You don’t know me, and you probably never will. I have never frequented the online dating scene, nor have I ever tried, nor will I ever try, and here is why:
You people are mean.
I hate to generalize a group a well-meaning individuals this way, because I am sure a lot of you are just trying to find someone with whom to share a lovely meal with. Someone who appreciates your jokes, or your strange love of Quentin Tarantino movies. As humans, we yearn for acceptance, no matter how hard we try to tell ourselves otherwise; by finding someone who adores us at the end of the day, we somehow achieve this goal.
Also, let’s face it, meeting people is hard work. It only gets harder as we get older, become more involved in our careers, and more established in our lives. Those nights out at the ‘the bar’ start looking like less appealing ways to meet someone worthwhile (and they are), so where do we go in 2013 to meet someone? The internet. We are a technology based society, and we feel comfortable on the internet, sitting behind the screen in our underwear on a random Thursday night before bed. It’s a very ‘no pressure’ situation for everyone involved, because this way, we are all casual and willing participants united on some website with a single common goal: Meet someone worthwhile.
The problem here is also what draws people to this route. The casualness of it all. In a way, it almost goes back to high school, with the initial judgments based on looks rather than personality. It’s incredibly easy to judge a book by his/her cover on the internet, which was pretty much founded on one basic and underlying principle: instant gratification. Sure, we want to start up a conversation with someone that we find visually appealing, but you know what? Fuck us for being such assholes and judging someone based soley on appearance. Do creepy people exist on the internet? Yes. Should we talk to everyone who talks to us, just so we’re not “being mean”? No. However, internet dating ettiquette says that we should try. After all, most of you are paying for this service, and at the very least you signed up for the chance to be emailed by potential partners. Being rude/shy now doesn’t really make much sense, does it? If you did manage to attract the creepiest guy on the internet, then you should politely disengage yourself from contact, with grown up words and a polite “thanks, but no thanks” message. If they don’t get the message, block them, report them, as this is the internet and there are no shortage of ways to remove a skeeze from your inbox.
What prompts this letter, are several friends of mine who have told me horror stories of online dating. All of them are different people, all of them are amazing and kind, and all of them are incredibly deserving of finding their potential ‘worthwhile someone’. They have nothing in common aside from being friends with me, and yet, their stories are all the same. Emailing someone with whom they have things in common, and never hearing back. Making it to the ‘first date’ scenario, and then never hearing back. Worse, emailing someone with whom they have things in common and receiving the terrible response of “Get lost.” And I wish that were an exaggeration on my part. I know that manners on the internet don’t actually exist, but even on a website where everyone has willingly decided to take part in the dating game, we revert back to our fifteen year old selves and start making quick and harsh judgments.
It’s terrifying, and pretty infuriating. To be completely honest, I would rather be turned down in person, as opposed to over the internet. The image of another human being sitting at their computer and criticizing me for any length of time actually makes my blood boil, and with the amount of information you write about yourself on those profiles, this somehow makes rejection worse. I mean, you saw that I like “travel and banana milkshakes” and that somehow turned you off to me? I don’t buy it. You saw from my photos that I might not be as skinny as you would like, or that my teeth are not perfectly straight, and you decided to just ignore my email. Possibly worse, you did reply with the ever-hurtful “Get lost” and have now left me feeling like I was back in the hallway at my high school being hopelessly (and obviously) ignored.
As far as I can tell, most online daters are more obsessed with how they appear to others online than actually finding someone. Much like Myspace and Facebook, it’s just another “look at me and how interesting I can be!” avenue, full of instant gratification in the form of ‘winks’ and ‘nudges’, giving into the need to feel accepted and wanted. Online dating should not be about shame or humiliation, but forming real human contacts, and building real human relationships. If we are truly all there for the same purpose, then wouldn’t it make sense to actually give a shit and not act like the terrible human beings we’re capable of being?
I Would Rather Be Alone