When discussing internet dating, I’ve had to start snapping rubber bands against my skin when I begin a sentence with “the problem with internet dating is…” To hear me tell it, internet dating is an unmitigated shit show with nothing to recommend it, which forces me to conduct uncomfortable soul-searching sitdowns with myself to answer the question of why I bother.
To re-cap from my last post, here briefly are the things I like about internet dating: I don’t have to wear pants to look through what amounts to a “people catalog” (albeit a sometimes poorly-curated one); it’s free; it’s FREE; I have a handful of friends who’ve met non-repulsive partners online. And perhaps the most compelling reason: I — a flawless specimen of elegance and distinction — am on there, and I see no reason why it should defy logic that my male counterpart be as well.
But oh, there are problems. The one I spend time thinking about is how hard it is to disconnect and how demoralizing it is to see, (to borrow my favorite Pink Floyd song), the same lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year. Especially when I know from the experience of having gone out with them what’s written between the lines: “aspiring artist” (any kind) = part-time server at Red Lobster. “cruiser enthusiast” = no car, never leaves capitol hill unless chauffeured by a girl. “Loves beer more than own mother” = likelier to wet your bed sooner than your first-born is. “Loves to cook” + any reference of roommate = lives with ex-girlfriend or parents, has no venue in which to do all this spectacular cooking. What’s worse is knowing that these people could just as easily be rolling their eyes at the goods I’m still trying to peddle.
It’s this idea that tortures me the most: Being caught unloved by exes.
I came of age in the time of the Internet, so all I have from simpler times are stories rather than memories. Namely, the story of the lead singer of Chicago speculating on what should happen in the event he should pass by an ex-girlfriend on the street. And he should start to cry. Could she please just find it in her heart to look away? Or the story of Don Henley having to hear it from a mutual friend that his ex has found someone… instead of having fresh wounds salted with such facts every time he wants to do anything on social media.
Oh how I yearn for days of disconnect and serendipitous encounters.
It’s supposed to be such a huge world, but technology has made it smaller and people who should be dead to me are unavoidable in the unfairly intimate online ether. If you’ve ever made an inquiry to a craigslist seller about patio furniture, you know how impossible it is to get rid of them in your Gmail contacts. For months, MONTHS, a boyfriend I met online (who went on to be so gallant as to leave skidmarks on my guest towels after what apparently was an insufficient shower) popped up as a recommended friend on Facebook. People I might know?
Yes, a little too well thank you very much!
The problem with internet dating (suh-NAP) is that while it’s in some ways unnaturally anonymous, it can soon become unnaturally connected, and you’re stuck with not only the tenacious continued existence of someone you’d rather forget, but the internet’s suggestion that they are some kind of friend/match material! An invasion back into your thoughts and sometimes heart programmed by a merciless computer algorithm that you must suffer while not even wearing PANTS (mygodman).
Everything that’s good about internet dating is bad again.