It makes it easier for someone who is looking for something very specific in a partner to find what they are looking for.
They are important today — roughly one of every four straight couples now meet on the Internet.
But the fear that online dating is changing us, collectively, that it's creating unhealthy habits and preferences that aren't in our best interests, is being driven more by paranoia than it is by actual facts.
"There are a lot of theories out there about how online dating is bad for us," Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford who has been conducting a long-running study of online dating, told me the other day.
There are online sites that cater to hookups, sure, but there are also online sites that cater to people looking for long-term relationships.
What’s more, many people who meet in the online sites that cater to hookups end up in long-term relationships.