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2006 03 30

Toronto Hydro Telecom recently announced their plans to create a continuous Wi-Fi zone of internet service in downtown Toronto.

This intensification of web access follows increased Internet use in Toronto as tracked by Statistics Canada. In 1999, 48.5% of households were accessing the Internet from home, work or school. In 2003, the number had risen to 73% of households.

As this venerable blog can attest, the expansion of Internet usage has allowed us to create communities that would be much more difficult to grow and maintain in the physical world.

A case in point, is the growth of the online dating industry that is largely represented in Toronto by Lavalife. Started in 1997, it currently has close to seven million members in Canada, US and Australia. About 700,000 members are active customers, which means they are meeting new people on a regular basis and using the service with some frequency.

In the study, Love Online: A Report on Digital Dating in Canada, Dr. Robert Brym and Dr. Rhonda Lenton estimate that the potential for online dating in Canada is over 3 million unmarried people. They state that online dating is a growth industry for four main reasons: there are more single people in the general population, these people work more, are more mobile and are less likely to meet someone on the job. In 1999, a Toronto Sun/COMPAS poll found that 52% of Toronto singles were not dating, while 75% said it was difficult to find a good dating partner.

Given all the stats related to online dating, one can speculate about the impact increased Wi-Fi access will have on desperately seeking singles spending every spare nanosecond surfing for a date. I see an image of men and women congregating in downtown bars, eyes locked on their laptop screens and not on the hottie sitting next to them.

The growth of the Internet has certainly brought into question what it means to feel connected to another human being. Does hooking up wirelessly mean ‘hooking-up’ without strings? And do groups of people connecting for booty calls really make us more connected? Perhaps. If it creates a demographic blip then the Internet boom may have more than one meaning. Latter generations could then blame all those damn Internet Boomers.
[email this story] Posted by moimoi design on 03/30 at 04:20 AM

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