Talkin’ ‘Bout Love: Online Dating and You

10 Aug

Mid-summer in Toronto is a beautiful time of year. I’m not talking about the leftover garbage strewn about from the weeks-long city workers’ strike. I’m not talking about the creeping, blanket-like humidity that’s overcome my fair city for days now. At the risk of sounding crass, dear readers, I’m talking about the fact that Toronto is home to some of the most stunningly beautiful women on the planet.

toronto girls hooters

Of course, I’ve probably just alienated any member of my readership who isn’t a straight male (sorry about that folks). But I’m coming to a point, so bear with me.

I’m no stranger to love, believe it or not. Yes, there have been a select group of women in history good enough to lower their standards to accommodate a haggard-looking cynic with trust issues. But it’s been my experience that I meet these often-sanity-challenged gems in a public setting – bars, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, in line at the coffee shop, whatever. What I’ve never understood is how people get their heads around meeting online (with one notable exception – don’t ask).

crazy woman sign

See, I’m as big a fan of the fairer sex as the next straight, single guy. Trust issues aside, I like women. I respect women. And I’m very inclined to get to know them if they’ll give me the time of day. But always, always in person. It’s been said that you can be anybody you want to be online: certainly a number of DateLine specials have proven that beyond the shadow of a doubt.

dateline pedophile

And while I’ll admit there’s something to be said about getting to know someone before meeting in person (that’s how I wound up traveling to England to meet Ant Martin, for example), there is a lot of opportunity to be had behind a computer screen to bend the truth about yourself, make yourself out to be something you’re not, or just straight-up lie about everything. Realistically, Ant could have just been masquerading as a talented young musician/upstart promoter, and in reality might have been a 45 year old Norwegian taxi driver called Finn with a bad comb-over and a taste for boy-boy love.

honesty on the internet

Take for example the myriad selection of custom-designed dating websites available nowadays. Match.com, PlentyofFish, LavaLife, E-Harmony, etc. etc. &c. Hundreds more. They appeal to all demographics (young daters, elderly folks, straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, swingers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Jehova’s Witnesses, people with incurable STDs, job descriptions, married people looking for a discreet fling). Most of them have a notoriously-sexist pay scale (men pay, women don’t – kind of like the club district). And everywhere you go it’s the same thing – long walks on the beach, cuddling on the couch, fine wine (but not too much – we’re “social drinkers”), and of course the ever-present requirement for a “sense of humour”.

dream guy

A brief aside: let me tell you something about sense of humour. It’s not universal. What you find funny and what I find funny are almost certainly going to be extremely disparate. Chances are, if you thought “Boat Trip” was funny, we’re not going to have an awful lot in common. Conversely, if you don’t get why “Doctor Strangelove” reduces me to a two-hour stint of uncontrollable giggling, our association will probably end at coffee or drinks or whatever, because clearly you are fundamentally deficient in more ways than I can count. Same thing goes for your taste in music and literature: if your idea of masterful composition is the latest remix featuring Akon and you just finished re-reading “Confessions of a Shopaholic” or, God forbid, “Harry Potter”, our conversations will last long enough for me to pay my tab and get the hell out before you infect me with suck.

harry potter fans

Yeah, I’m still single. Surprised?

alex james

Anyway, I recognize why these services are offered and why they’re so popular. If you leave aside the social rejects, the painfully shy, the unfortunately-deformed and the patently psychopathic, a huge market exists among normal people for hassle-free dating. In today’s culture, lots of people are just too damn busy to “meet new people” (as the tag lines run). We live in an increasingly disconnected society where people just don’t socialize anymore. To say nothing of the fact that the bar scene is a great way to contract a host of less-than-friendly “social” illnesses, blind dates set up by friends more often than not end in disaster, and unless you happen to be a ruggedly handsome musician at large (not pointing any fingers here) the chances of someone approaching you out of the blue in a public setting are pretty damned slim.

So the prevalence of online dating makes sense to me, because it allows a chance for people who haven’t had any luck with the standard channels to try something new. Okay, nobody ever uses anything but their very best, most flattering, generally most unrealistic photo of themselves (or contrarily their best photoshop skills) to attract potential mates, and the “about me” sections are typically banal and recycled, but I still dig where they’re coming from.

But then there are the cheap bastards who won’t shell out for a membership to one of these above-board sites (or maybe they’ve been kicked off for gross . Thankfully, they have a host of other canvases upon which to paint their masterpieces of desperation and bullshit, chief among these being the often-distasteful but always-entertaining world of Craigslist.

craigslist

Good god almighty, my friends. Have you seen any of this Craigslist shit? I gave up reading the Men Seeking Women section after I realized there are pretty much two types of M4W ads. Type 1:

“I: put a post on craigslist
You: are slightly interested and reply back
We: exchange some generic emails

I: try to entertain you with exciting conversation
You: decide to give me a chance anyways
We: go for a walk and get a coffee.

I: be honest, thoughtful, supportive, fun,
You: patient enough to put up with a goofy guy
We: fall in love and make life more enjoyable for each other for the rest of our lives

or somehting [sic] along those lines, what where you thinking?”

lame guy at computer

Seriously brother, do you find this sort of thing works for you usually? We exchange emails, get coffee – and live happily ever after? If that were the case, Tim Hortons would be even more overrun than it is already on a day-to-day basis. Believe me, if coffee was not just the black blood of creativity (thanks Hank) but was also the gateway to eternal love, Columbia would have been strip-farmed long ago.

And here’s type 2:

“Hi,
Seeking a chat partner on a regular basis for erotic chats. I am an articulate and educated professional man,. If interested drop me a note.”

pervert

Sigh. Boring. The rest are variations on these two themes: the “good guy who just can’t get ahead, want to take a chance” and “me have big huge penis and want to put it in you in a variety of creative ways (if by ‘creative’ you mean ‘dear Penthouse Forum’, which I do).”  The sheer audacity of these guys staggers me.  Here’s a Craigslist “missed connection” featured in a local paper this morning:

craigslist ad toronto metro

Oh, and for the rest of you: thanks for the pictures of your fuckin’ package too, gentlemen. I’m sure all da ladiez in da hizzouse will appreciate the tighty-whities gracing your white-boy frame.

photo redacted

But the women are no better. If there’s one acronym I get tired of seeing on the W4M posts, it’s “BBW”. Okay, I get it. You’ve got a few extra pounds (sometimes more than a few) and you’re either a) proud of it, or b) ashamed by it with a facade of pride, but frankly, I don’t think you should have to qualify it to a bunch of no-face losers on the internet. Be what you’re going to be – do I want a picture or physical description? Sure! Do I need it in the title of your post? No. Be proud, don’t pander to a bunch of troglodytic morons who will skip your post because of that nomenclature.

sir mix a lot

And as far as what you’re looking for – first of all, Craigslist is not the right place to go to find a husband (not sure if anybody told you that or not), and second of all, if all you’re looking for is some generic EMO boy to go to the Paramour concert with you, can’t you just hit up your local high school?

paramore fan

I’d talk about the sex posts, but frankly I don’t have the stomach.

photo redacted 2

I guess the point I’m making is that it’s a sad, sad world we’re living in where we’re reduced to finding potential love from the comfort of our couches. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big proponent of the idea that we should start getting back out there – meeting face-to-face – having real, tangible human connection instead of just throwing out meaningless factoids into the cyber-ether, hoping that your perfect match is sitting on an identical couch in an identical basement apartment doing the same thing. If love really means that much to you, go out and grab it by the throat, throttle it into submission and really make it happen. Quit fiddle-farting around.

date site lie

I wish I could end this post with a tongue-in-cheek link to my online dating profile, but I just have too much self-respect left.  As far as you know.  This is the internet after all.

7 Responses to “Talkin’ ‘Bout Love: Online Dating and You”

  1. Brent Chittenden August 11, 2009 at 9:44 AM #

    The problem is that bars have changed over the years from casual conversation to meat market.

    Take me for example.

    I’m in my early 30’s, looking to settle down, not into clubs, not particularly looking for a one night stand (not that I mind the occasional fooling around) but esentially looking for a woman with the potential to settle down.

    My friends are pretty much settled down into marriage or long term relationships but are either a closed circle of friends (new women are rarely brought in and the single women in the group have dated one or more of the guys in the group) or are a group of friends who don’t have single friends.

    Like remember all those sitcoms where the friends try to hook up there one single friend with a girl they think would be perfect for them? And hilarity ensues?

    Yeah doesn’t happen in real life.

    So being that I currently live in a small town where the bar scene is even smaller then that of Toronto (“Oh hey we went to high school together? You’re single now? 3 kids eh? That’s coo….3 different dad’s?….well that happens…wait aren’t you like five years younger then me?”) the internet is one of the few ways I get to have interaction with a woman and go on the occasional date.

    Now I’ve been on decent ones (one turned into a relationship that last a few months) and a few nightmares but overall it’s been an alright experience overall.

    But then again, I’ve never tried to post myself on Craig’s list.

  2. Shayla August 11, 2009 at 11:02 AM #

    Wow, that “missed connection” was amazing. It’s frightening how delusional some people are.

    Also (and I based this on practically nothing, since I haven’t dated since high school), while I’m not much of a fan of meeting people online, I have to say that meeting people at a bar kind of doesn’t sound much better to me. “We met at a bar” scores pretty close to “We met on the Internet” for unromantic/gross points. I like getting drunk as much as the next twenty-something person, but personally I don’t want to search for a lifemate in that environment.

  3. Alex James August 11, 2009 at 11:12 AM #

    Well said Shayla. Meeting in a bar is pretty skeezy — and there’s something to be said for the argument that meeting while drunk is just as misleading as meeting online (I’ve woken up next to enough people who I’m absolutely sure weren’t the people I passed out next to that I’m something of an expert on the subject), but on the same token, at least it’s still face-to-face. People can still lie, but it’s easier to catch them in the act if you can see their eyes. Their real eyes, not the eyes of the profile pic they lifted from CreativeCommons.

  4. phinux August 11, 2009 at 6:39 PM #

    Interesting post. Here are my thoughts:

    First of all, “common interests” is overrated- you can just as easily hit it off with someone if they like (what you think is) crap in terms of music and books. Are they important? Yes. But you never can tell. There are different types of smart.

    Second of all, you should NEVER EVER PAY FOR A DATING SITE if you can possibly avoid it. Take it from someone who’s worked on the inside: with the possible exception of LavaLife, most of them are scams and are harder to get out of than a gym membership. Don’t sign up for any paid membership until you’ve done ample research into how many people they’ve screwed over. I’m totally serious- even ones that look all flashy and legit could have a bad customer-service rep. ALWAYS look them up first before you give them your CC#, or you might get billed every month for the next five years, whether you want to or not.

    But overall, I agree with you- chemistry is not something that can be established over the Internet, though the net is indeed a valuable tool. It’s a bold testament to the fact that people just try too darn hard- sometimes it’s just better to go out and find things that you enjoy, and see what happens.

  5. Yes Messenger August 31, 2009 at 5:26 PM #

    Gimme some wings! :-)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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