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Such companies offer a wide variety of unmoderated matchmaking services, most of which are profile-based.Online dating services allow users to become "members" by creating a profile and uploading personal information including (but not limited to) age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance.Professor Barry Wellman of the University of Toronto in Canada has invented a term to describe the way many North Americans interact these days.The term is “networked individualism.” This concept is not easy to understand because the words seem to have opposite meanings. Before the invention of the Internet and e-mail, our social networks involved live interactions with relatives, neighbors, and colleagues at work.

So we networked individuals are pretty tricky: We're keeping more to ourselves, while at the same time reaching out to more people, all with just the click of a computer mouse!The report due out Monday from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project suggests that attitudes toward online dating "have progressed in a clearly positive direction." In fact, 59 percent of Internet users agree that online dating is a good way to meet people. As Americans shop, socialize and entertain themselves online, a growing number are turning to the Internet to find dates.Some 11 percent of people who started a long-term relationship in the past decade say they met their partner online.Online dating is shedding its stigma as a refuge for the desperate, but people who use sites such as and e Harmony are still in the minority.Thirty-eight percent of Americans who are "single and looking" say they've used an online dating site or mobile dating app, according to a new study.

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