She said, He said

Victoria Bekiempis, Staff Writer

It’s true – the Internet is the preferred haunt of pornographers and pedophiles. So it would make sense that looking for love on social networking sites probably won’t rake in a bunch of “10s.”

I mean, logically there just has to be something wrong with people who depend on the anonymity of an AOL Instant Messenger handle to get a date.

But so what if Internet trolls have more than a slight tendency toward mental and hygienic deficiencies. These trolls still have human needs (read: horny and lonely), so they turn to the only medium available: the Internet. In the online world, everyone, however gelatinous, sweaty or crusty, is a well-adorned stud or a smoking babe, but never a prison inmate or patient at a VD clinic.

The infamous series of Dateline episodes titled “To Catch a Predator” was proof enough that behind every corner on the Internet lurks middle-aged men with screen names such as “Rockhard44,” “Flirtystudsoccer” and “MarkFoley” who were a little too, shall I say, excited to cross state lines to drink and party with 13-year-old kids.

And, of course, even if you do manage to talk to someone who’s not looking for perverse, dirty love, who knows if that blonde with the self-professed model build isn’t using Photoshop to airbrush out the Adam’s apple that would explain her height? Or if that the cute English major who likes Ravel doesn’t have some weird penchant for feet?

Even though there are problems associated with Internet dating, if you do decide to meet someone and that special someone doesn’t turn out to be a rapist or a serial killer, it’s possible that you’ve been conversing with that person for a while and might even share similar interests.

This is a plus you might not get with conventional forms of networking, which aren’t all that intimate, classy or romantic in the first place. You probably won’t lose something special by not foraging for a mate at a bar, where you’ll surely encounter a fair share of teetering, anonymous drunks before meeting Prince Charming.

And parties, another popular way of hooking up, don’t exactly guarantee a long-lasting connection. Face it: If you’re drunk, the conversation is going to be limited to the realm of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.

Frankly, every form of meeting people – be it the Internet, bars or parties – has its pros and cons, as well as its respective derelicts and deviants. And although the glare of a computer screen might not exactly be fairytale, the fact that you may manage to meet that special someone using it is.

Joshua Neiderer, Asst. News Editor

The infinite abyss that is cyberspace has opened new frontiers and made life easier for most. With the added conveniences of shopping, working, playing and social networking from home, there is little motivation to venture farther from the confines of one’s apartment than a wireless signal will reach. Add the ease of Internet dating to the fold, and one never has to venture into the “real” world.

Once the pizza and Coke have been ordered, the World of Warcraft has been conquered and 1,000 Myspace friends have been won over, all of Maslow’s needs should be fulfilled.

However, the value of face-to-face interaction with a 98-degree, living, breathing person cannot be denied.

Hypothetically, after meeting and entering a three-month cyber-relationship with Carmen, a 5-foot-6, 110-pound 21-year-old from California who enjoys video games, football and beer, life should be complete. But at the risk of sounding cliché, the odds that Carmen is female are relatively low.

There is a small but realistic chance that Carmen is, in fact, a 37-year-old, 250-pound bald janitor named Earl who works at a Des Moines high school and lives with his mother in a small, steamy room in the basement from where he types the sweet nothings read on screen here in Tampa.

So then, how is a shy guy to meet a nice girl to settle down with and play some cooperative Halo 3?

The classic answer is going to a bar and getting hammered. As inhibitions melt away with every sip and the surrounding crowd becomes more attractive, a guy with a working knowledge of COBOL (if you don’t know, look it up) is bound to score.

Granted, a pair of beer goggles may skew the outlook of the intrepid bar hopper, turning a 300-pound, one-eyed, 45-year-old married woman into a slightly overweight Alyssa Milano.

On the other hand, cyberspace lacks the vital component of body language. Watching for a slightly dilated eye or the open gestures of someone begging to be spoken to is a possibility not yet achieved in the realm of the Web. In the booze-soaked environs of a local watering hole, even the most timid traveler on love’s highway is bound to flag down a passerby every once in a while.

However, assuming the socially challenged friend is looking for female companionship, the gender question arises again. As gender roles are rightly headed the way of the buffalo, how is a slightly sloshed chap to know whether he is talking to a female?

Jaw lines and beards can be shaved, hormones can be taken and breasts can be implanted, but hands remain manly and Adam’s apples still bounce.

Both solutions are flawed, and the best solution is probably meeting a nice girl in biology class – but given the choice, is there really a dilemma?