The Toronto Sun
March 11, 1997

Singles surfing for love and lust

by Ian Harvey

The Internet is the world's largest singles bar, a place where the lustful and the lonely alike troll for that someone special.

For a 21-year-old Orillia man and a 25-year-old Chicago transsexual it was also the conduit for the "deeply troubled" pair that ended in a strange suicide pact at a downtown hotel.

The pair had apparently "met" online, presumably on a "chatsite", one of thousands of places in cyberspace where people worldwide "talk" by typing in their comments.

Last January, Marlene Stumf was stabbed to death by her husband in Philadephia after a local sportscaster sent her a dozen red roses in response to her e-mail to his website.

In October, Sharon Lopatka died in North Carolina after a bout of kinky sex with a man she had met online.

In his e-mail, he described his desire to sexually torture and kill her.

It's the Net's ability to create a niche for almost any speciality, mood, interest, or fetish coupled with the anonymity that attracts participants.

However, despite the millions of cyberencounters that end harmlessly, or the relationships that blossom, with some leading to marriage, it's the negative that get attention, said Jim Carroll, co-author of the Canadian Internet Handbook who is working on a solo effort, Surviving the Information Age.

"I think perhaps that people are afraid of the technology -- and when they see something like this -- it reaffirms that they were right not to get involved with it", he said.

Copyright © 1997 by The Toronto Sun. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.