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​Our opinion: Surfing the lonesome crowded internet

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | February 13th, 2019

Scherenschnitte - by Sabrina Hornung

It will be Valentine’s Day by the time this issue hits the stands, but who knows you might even be picking it up after you’ve finished eating the last of the chocolates you bought for yourself for Valentine’s Day.

We’re not judging. In fact, you’re not alone. That’s exactly what I was planning to do after the issue came out, or I might even buy myself a drink and take myself home.

On February 5, Tess Williams over at The Forum wrote a piece called, “It's not you, it's North Dakota: State ranks third worst for singles.” That online analysis came from Wallethub, and made its assessments from three categories: “Dating opportunities,” meaning the folks at Wallethub took a look at the gender balance of the area and the number of single adults and dating opportunities, as well as accessibility to dating opportunities and online dating participation.

The second factor was “dating economics,” meaning they took a look at costs of coffee, cocktails, movies, grooming costs and median incomes as well as the cost of housing. “Romance and fun” included accessibility to parks, entertainment destinations, fitness centers, music festivals, and nightlife options, crime rates and online dating safety, etcetera.

This makes me a bit nostalgic but mostly skeptical. Remember back in the '90s, when we were warned to avoid strangers on the internet? Maybe that’s why I get weirded out by the idea of online dating. Maybe because it also reminds me of my time blogging and trying to sell vintage clothing online a few years back. But instead of typing in keywords to sell that 60s-era brocade wiggle dress, you’re typing in keywords to sell your best self to strangers on the internet.

Uffda...that sounded a lot harsher than it was supposed to but it seemed like a decent analogy. I have trust issues, especially when it involves the internet. I can’t help it. I’ve seen “Maximum Overdrive.” Remember the Stephen King movie where the machines took over and went on a comet-induced rampage? If not, don’t worry, Stephen King doesn’t remember directing it either. Granted, that film came out in 1986. I imagine the advent of WiFi would only have exacerbated the situation.

North Dakota may have ranked 48 out of 50 with regard to the 50 worst places for singles in the U.S., but chins up buttercups, Arkansas came up at 49 and West Virginia came out at 50. That’s about as satisfying as being the second or rather third to the last kid to finish the mile run in gym class. Using the last bit of asthmatic strength to wheeze our way to the finish line before the other guy. I may or may not be speaking from experience on that one, but at least we’re not West Virginia.

In case you’re wondering, the top three states for singles were Florida, California, and Texas. North Dakota had the lowest gender balance among singles, thanks to the oil boom there’s an overabundance of men. We’d call that area “no man’s land, but Tom Bixby pointed out that “All man’s land” was more appropriate.

According to Wallethub, we have the fewest restaurants per capita, thanks to too many country mice leaving the northern lights for city lights, which is unfortunate. These rural areas need them. Here’s to hoping those city lights lose that lustre and those country mice realize the opportunities available in those small towns.

Full disclosure: I’ve never actually tried dating online, though I can see the appeal of simply swiping left or right on someone’s photo. At least it eliminates the first step of awkwardly approaching someone and the possibility of being rejected face to face, but then again people have a tendency to be far more cruel when they’re hiding behind an avatar.

There you are, talking to an idealized representation of someone and so very far from who they are. Houston, we have a problem -- Fargo and Bismarck and all other places too!

Having said that, you’d almost think that North Dakotans would be a lot better at dating online, there’s a lot less confrontation that way. Even if you don’t end up with a Valentine this year, you'll get through it. Tomorrow is another day, and on top of that, Valentine’s day candy will more than likely be on sale by then. Don’t get down on yourself, just remember that every cloud has a silver lining and there’s plenty more days for dates during the year.

But wait. Considering that this study is monitoring online dating participation, I wonder how accurate it really is for North Dakota. Have you had an online dating experience?

I’d like to hear about it. Email me! 

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