Ryan LaFollette/Photo Editor Groups dedicated to finding a date have made the Facebook a new market to shop for love, or just a hook up.

For Generation Y, the courting ritual has become a process of text messages, away messages, instant messages, e-mails and “the poke”— the Facebook poke, that is.

If these virtual steps are completed successfully, a male suitor might further pursue the object of his affection with a call, but only if he is looking to begin a relationship. The phone call isn’t quite necessary for a “hook-up.”

“A hook-up can be accomplished solely through cyber-flirting and a drunken encounter at Sports Bar,” said Robyn Jaffe, a sophomore human development major.

The “hook-up” scene of the 21st century is part of a new, technologically advanced form of courtship that requires very little, if any, actual in-person interaction.

Though this might give hope to the anxiety-ridden teens hiding behind their computer screens, avoiding all contact with the opposite sex on their way to Lecture Hall, some students are asking themselves, “what does this say about our generation?”

“Talking online and the quick hook-up is just easier,” said sophomore Eliot Sherman, a chemistry major. “It doesn’t involve heartbreak and can satisfy the growing needs of a teenager.”

Sherman, like many other students, feels today’s teens are striving more for numerous sexual encounters that require minimal effort, rather than pursuing an emotional connection.

So, do teens of the 21st century place too much value on immediate gratification and not enough on meaningful relationships and finding love?

“There are certainly socio-cultural dimensions involved,” said Deborah Elliston, assistant professor of anthropology. “Today’s teens are very much focused on future success, and may see romantic involvement and monogamous relationships as a deterrent from a successful career path.”

Elliston added that the growing number of abstinence campaigns have created the idea that as long as teens are preserving their virginity, other sexual activities, such as oral sex, are considered casual and playful. This has helped to fuel the informal, noncommittal “hook-up” scene, leading to an even less formal courting process.

The virtual courting process may be quicker, easier and less awkward for some, but there are still many rules and regulations for online flirting, specifically on the Facebook. Currently, there are four major ways one can flirt through the Facebook: sending a friend request, writing on a crush’s wall, sending a message and the infamous “poke.”

“It’s so funny to me … some guy will Facebook me and then when I see him on campus, all of a sudden he is too embarrassed to say ‘hi’ to me,” said sophomore Erica Goldstein, a management major. “If a guy doesn’t have the confidence to talk to me in person, then he really needs to think twice before sending a friend request.”

Writing on your crush’s Facebook wall or sending a Facebook message can be a charming subtle flirtation, but the “poke” often sends a different message.

“Facebook poking can be cute, it definitely depends on the relationship,” said Goldstein. “But if you don’t know the guy or girl that well, the poke is a bit weird and agressive.”

Facebook profiles, much like the outdated method of placing a personal ad, are a way for students to communicate what they’re looking for in a relationship. Before pursuing Facebook flirtation, teens often check the “looking for” category on the profile to find the relationship status of their crush. Two options chosen quite often which tend to raise eyebrows are “random play,” and “whatever I can get.”

“When most guys see ‘random play’ on a girl’s Facebook profile, it is certainly a good thing,” said sophomore Michael Pond. “Most guys are just looking to get laid and get out of there.”

“Whatever I can get” is a more ambiguous category. Some students believe this option includes all of the choices under the “looking for” category, while others view it in a negative way.

“It just sounds desperate,” said Jaffe. “There’s nothing attractive about that.”

Unfortunately, many students say teens of the 21st century seem to be locked into this technological world where judgments of character are based on Facebook and AIM profiles, rather than meaningful face-to-face conversations and interactions. So is there any light at the end of this superficial tunnel? Some students say “yes.”

“Technology will eventually take the place of almost everything,” said Jaffe. “But Facebook and the Internet will never take the place of dinner and a movie with a guy… it’s just not the same.”