Thursday, January 06, 2005
JDATE: A HA'ARETZ PERSPECTIVE
This excellent article from Ha'aretz shows us that online dating is online dating, even in Israel: This is one of the problems of the Internet: Anyone can write anything he likes. The Internet is a paradise for the verbally inclined and the dating sites give an unfair advantage to those who can write well or are clever at hiding behind words. And yet, I've found that many men don't even bother filling out the profiles completely, never mind stretching the truth. I kind of wish they would write well or be clever enough to write words that made them more attractive. At least it would show a little creativity, a little of their individuality. Because then, in real life, they would be more attractive, even if they are, empirically, less attractive. (They so need E-Cyrano, it's ridiculous already.) The chance to fantasize is perhaps the big advantage of the Internet dating sites, and it's also their drawback. Finding a mate via the Internet takes time and thought. But while we're sitting at the computer and corresponding with growing intensity with people whom we really don't know the first thing about, we increasingly come to feel like we're having a lively social life and that the words appearing on our screen genuinely represent real people who have some kind of connection to our fantasy about them and to the thought that they are the one and only with whom we are destined to live happily and wealthily ever after. Sometimes this fantasizing goes on for so long that when you finally go on the date, you're already totally in love with the virtual character you've constructed for yourself as a result of your correspondence, who doesn't always bear much resemblance to the actual person. I think this is one of the reasons that my friends all report having been so successful when it comes to IM and email banter, but why so few of those have transitioned into real life meetings. More often, they report of the instant connection, the "clicking" so loud that it's palpable even over DSL, followed by a drop-off in correspondence and eventual disappearance. No one wants to shatter the fantasy. Now here's a great story--that sounds all too familiar--that's simultaneously appalling: Noa says she gave up on searching via the Internet because she discovered that while women are looking for certain personality traits in their potential mates, "with men, it starts and ends with outward appearance, or else they explicitly say that they will not respond to inquiries from women who haven't attached their photo, and then on the phone they interrogate you for hours to make sure you're not fat or wrinkled, god forbid, unless they're the type that are after women who are `plump and juicy.' The ones seeking women like that are usually also the maniacs who are interested in nothing but sex." Adi, for example, talked on the phone with a man who asked her if she "is one hundred percent sure that she is not overweight at all." She happens to be thin, but this question really annoyed her and so, she says, "I asked him right away if he's one hundred percent sure that he has no financial problems. He swore that he didn't and later on, when we met, it turned out that he actually wasn't employed at the moment and also forgot his wallet at home so it was my job to pay the bill." Remember the IM conversation with the guy across the pond? Men are petrified of non-skinny women. It's really amazing. Is this just a cultural thing? Is it just Jewish men, despising their own cultural types? Are they afraid that the other men in their cave--oops, I mean, peer group--will shun them, forcing them to sleep furthest from the fire and (God forbid) die of exposure with extremely chapped lips? I think all men (and women too) should read Wendy Shanker. This is not about man-bashing; it's just that the world would be a better place. To put it in a classically self-deprecating manner, I want to be judged and rejected based on my own shortcomings, not those dictated by society. This is definitely a topic to be revisited.