Early 1900s: The Lonely Rural Farmers, Ranchers and Shepherds Around the turn of the last century, personal ads enjoyed a renaissance of popularity, especially in the Western US with low populations and the harsh realities of rural life without a partner.
Since the earliest days of mass media and technology, people have been finding ways to broadcast their desires and find connections that might have otherwise eluded them.
I mean, one could argue that even Voyager 1's Golden Record is kind of a massive, interstellar personal ad (complete with the recorded sound of a kiss! It's as if humanity decided to document all our best features and send them into space with this message: So dating apps are really the latest manifestation of human beings doing what we've always done -- create new tools to communicate and then turn around and use those tools to find love, sex and companionship.
During this time, gathering sites for gay men known as Molly Houses were subject to regular raids by law enforcement. 1727: Women Get Smacked Down for Expressing Personal Desire In 1727, Englishwoman Helen Morrison became the first woman to place an ad in a Lonely Hearts column.
She convinced the editor of the Manchester Weekly Journal to place a small ad stating she was "seeking someone nice to spend her life with." (It's radical, I know.....) A man responded to Helen, but it was not the man she was hoping for.
But these hyperbolic pronouncements miss a deeper fact: At its core, "online dating" isn't something we just started doing 5, 10 or even 20 years ago.
Before the Internet, there were personal ads, and before that, lonely shepherds carved detailed works of art into tree bark to communicate their longing for human contact.
Scam artists caused a scandal that many newspapers ran with, and personals disappeared practically overnight as public attitudes became more cautious.
Phishing, fake profiles, and ads for escorts continue this tradition today.
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