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Many of the postings were simply calls for friends or pen pals, becoming especially popular among single servicemen, called "lonely soldiers," during World War I."At that time advertising for pals or for lonely soldiers was fashionable and contemporary — something done by those who were, as they put it in their ads, 'bohemian and unconventional,'" Cocks said.Since the earliest days of mass media and technology, people have been finding ways to broadcast their desires and find connections that might have otherwise eluded them.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.
"You probably wouldn't talk about it if you were very respectable," he said."Short self-descriptions aren't only the preserve of Internet daters, they are also the essence of things like Facebook and other social networking sites," said Cocks.The difference between the personal ads of the previous centuries and today's is the age of those using Internet dating sites, according to statistics.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.One of the earliest personals ever placed was by a 30-year-old man, with "a very good estate', announcing he was in search of 'some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3,000 or thereabouts." (£3,000 is equivalent to roughly £300,000 today.The personals sections of those 18th century newspapers were also useful for gay men and women to meet lovers, back when homosexuality was still illegal (it remained so in the UK until 1967).Personal ads went mainstream in the early 20th century, with expectations at a much lower level than their earlier incarnations.Personal ads have a history going back at least 300 years, according to a new book on the subject entitled "Classified: The Secret History of the Personal Column" (Random House Books, 2009).Internet dating is just the modern version of the first "matrimonial" agencies of the 1700s, which helped lonely bachelors search for wives through printed ads, said author H. Cocks, a history lecturer at the University of Nottingham, UK.Almost everyone these days can name a couple they know that met on the Internet, though it wasn't so long ago that skimming the online personals for love was considered strange, even a bit desperate.Taboo or not, the practice certainly isn't new.