OK Cupid–worthwhile or worthless?

5 Apr

(Warning: this posting is a tad more personal)

A few months ago a friend mentioned that she was going try internet dating; the experiment would be painless, however, because she planned on using a site that was completely free. OKCupid. I had never heard of it. But then, as tends to happen sometimes when you’re alerted to something, I started to hear it spoken of by many different people (all women).

Though I don’t consider myself in need or in search of a mate of any kind, I thought I’d give OKCupid a try. I had recently moved to a new city, knew few people, and thought that the effects of such an experiment could only prove to be beneficial…or, at the very least, interesting.

So I started an account, not realizing until an hour had passed that OKCupid’s whole matching system relies on providing the answers to as many multiple-choice questions as can be handled. (I looked over a man’s profile who had answered over 700). I became fatigued after about 30. Perhaps it was the type of questions: What is your relationship to God? Would you have a relationship with someone who was married? How important is sex to you? Do you feel that honesty is of the utmost importance? Questions that, while arguably valid, ultimately do not truly provide any real insight into an individual. The fact that any user can insert a question into the formula is not as reassuring or appropriately democratic as it may seem. (I added one, it asked “Do you truly believe that providing answers to multiple-choice questions can really ever allow insight into your personality?”
Maybe I was too skeptical, and this skepticism was hindering my chances?

I tried to be open; I looked at profiles; I read multiple-choice answers; I read the required personal essays.

One man caught my eye. His face was covered in his profile pic, his personal essay was full of provocations concerning his desire to achieve world domination, his intellectual superiority, and his overall perfection. He seemed funny.

His bio stated that he preferred the age group 23-33, and though I overshot that by a few years I’d thought I’ve give it a try. I sent him an email, told him he was funny and that I’d like to chat, I mentioned that I was 40, and would that be a problem? He wrote back immediately: No, my age wasn’t a problem, but my weight was. He didn’t want to feed the fat chick, and he had wasted too many dates in his life buying dinner for fatties and adding to the problem.

Considering that I’m a size 7, I was a little surprised. I wrote back that his facts were wrong, but the fact that he was an asshole was indisputable. He retorted that I may not be fat, but I was still too old.

Wow, rejection and complete ridicule from someone I had never even met. Is this a standard situation from dallying in the internet dating world? I do not know. Its significance is probably more related to the type of man that I am wrongly attracted to. Anyway, why is this important? Too often, social and cultural assumptions are made concerning the belief that the average woman is just too picky for her own good, setting standards that no real human man can meet. However, the ways most female bodies–in magazines, films, and television– are made to look are incredibly distorted and diminished, and it seems that such distortions have successfully saturated expectations, permeating the status quo to the degree that “curvy” reads as fat, 40 as old.

The virtual internet dating world, though the participants engage (at least initially) blindly with others, does not differ from the dating rituals that occur in the real. The expectation is that one parlays his or her ideals onto the void/website; the distortion that occurs is not fun, imaginative, or even really creative, but is instead reliant on real world biases, categories, and stereotypes. Avatars exist only insofar as they suggest simulation of real world dreamgirls.

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