On Saturday, The Early Show ran a quick segment on online dating, in which they claim to reveal certain "insider secrets" about digital courtships.

"The key is the picture... as terrible as it sounds," said CBS anchor Chris Wragge. Match.com "relationship expert" Whitney Casey agreed. She helped CNET Senior Editor Natalie Del Conte set up her very own profile, which included a tutorial on choosing the right picture. One, where Del Conte is wearing a life jacket was vetoed: "'active girl' is great, but not for your main picture," said Casey. Another was turned down: "depressed latte girl, not a good one." (Black and white is also bad, as are old pictures, and "crop-outs, crop-out is a cop-out.") After wading through several minutes of Casey's brilliant advice, it came down to this: chose an attractive picture and don't lie.

Other important "insider" tips included: write your profile to reflect the correspondence you want to have, keep in mind that "no answer is an answer," and only mention things that you feel strongly about. This advice wasn't bad per se, it just seemed a little bit obvious. Does anyone really need an "expert" to tell them how to act "natural"?

Despite Casey's insistence that online dating is now a widely-accepted manner in which to meet a mate, this hilarious section from the Onion News Network shows the other side of the virtual coin. In a clip titled "Online Dating Helping Pathetic Women Get Their Hopes Crushed More Efficiently," Onion "reporter" Jeff Tate discusses the benefits of internet matchmaking: "innovative features like instant messaging and video chat make destroying one's self esteem as easy as clicking a mouse," and "the endless string of first dates is unlikely to result in a lasting relationship, but it can occupy a woman's attention enough to distract her from killing herself." It may be just a joke, but like most of the Onion's stories, there is a certain ring of truth in the parody. Many people still view sites like Match.com as a place for sex-starved creeps and desperate old maids. As Sadie discussed earlier this summer, online dating might have lost some of its stigma, but for those who truly hate dating and the sweaty palms, racked nerves, and potential for disaster that necessarily comes with it, online dating may be just as fraught as the "real" thing.


Online Dating Helping Pathetic Women Get Their Hopes Crushed More Efficiently

Polishing Your Online Dating Profile [CBS News]
Online Dating Helping Pathetic Women Get Their Hopes Crushed More Efficiently [The Onion]

Related: Has Online Dating Really Lost Its Stigma?, Online Dating Expert Reveals Not-So-Secret "Secrets"