All they need is a computer and they can choose partners from among thousands, unlike the small number available in the village!
And they do that every day because of easy access to the computers and the Internet.
Starting an online relationship is as real as it gets, especially with the now abundant availability of social networking and internet services.
Batswana are increasingly looking into internet dating for long term relationships, overnight pleasures, and sometimes to pass time with some loner seeking solidarity by looming into a camcorder or simply navigating through pages and pictures on the internet.
“Online dating or Internet dating is a HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_system” \o “Dating system” dating system which allows individuals, couples and groups to make contact and communicate with each other over the Internet,” says Wikipedia, “usually with the objective of developing a personal romantic or sexual relationship.”
Many dating sites claim to be free; however anyone who knows about love understands that it never is free!
While these sites allow members to join free, they, however, attach a subscription fee whenever a member wants to communicate with another and mostly use online payments through credit cards.
But some really do offer free communication and generate revenue mainly from advertising.
While we may jump in to question the realness and meaning of online relationships, some people have actually found their “true love” and life partners through internet dating sites.
But why would they rather find solace and actually fall in lust and love with a person they don’t know and who is probably a world away while most of us shun and steer clear of long distance relationships?
Botswana’s very own internet dating service, DatingBotswana.com, prides itself to be “a secure, hassle-free environment where people can meet to form new online relationships”, it continues to say “Whether you’re looking for new friends, a quick soiree in the world of online dating, or the love of your life, you are sure to find some one special amongst our thousands of personal ads.”
DatingBotswana hosts thousands of Batswana, aged between 18 and 45, all looking for love and some even marriage! There are members from other parts of the world such as North America, Europe, The United States and the rest of Africa too.
The site is powered by The Dating Lab, who, according to its site, provides successful and profitable dating services to the world’s leading media brands and has for the past 17 years been specialising in building and managing high-quality branded dating services and have been providing highly successful print and online HYPERLINK “http://www.thedatinglab.com/services.php” \o “Services” dating solutions to a variety of HYPERLINK “http://www.thedatinglab.com/clients.php” \o “Clients” media client owners.
The description of the members go anything from ‘lonely and needing someone to love’, ‘been heartbroken and seeking love’, ‘looking for true love’, ‘needing to love and be loved back’, ‘searching for my soul mate’, if you want true love contact me’ to ‘ready to settle down’.
Profiling people who seek love on the internet as desperate and hopeless could just prove to be rather ignorant, according to some individuals who have themselves established their relationships over the internet!
In fact, a subscriber in the DatingBotswana website posted her success story, “THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!!!!! I have been a member for a while, made some really wonderful friends but, now, thanks to YOU I have met the man with whom I wish to spend the rest of my life! Thank you for the wonderful service you provide to so many single, lonely people! May your website continue to provide others with the opportunity to meet new friends and soul mates!” wrote Ona on the 11th August 2010.
Morongwa, another user stated, “I will recommend internet dating to anyone who’s looking for their Mr. or Miss. Right in the future- it just makes so much sense!?You can really get to know someone quite well via writing, and not waste your time with uncomfortable first dates! I am so happy to have found him, and if it wasn’t for you guys we would probably never have met, so thank you SO MUCH!”
Gorata Mpusetsang, a frequent visitor to the internet dating sites, said that people who look for love online should not be profiled as desperate because they are just like anyone looking for a relationship offline.
“There is less tension while communicating on the Internet,” he said. “You tend to open up a little more and, what more, you get to know each other well before you meet.”
Mpusetsang said online relationships are just different and less contact based and therefore there is nothing wrong with them. He prefers them because they allow him space too as he would not like to be too attached.
Some people, however, still have their reservations.
Otshidile Onkabetse, a university student, does not believe in online dating. She won’t go on line for that nor will she recommend it for anyone.
She asserts that to start an online relationship she should at least have known the person before. In fact, she would rather prefer to be in a long distance relationship because then she would at least get to see the person once than rely on ‘Skype’.
Onkabetse believes that online dating people lie and pretend to be what they are not.
She also mourns the absence of a personal touch in these relationships that might blossom for a long time before the two meet only to find out they don’t like each other after all.
She credits the popularity of online dating in Botswana on “technology which is the in thing, so people are always online and starting relationships”.
The advent of Facebook, Skype, Tagged, Twitter and other social networking sites might just offer shortcuts to lovebirds in Botswana, as most people spend their time online.
Thankfully, however, many more people still prefer to be traditional with their relationships – with direct communication and interaction with even the assistance of friends or relatives.