TBT: 15 years ago, chat rooms dominated the world of online romance

Lauren Velez

In this day and age, it is not uncommon for students to look for relationships on dating apps, such as Tinder. Some claim the app and others like it mark the end of romance, but the “end of romance” might have actually happened over a decade ago.

In 1999, the idea of seeking a relationship over an online forum — rather than face-to-face — was just starting to become normalized. More and more, men were starting to court women with the click of a mouse. Garland Levit, the author of an editorial piece published in The Daily Texan 15 years ago, was determined to point out that this type of “dating” is, as he saw it, rather pathetic.

“The 90’s came around, and some computer genius, who probably couldn’t pick up a girl to save his life, decided to invent a communication medium which took away the pressures of real dialogue,” Levit said. “Suddenly, online chatrooms have become the unofficial singles bars of the 90’s.”

The article also explains the dirty truths of online dating, including how easy it is to impersonate someone else or cut off contact without awkwardness. The author offers a suggestion for how to best give that not-so-special girl the hint without explicitly ending things.

“[Tell] her your long lost brother from Greenland just called, and you will be right back (or ‘brb’ for all those online junkies out there),” Levit said.

With so many modern-day social media outlets, it would be virtually impossible to do a lot of things that were so easily facilitated in these ’90s chatrooms. Today, taking on the challenge of dating multiple people at once is not an easy task. In the chat room, courting multiple men or women at once was as easy as opening another chat window.

“In real life, a guy would be hard pressed to date Stephanie, Melissa and Kimberly all at once,” the article said. “Online, however, a guy can talk to Ecstasy524, Passion4U and RavenZ+3 all on one screen and never have any regrets or remorse.”

Although the author does concede that online dating is convenient, he points out the complications in a scenario of two online lovers meeting in person. Many people — whether they’ve met up with a Tinder match or have been “catfished” by a stranger on the Internet — can attest to the fact that people’s online profiles don’t always tell the whole truth. The author explains how easy it is for the “Christie-Brinkley  look-alike” to look very different than the pursuer had expected and suggests that men should return to the golden age of courting a woman in person.

“Even the lonely man should quickly realize that love runs much deeper than chatrooms alone,” Levit said. “Maybe he should become a ‘throwback’ man and ask out girls in person. At least then he would know what he was getting himself into.”