"And mostly they're pretty unfounded." Rosenfeld, who has been keeping tabs on the dating lives of more than 3,000 people, has gleaned many insights about the growing role of apps like Tinder.

They are important today — roughly one of every four straight couples now meet on the Internet.

This environment, mind you, is just like the one we see in the offline world.

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Instead of interacting with the people around her, she chose to search for a companion elsewhere online.

I wondered to myself, is this what online dating has done to us?

In fact, by several measures, online dating has proved even more useful — both to individuals and society — than the traditional avenues it has replaced.

I spoke with Rosenfeld to hear more about his research, to learn about the ways in which the rise of online dating is defining modern love, and to talk about the biggest misconceptions people have about online dating.

People used to marry in their early 20s, which meant that most dating that was done, or most courting that was done, was done with the intention of settling down right away.

And that’s not the life that young people lead anymore.We see this in consumer goods — if there are too many flavors of jam at the store, for instance, you might feel that it’s just too complicated to consider the jam aisle, you might end up skipping it all together, you might decide it's not worth settling down with one jam. I don’t think that that theory, even if it’s true for something like jam, applies to dating.I actually don’t see in my data any negative repercussions for people who meet partners online.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.A couple of months ago, I was sitting at a bar minding my own business when the woman next to me did something strange.