stalker/STD/unwanted pregnancy hunt 2014.

So yes shit has been happening that I haven't been writing about. Nothing at all bad, just yeah taking a break I guess maybe whothefuckknows.

One new development that seems to be worth at least thinking about writing about is this: in a conversation with my still pretty great therapist a few weeks ago, I was lamenting the fact that my current social/work situation doesn't make it very easy to meet unattached members of the fairer sex. I pretty much see the same 50 people all the time, and (at least) 48 of them are dudes.

He said, in all seriousness, "Have you thought about internet dating?" And in all seriousness, I had to say "Dude, fuck no." He smiled politely/sadly, and then in an well-designed attempt to soothe my inflamed sense of pride, he said something like, "Well it's actually become a pretty completely normal thing to do for people in your situation, who work from home, don't go to school, or have an otherwise limited social circle, or are just hopelessly awkward with people they don't know (he didn't really say the last one). There are lots of advantages to it: weeding out people you don't have anything in common with, being able to converse without having to shout over a crowd or pay for expensive drinks and food just to find out you never should have been talking to this person in the first place", etc.etc.etc.

This went on for some time. Eventually I kind of saw his point, and by the end of the session, he'd given me an assignment: sign up for at least one internet dating site before our next session. Fucker.

I'm writing about this scary-as-shit assignment here b/c well in reality I'm finding it pretty funny and educational so far, and I haven't found enough funny and educational things to write about lately, and well I think maybe my nine readers might also think it's at least a little funny, because for starters 1) I might not seem like the ideal candidate for internet dating, or at least I know that perhaps six of you nine people are chuckling to yourselves at the idea of showing up on a blind date and being faced with the prospect of me silently blinking at you from across the table. and 2) my first 48 hours of contact with the whole phenomenon have revealed to me a modest wealth of information that seems to want to bear some scrutiny, scrutiny being a word I have not typed nearly enough in my life thus far. Scrutiny.


Our story begins with questions. Lots of questions. I'm only dealing with one very popular dating website at the moment b/c 1) I can't imagine dealing with more than one, and because 2) this one seems to have a pretty good sense of humor about things (example here). More on this soon.

Upon beginning the signup process, unfortunately your first task is to choose a username. Not easy. I have many personal rules about usernames, such as not including numbers (unless I'm logging in as my cat Jo3n, which I totally just wrote without realizing at all how Crazy Cat Man it sounds, I swear there's a reasonable explanation), and usually using my IRL name, but in this particular case I thought it wise to not include one molecule of information that could be traced back to the real world me. I mean why would you.

The whole enterprise nearly ended here. I spent almost an entire day trying to come up with a non-creepy, non-emo, non-man-geek, non-committal, non-pervy, non-pretentious and generally non-personal-detail-revealing username. I wish I could tell you what name I sort of submitted to out of sheer exhaustion, but let me just say that I ended up going with something totally clinical, semi-meta, and hopefully mysterious in its profound unsexiness.

OK so then the site starts asking you questions, in order to "improve your matches". I thought maybe it would be like 20 or so questions. But they kept going. And going. Turns out there are 275,294 of them, I'm not kidding (I stopped at 600 800 1000, they're pretty addictive). There will be at least one entire post dedicated to the occasional awesomeness of these questions.

But for now, one completely awesome side effect of answering these questions is something called "% Enemy". As you answer questions, the site starts figuring out whether womens in your area are potential "matches" or potential "enemies", or more accurately, what percentage of each they are. At first I thought this taxonomy was a bit unnecessarily hostile, until I realized/remembered that, hold everything, some people enjoy dating/having sex with people that they don't even remotely like. A moment of silence please. 

But back to me. Once you've answered a certain number of questions, you're able to search for women based not only on how compatible you seem to be (% Match), but also how much you profoundly disagree about things (% Enemy), and by default the site will show you both. So for example, when you log in, it says "Hey UnsexyClinicalMetaName, check out BigBoobMarge from Buiksloot (25% Match/67% Enemy)."

This is utterly, morbidly fascinating. The 200x more nihilistic me from twenty years ago would've loved the idea of a series of dates with women who I knew for certain I had absolutely nothing in common with, although come to think of it "the me from back then" didn't really need a website for that, did we, it just kind of happened automagically.

Luckily, the modern me can turn on a filter in this website that specifies "only show me womens that I have shit in common with", so after that I get "Hey UnsexyClinicalMetaName, check out Maaike1970 in Amsterdam (74% Match/9% Enemy)". And then it displays how both of y'all answered the same 481 questions (or however many of the same questions you answered), and after seeing this data you start to think, wow how nicely efficient this whole thing could be.

OK, more soon as they say around here. One of the more obtrusive/addictive elements of this site so far is that it tells you the moment someone starts looking at your profile (you can turn it off, but how much fun is that). A few minutes ago someone just visited my profile who is a "4% Match" for me. IMAGINE THIS DATE.



Klary said...

someone wrote a book about this.. a scientific break down of the dating sites method, and applying that to his (her?) dating strategies. the title escapes me but google should be able to come up with it.

Michael O'Neill said...

Does the website have something like Google's "I'm feeling lucky" button? If so, you should push it, go no matter what, and write about it.

MEM said...

I don't think I have the stomach/liver for that date anymore.