The weather is getting colder, seasonal depression is slowly setting in and young love that blossomed in September is beginning to frost over. Yup, the loneliest time of the year is upon us once again.

But fret not, single ladies and gents.

Put your Dashboard Confessional Pandora station on pause because flying solo no longer has the same implications of despair and hopelessness that it used to. So lose those winter blues and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of cyberspace and technology this holiday season.

A couple months back, a single friend of mine told me she joined a free online dating site. My first thought was, “Girlfriend has finally fallen off the deep end.”

After nearly four years of being a single college student, I honestly thought I’d be the first to go down.

“Aren’t dating sites usually for the socially awkward and ungracefully aging crowd?” I asked her.

She told me that my presumptions were pretty off-base; she promised not all members are 40-something World of Warcraft virgins who still live at home with their mothers. She suggested I join the site to see for myself.

“I’m desperate, but not that desperate,” I assured her.

A few weeks went by. A taunting number of “in a relationship” Facebook items continued to infest my News Feed. After another disappointing string of hookups and let-downs, I was finally willing to admit I had a single-life crisis on my hands.

Curious enough to put aside my overbearing pride, yet reluctant enough to use a pseudonym to disguise my identity, I decided it was time to see what online dating was all about.

Expecting to enter a no man’s land inhabited by fetish enthusiasts and grenades, I soon realized how silly and misguided my predispositions were. Our generation is the generation of social networking, so it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise that so many young adults have hopped on the online dating bandwagon in recent years.

That which was awkward is now easy.

Have a stage-five clinger on your hands? Cyberspace eliminates the awkward exchanges you’re forced to endure when turning someone down face-to-face. No need to worry about coming up with a thoughtful, “It’s not you, it’s me” excuse to let ‘em down easy. The silent treatment is an admissible way of getting your message across in the world of online dating, no questions asked.

Remember kids, mother doesn’t always know best.

Forget what you’ve been told about “never judging a book by its cover.” Online dating actually encourages that universal no-no, so judge, judge away! You can quickly weed out the less-than-average Joes based on their profiles, which contain a photo along with a summary of their personality traits, interests, hobbies, values and beliefs. Your level of compatibility is also provided upon first click, so guessing games are kept to a bare minimum.

Online dating is the new retail therapy.

Perhaps I took a particular liking to online dating because it reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes (and personal vices), online shopping. But unlike e-commerce, plenty of dating sites are now free of charge. You’re able to browse a vast selection of potential matches until you find the right size, shape, color and cut that best suits you. Like what you see? Exchange a few messages with the person and if you’re not completely satisfied, returns are also hassle-free.

Know thyself, inside and out.

I admit my venture into online dating lasted a little over a week before I started to miss real human interaction and, of course, real sex. If you’re like me, don’t get too discouraged if you have no luck finding the perfect fit in the online love department. Just remember, solitude leads to personal growth and getting to know yourself is important before committing to another person.

May your holidays be filled with excitations and good vibrations.

Although modern technology can’t hold you in its arms at night or give you the emotional support you may need, battery-operated devices can sure as hell make alone time much more enjoyable, as well as great stocking-stuffers (to be kept out of grandma’s reach, tucked away in the privacy of a sock drawer). So while you’re in hibernation this winter break, spend some quality time alone to reflect on your personal needs, both mentally and physically.

Even though my online dating stint wasn’t a sweeping success, it did open my eyes to a whole new realm of new-age dating, not to mention helped to curb an online shopping addiction just in time for the holidays.

Wishing you all a very sexy holiday!