I swore I would never become someone who dates people they meet online. I thought this form of dating was strictly for middle aged divorcees or people who wanted to take their sexting standards a step above craigslist personal ads.
Then one night it happened.
I got drunk and bored (a dangerous combination) and decided to investigate the world of OkCupid.
The sign up process was surprisingly simple and within seconds I had a complete profile, including a “self-summary”. This slightly sarcastic summary informed the online dating world that I had only drunkenly signed up out of curiosity and because I was looking for someone to buy me pizza and play video games with me in their underwear.
What I learned during my brief five month stay on the online dating website is that online dating is a contradiction in itself. You sign up under the impression that you’re on the internet – the one place where you won’t be judged for your twerking pics and you can be completely honest in your profile. You know, where you can ACTUALLY be yourself?
One of the OkCupid profile questions even encourages this with the question “what’s the most private thing you’re willing to admit?” Ironically the most popular answer to this question on other profiles was “that I’m on this website.” Nonetheless, this sort of bare-all honesty is encouraged in online dating and that’s a good thing, right?
See, here’s the thing, we’re better off meeting the old fashioned way. When meeting someone at a bar, nobody is there to warn you that they are wearing a fedora in every social media default they have or that when you start texting them, you’ll find out they don’t understand the difference between your and you’re. You can make assumptions, but for the most part standards are lowered dramatically when leaving the online world.
When you first meet a person at a bar, you only care about their looks and their most basic personality. That’s it. You don’t get to find out if there’s anything remotely shitty about them or their tastes until after you’ve exchanged numbers. Flirting outside the internet has almost become the Russian roulette of the dating world. You don’t know what the hell you’re bringing home at the end of the night.
Online dating should be making us less judgmental of each other because of how open we’re being, but I find myself rejecting more people online for shallow, silly reasons. If they were to approach me in public I’d most likely be happy to chat with them for a few drinks and who knows, get something more out of it other than a wink and deleted message. Even if they DID pass the initial online profile screening, sometimes I would stop responding a few messages into a conversation just because they weren’t entertaining enough. You can’t do this at a bar when the conversation starts to die. Instead you order more shots and hope things don’t take a turn for the worse.
Maybe it’s a waste of time to try to connect with someone in person based only on what they tell us. The first thing we do is Google the shit out of them anyway! With the way things are headed, online dating is going to become the acceptable way of getting a date. Soon, the people who met at a bar or in the park or grocery store parking lot are going to seem like the strange ones.
“Wait you only know a few basic facts about your date? But how do you know you’ll get along? Did you at least look at their twitter page first?” Soon it’ll become strange to not know a person before you actually get to meet them.
I hope we keep the mystery alive for a bit longer. The answer to OkCupid’s general prompt of “what’s the most private thing you’re willing to admit?” changes drastically once you meet in person. Plus, meeting in person makes the flirting and getting-to-know-you process way more fun, especially after a few drinks. So let’s take advantage of swapping secrets with strangers while we still can.