1920s: Lonely WWI Soldiers Seek Pen Pals Personal ads went mainstream again in the early 20th century, when social pressures to get married by 21 (and thus, expectations for relationships) were much lower, thankfully than their earlier incarnations.
But as magazines and periodicals such as The Wedding Bell in the US and The Correspondent, Matrimonial Herald and Marriage Gazette in the UK hit the newsstands with immense popularity, matchmaking and personals took off as well, creating the first wave of true mainstream normalization for the personal ad.
Late 1800s: The Scam Emerges You know, someone's always got to ruin the party.
Phishing, fake profiles, and ads for escorts continue this tradition today.
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.
Even before the Web itself, bulletin boards and newsgroups hosted a variety of ways people could use technology to meet others with similar interests, including dating.
Services such as America Online, Prodigy and eventually Craigslist offered chat rooms, forums and online classifieds of use to singles.
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.
1695: The First Personal Ads According to history professor H. Cocks (seriously --The Best Name Ever for an academic) personal ads began as a way to help British bachelors find eligible wives.
Hardly a week goes by without another new think piece about online dating either revolutionizing society or completely ruining our ability to have real relationships.
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.
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