a few years back, I explored a bit into the online dating world for a couple months of chat (never got into the forum thing though). I went on alot of 'first and only' dates. I'll give some pros and cons related to that experience...I say these half in jest and exaggurate for effect - but they aren't too far off:
pro: better than meeting someone drunk at a bar...at least you know they are sober long enough to type a message.
con: They may ONLY have been sober long enough to type the message.
pro: some had a better in-person personality than on-line.
con: many had a better on-line personality.
pro: seeing an on-line picture prior to meeting.
con: finding out in-person that the picture was either 15 years ago, or of their younger sister.
pro: cool/impressive/interesting sounding descriptions of themselves with keywords: "athletic", "easy-going", "social", "ambitious", etc...
con: finding out their interpretation of those keywords:
- "So by 'athletic' you meant that you like watching 'bowling for dollars' and drag racing?"
- 'easy-going' could mean she already has a pillow next to hers ready for you to spend the night after the first date.
- 'social' = bar hopping 4+ nights a week.
- 'ambitious' ie: 'looking for a sugar-daddy'.
pro: she's looking for an honest man ready for a serious relationship.
con: she talks about how she would arrange her 'perfect wedding' even before the appetizers are serverd during the first-meet dinner.
pro: she can hold her drinks down well.
con: can drink you under the table.
The biggest concern with online dating is that it's too easy to lie and misrepresent. and after a $100+ dinner, you find out the details they happen to leave out (true situations):
She was married (acompanied by 'unhappily separated' - whatever that means - I translated that to mean: 'excess baggage').
Another dressed goth and had an 'online strip web-cam' business.
'average body build' but actually she was about 350lbs and worked up a sweat visiting the bathroom.
another mentioned in person that she smoked coke occationally for 'recreation'. nobody smokes crack as a passtime - either you are addicted or you are not.
don't get me wrong, I'm half-kidding around - there were good experiences too, but the bad ones are funnier.
online dating, I found, for my age group at the time anyway, was a 50/50 gamble with a lean towards the dishonest folk showing up. not really promising odds comparred to the traditional way of 'word of mouth' or 'line of sight' or even happenstance meetings.
online dating is probably changing though, I perceive that people are becoming more and more honest about themselves online. as the technology matures - so does it's use.