Virtual friendship, anyone?

Maha Amin April 23, 2010

KARACHI: They can live without it, but while they’re living with it, Pakistanis want to use the internet to find love.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) conducted a global poll and found that internet users in Pakistan and India strongly believe that the internet is a good place to find a romantic partner. The survey proves why websites such as, and have become so popular.

For those who do not want to go through this channel, Facebook has emerged as one of the biggest platforms to find friends. The poll surveyed users from all over the world who were asked a number of questions including if they believed that access to internet was a fundamental right for everyone, what they believed the internet should be used for, and what they used the internet for personally. The answers varied from users in different countries.

A surprising outcome that was revealed was that “around one in three internet users across the countries polled regard the web as a good place to find a boyfriend or girlfriend.” In Pakistan these stats are even more astonishing as 60 per cent of Pakistanis “agree that the internet is a good place to find a romantic partner.” 59 per cent of surveyed Indian users believed the same. But the quest for love often oversteps boundaries, as inboxes are flooded with messages from strangers. These messages are along the lines of: “Hello how r u? I am 29 from Lahore Pakistan doing job in a bank ... I see ur profile in this website ... you are really very nice girl.”

Other messages use a more creative format: “Today again I could not control myself, My heart won over my mind and I am writing you again. I accept you as a person you are... And that I don’t wish to change you into someone else My heart says that you like me, My eyes says that you feel something for me, My mind says that you think of me, But till now you are quiet…” Despite Facebook’s stringent privacy settings, there are always people who find a way around it and pop up on one’s ‘wall’ or inbox with messages like “if u have little bit time from your busy life could we spend whole life together. Will u marry me?”

The fact that 60 per cent of Pakistan’s internet users believe the internet is meant for such activities is significant. It is also representative of the very-real problem in Pakistan that there are few social avenues to meet members of the opposite sex unless it is through friends or at work and family events. One wonders if the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, ever imagined that his website would be used by people in Pakistan - a country which is famous for everything but ‘love’ - to start up ‘friendships’ and find ‘life partners’.