I've had a pretty good week so far; last week's post did well and the SSSBP (Super Special Saturday Bonus Post, because that's a bitch to type out over and over again) did similarly well, even though I don't feel like it was my best work. I intended it to be more Analysis and less harsh review but I mean...Clash of the Titans was so bad...
In totally unrelated-to-postings-but-still-related-to-me-and-my-good-week news, my birthday was this Tuesday! I'm one year older or, as an old friend of mine put it, I "Successfully completed another orbit" which makes it sound like I shifted some cosmic bodies around or something. Who knows? Maybe I do...When I was a kid I thought that maybe the Earth only moved when I walked so like If I moved north, I wasn't moving, the Earth rolled south towards me. Like log-rolling
Like this, and I imagined similarly confusing and disorienting results for the people in China. I was a weird-ass kid.
But I'm excited for this week's topic. It's one I've wanted to do for a while and actually have put through the polls one time before. It was suggested to me by someone who's name I can't remember so mysterious someone, if it was you, please be sure to tell me so I can cite you properly!
Now let's do this shit.
THIS WEEK'S TOPIC IS:
Thing's You Start Noticing once you Join a Dating Site
Being me is a lonely existence, Internet. There's only room for one in the twin-sized bed of Tom's life and that one is Tom (or maybe also a small dog, if there's a thunderstorm). Sharing it often results in crowding, misplaced elbows, blanket fighting, and Oh God how are you so stupidly hot that my sheets are soaked with our gross, non-sexy sweat, yet your feet are freezing?!
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
No, often I have to forgo the womanly affections because that's just the way life is, I'm just that kind of guy. A loner. Sometimes though, maybe after I've spent two solid weeks indoors at my computer or my varied, shocking, and often downright disturbing porn collection fails to satisfy or even just after a particularly rousing game of single-player twister, I forget this truism and foolishly saunter off into the world of 'singles searching.' It's then that I enter what I like to call "Tom's Figure-8 of Love"
Stick arts by Reader Ivy
I can stay in one circle, but the longer I do, the more likely it is that I'll end up in the other one, somehow.
Having hit the "Maybe I should find someone nice" stage again fairly recently, I decided to try my hand at online dating, to try and counteract the fact that I really really don't like a whole lot of people. Ultimately this ended up mostly a failure for largely the same reasons that it was a failure in real life, those being "I really really don't like a lot of people"
Still, I continued, ignorant of this fact, and started sizing up some of the more prominent dating sites. E-Harmony had great reviews about it and is by all accounts one of the most popular sites but...it costs money. I am broke. I was assured by one of my female classmates that she had never paid for a day of it, the reason being you can receive and reply to messages without paying, but you need to subscribe to send them to new people and since she was a girl, she never had to pay because it was expected that the guys would always send the first message. This is the first thing I realized about Online dating; it is really really inherently sexist. It doesn't mean to, it's not designed to, but because of the people who use it, it becomes that way, moreso even than in real life.
I spoke with a female friend about this and, from what she told me at least, it really does seem to be more or less just keeping the pecking order up. Additionally, she said that every time she sent a message to a guy, she never got a reply back, which seems baffling to me. I have been on one site for I think getting on a year and I have been contacted by exactly three girls. Three. Five if you count over instant message, of which there is no record. Over a year. I responded to all of them, and all of them turned out to be really boring, but I did respond because they were the only people who had messaged me first.
Pictured; what I was doing before these people messaged me and immediately after they turned out to be really boring people.
Am I just weird? (Yes) Is having a girl message you first, make the first move, like a super big turnoff for some guys? Fellas, help me out here; I simply don't know. Personally, I find it incredibly attractive because as an Awkward White Male (AWM) it means that I don't have to suffer through that period where I'm not at all sure if a girl is into me or not, but have to keep acting like she totally is until she's not and I look like a complete ass.
In the same lesson I also learned that the places that host these dating sites are really really sneaky. A lot of them will tout being "Free" but that free is in extremely suspicious quotes, often letting you set up a profile and even browse other people's pages, but then jerking back the leash and demanding you pay a toll before you can so much as interact with another person.
Don't get me wrong, I understand that it's a business like anything else and that these sites need to make money to support themselves, but do they have to do it by pretending to be free, demanding that you pay them after you've signed up, then emailing you every week about all the hot singles you're missing because you didn't fork over the dough? That seems a little Faustian to me...
Eventually I did find a site, a nice little place called OKCupid. It's completely free, a lot of the "Get to know you" questions are user-generated, and it's a pretty nice, high-quality site overall. I've heard it called the Facebook of dating sites and...well, yeah, that's just about right. I set up a profile with some pictures and a stupidly somber description that I need to change and started browsing some other users. That's when I discovered another little idiosyncrasy that online dating brings out in people:
EVERYONE IS BEARS!
People, in general, are not very creative. To an extent, there's only so much creativity you can have before you're just plain out of ideas, but really; people are just not very creative. When you're given a choice to do something someone else has already done or do something original, the ability to just do something over again is almost too distracting to create anything at all. As someone in a naturally creative field of study, even (some might say, especially) I find it hard to be creative now and again. Imagine what it's like for those people who aren't.
Look over enough profiles and you'll notice certain words and phrases popping up over and over and over again. A Disproportionate number of girls claim to be things like "Sarcastic" and "Down to Earth" to the point where I don't even really think they know what that means anymore. At this point, these just seem like things people tack on to themselves to seem more appealing, like monkeys finding shiny things to stick in their fur. Do monkeys do that? People do, so I mean...
Antropologists, go crazy.
Another thing I see pop up in a similar fashion is personal tastes. Guys, remember how in high school, how cool/rebellious you were depended on what kind of music you listened to? Remember how liberating it was to get out of high school and be done with that? You could finally listen to Kenny G and the Bee Gees and not worry about people making fun of you. Well, okay, you at least wouldn't have to worry about people not being your friends because of it. Online dating means though, that you don't always have the opportunity to judge someone by the deeper fabric of their being and so have to judge them by slightly more superficial means which, you guessed it, makes things like your choice of music much, much more important.
It's not just how people get perceived because of silly stuff like their music. We kind of know that this is all most people will see of us, so we make it more important. To appease people, we create caricatures of ourselves which highlight and exaggerate what we think are our best features, even if these features don't actually factor much into who we are. Aren't brains weird, Internet? I've seen a simply obnoxious amount of girls claim that "Music is my life" despite being...accounting majors, nurses, future trophy wives. Don't get me wrong; I like music, music is great and a fantastic bit of Human social development, but I find it a bit hard to swallow that so many people simply wouldn't be alive, physically or emotionally, without constant access to their music.
AUGH GOD IT'S IN MY ARM, WHY DID I DO THIS? IT DOESN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE; TURNTABLES ARE CLEARLY NOT MEDICAL EQUIPMENT NOR DRUG PARAPHERNALIA.
You see the same old battle-lines drawn, too. Girls looking for their perfect cowboys talk about how country they are and how much they love country music, girls who like the more cosmopolitan urban hipster thing will list a bunch of bands I've never heard of because, well, it's like collecting really obscure Pokemon to them. Kooky and Whacky girls will list off weird J-pop, Video Game soundtracks, and talk about how they're such uber nerds because they know vaguely what a Nintendo controller looks like and wear big horn-rimmed glasses that they have absolutely no need for.
It doesn't get any better on the guy's side either; usually just a lot creepier, in fact. Another female friend who I also met on OKC brought up the fact that there was a remarkable tendency for guys who described themselves as "Humble and respectful" to be both arrogant and total douches. Not just an occasional fib, either, this became kind of a red flag for reading through profiles; the more adamant they were about being respectful, the more likely it was that they were just saying that to make the bra clasp easier to fiddle with. Similarly, like girls had their go-to phrases, apparently a bunch of guys claim that they can "Love you right" which is just....No. At what point does writing something like that not make you seem creepy? I was also informed of a sub-demographic of guys that I was only vaguely aware of in women; the Marriage-obsessed. That is; the guys who are looking to marry something, anything, as soon as possible and have kids with it. Yeah. I did observe girls like this, usually among the cowboy crowds, but they didn't seem to be all that prevalent, or at least didn't talk about it as much. Maybe because it wasn't ladylike. I don't know. I'm not a lady.
While we're on the subject of creepy, remember how I said that, as a girl, if you joined a dating site, you were likely to get way more messages in a month that a guy got in an ever? If you think all of those are carefully-worded, honest and true admissions of attraction, then...Well, you've probably been reading a lot of romance novels. Roughly 75%+ of the messages either female friend got consisted of variations on "Hey" "Wats up" "I like your eyes" or "ur so sexy." Personally, as a guy, all the messages I ever got were like that. Remember what I said earlier about people not being very creative? How creative do you think those people are going to be on the spot?
BUT WAIT! It gets worse! Internet, I don't know if you've noticed, but old people have figured out how to use the world-wide-web! This has had predictable results; a net rise in chain-emails, snopes articles, kittens, and that stupid dancing baby .gif everyone got sick of fifteen years ago.
Yeah, you know the one.
But it didn't just stop at oblivious old ladies, no. Creepy old men figured it out as well and so you can expect a good third or more of your messages to come from the midlife crisis demographic. Ladies.
Now's the part where I qualify everything I've just said because I've spent this entire post saying some distinctly negative things about online dating, as a concept. I've said that Online dating is sexist, that it's conniving, that it dehumanizes and simplifies people, that it exposes the uglier parts of our psyches and that you're probably going to have an old man after your panties at some point, and all of this is true, but you need to remember one thing; these negative things are negative not because there's a problem with online dating itself, but because there's a problem with the people who use it, that being everyone.
The point of what I have to say here isn't that online dating sucks; I don't want you to leave this page with the idea that I'm against it. Clearly, I've met at least two female friends over OKCupid and I totally dated one of them for a while and split up amicably later. I'd call that a general success, wouldn't you? All I really want to get across is that the biggest thing that occurred to me while experimenting with online dating is that it really isn't the AWM salvation that everyone's been saying it is; it's really not anything more than a faster, slightly more impersonal way to get to know people than traditional dating and that whatever problems people rid themselves of in the traditional dating scene get replaced by different problems online. I'm sure it'll work better for some people than traditional dating, just like I'm sure going to a bar and getting someone's number will work better for other people.
It's a new experience and if you're still single and looking and haven't tried it yet, I encourage you to head over to OKC yourself because it really is a pretty good site. Don't think though that all your problems will magically vanish, or that if they do, they won't be replaced by other problems specific to the medium; new solutions always have their kinks to be worked out, just like the old ones and sometimes we forget that.
Really, the moral of this post is that people suck and I'm totally justified in being the misanthropic asshole I generally am.
Thank you, goodnight.