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The more likely explanation, though, is that the anonymity of the medium, the prevalence of blogs, online photo galleries and personal Web sites, and the comfort most of us feel in corresponding entirely through e-mail have combined to make online dating a perfectly acceptable means of meeting new people. When you think for a minute about how inefficient and circuitous the traditional delivery system for meeting potential lovers is, it’s not hard to see how we landed here.

When your options are limited to getting set up by your friends, going out to parties or going to smoky bars in the hopes of getting drunk enough to knock over someone with a pulse, it’s clear why shopping for a mate online has been embraced by mainstream America.

Furthermore, imagine if it were considered rude to bring up the Cuisinart straight off the bat — instead, you were expected to ask people about themselves, maybe buy them a drink, and feign interest in their rambling, self-involved banter, until finally, at the end of the night, loosened up by a few drinks, you could say what had been on your mind for hours: “Um.I hope this doesn’t sound too forward, but do you … ” And despite all that effort, imagine that the person’s face drops, and he or she replies politely, but in a clipped, uncomfortable tone, “No, I’m not really into that kind of thing,” and then exits the party without even asking for your number in case he or she ever does get the urge to process.Now that love has finally been commodified and booty has an efficient distribution system, it makes sense that the branding strategies of those peddling their goods and services have become increasingly finessed.Of course, it was only a matter of time before we gave up on classified ads and moved on to a more dynamic format.After all, how long could the same classy DWM, 50s, keep trumpeting his love for red wine and red roses and cuddling to any SWF who’s both idle enough and disturbed enough to pore over that minuscule print?

As Scott Bedbury, the marketing strategist who helped to launch campaigns for Nike and Starbucks, writes in his book, “A New Brand World”: “The most innovative product line will grow stale in the minds of potential consumers if the marketing has become static, undifferentiated, or — even worse — irritating for lack of change.” A change has certainly come upon us.

Browse the personals on or and you’ll see for yourself: Gone are the candlelit dinners and the long walks on the beach.

Cooking and travel and nights by the fire sound as old and lame as that “Like a Rock” theme song that Chevy can’t seem to leave behind.

Just ask executives of Match.com, who last month reported a 195 percent increase in paid subscribers over the same quarter last year.

Or look at Yahoo, where online personals have increased the company’s revenues despite a decline in income from advertising. When I asked a friend, who met her last boyfriend online, how many of her single friends had used or are currently using online dating services, she replied, “Pretty much all of them.” Look no further than the “Personals of the Day” you see pop up on this site, as well as the Onion and countless other sites, and you’ll realize two things: One, online personals have become a major source of revenue for content sites, and two, there are some damn fine-looking young folks floating around out there.

Unless Spring Street Networks, the source of those ads, has been inventing fictional singles with a crack team of models, stylists, marketers and professional photographers, there appear to be a great many attractive people online these days, shamelessly hamming it up in the hopes of meeting that special anyone.