Ask your grandparents or great grandparents how they met each other, there's a good chance family was involved. In the early 20th century, couples met most often through family members, which provided a vetting process before the dawn of modern-day dating. Once people started going on a-courtin' outside the home, friends became more involved as matchmakers, and the family's role diminished. But today, friends are getting elbowed out from introducing romantic hopefuls by the ultimate meta matchmaker: the Internet.
A 2010 study called "Meeting Online: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary" charts the Web's exponential growth as a dating tool. According to these stats, online dating sites and other social networks are becoming the 21st century singles' bars. "For heterosexual couples who met in 2009, the Internet was the third most likely (emphasis added) way of meeting (at around 22 percent), after the intermediation of friends, and roughly tied with the bars, restaurants and other public places." Homosexuals take advantage of virtual matchmaking even more, with between a quarter and a third of gay couples meeting online.
Although Internet dating has become more socially acceptable in recent years, it's always worth noting that these folks cruising around OKCupid and elsewhere aren't a bunch of crazies. They like to date and often fall into the middle age bracket, as this study abstract explains: "We found that online dating was unrelated to income and educational level. Respondents between 30 and 50 years old were the most active online daters. In support of the rich-get-richer hypothesis, people low in dating anxiety were more active online daters than people high in dating anxiety."
So when you ask your grandkids how they met their honey pie, the answer will probably be as predictable as your grandparents'. They'll say "online, of course."