It’s been said text messages and social media are responsible for the death of the love letter. Now social media networks like Facebook and pages like UC Santa Cruz Confessions and UCSC Casual Encounters have altered the dynamics of college dating forever.
According to a study done by Michael Rosenfeld, a sociology professor at Stanford University, approximately 21 percent of heterosexual couples and 61 percent of same-sex couples meet each other online. Along with dating sites such as Match.com or eHarmony, Facebook has contributed greatly to this percentage. In the ‘50s or ‘60s, a student would have to leap the shyness hurdle to ask another to grab some soda pop. Now, a date is a friend request or a status “like” away.
UC Santa Cruz Confessions has become a popular page on Facebook and a trending topic on campus. Linked to an anonymous survey page, this site allows Facebook users to confess anything without revealing their identity. Justin Lardinois, second-year and administrator of UC Santa Cruz Confessions, receives these anonymous confessions and posts them to the page.
After posting the page’s link on the UCSC Facebook, Lardinois said it gained popularity very quickly and grew to receive around 200 confessions a day. Although most confessions include an embarrassing story, Lardinois said many of them are submitted by students who are looking to express their feelings for another student anonymously.
“Anonymity gives you the ability to speak without repercussion,” Lardinois said. “People can say whatever they want. They can say ‘I have a crush on this person and I’m too shy to talk to them.’”
On the confessions page, the compliments, the “I like you’s” and the Valentine’s Day proposals are hidden beneath stories about raccoon related hijinks and the occasional tales of roommate tension.
Lucy, a frequent confessor who asked to keep her anonymity, said the mystery adds to the allure of dating online.
“I’ve posted anonymously and have contacted guys who like my posts,” Lucy said. “[The anonymity] also gives me a sense of relief, because I don’t have to worry so much about being rejected.”
Possibly inspired by the high amount of confessors that sought a “hook-up” partner on the UC Santa Cruz Confessions page, a UCSC Casual Encounters Facebook page was created. For students who want to skip the dates and get on a hook-up fast track, the Facebook page serves as a perfect vehicle. Although the page isn’t as apparently popular as the confessions page, students still submit descriptions of themselves followed by invitations to meet.
Confessing your love or admiration for another while anonymous may seem to some like a destinationless road, but it has led to successful relationships between slugs. Justin Lardinois said he has seen a couple of relationships come out of the anonymous posts. One couple has even used Lardinois as a proxy to connect with each other and exchange phone numbers.
Facebook, the UC Santa Cruz Confessions page and other social networking websites have the potential to continue making dating easier for college students. Many students split their time between jobs, schoolwork and friends, which may make it difficult to meet a potential interest. Michael Rosenfeld, Stanford sociology professor, thinks meeting online is more typical for middle-aged adults, but it is also useful for people who are at a dating disadvantage.
“My theory is that people who are in thin dating markets [and] people who have a hard time finding partners are the people for whom the Internet is a useful dating marketplace,” said Rosenfeld in an email. “For people who would otherwise have difficulty finding a mate, the Internet is a positive revolution.”