The other night I went to drinks with a friend to discuss online dating. How did we get here, you might be asking?
Those of you who have been following this project from the beginning know that I was planning on NOT being on social media for 6 months, and instead would invite people to write to me and I would write back to them. I wanted to interrogate good old fashioned letter writing vs. Facebook, Twitter, and other places where we publish, to see if we really are making meaningful connections with each other, or simply becoming our own public relations person. The project thus far has moved from letter writing to becoming a drawing/writing/photo/print project, and I think I know what to do with the final product now, but I still have 2 1/2 months left to my 6 month original plan.
Back to the online dating conversation. I recently broke up with my boyfriend. The old-fashion way, in person. Though I did have an urge to write a Dear John letter just so I could include it as part of this project, I restrained myself and did not. I really wasn’t planning on dating for a while. I wanted to enjoy the quiet and the free time. I was thinking that when I was ready to date again I would ask my friends if they knew anyone. I would go to more places alone and talk to people. I would maybe even put out a wish to the Universe to send me someone and maybe even say a little prayer.
That was until one of my colleagues heard of my plans and marched into my office finger a waving and hand on her hip, declaring that under no uncertain circumstances would she allow me to wither away alone, and insisted that I go on several social media apps to find some nice guys to take me out and have some fun. I told her about my project, and she said, “F**K your project! This is about your life!” and grabbed my phone to begin loading apps.
Now, I promised to stay off communicating via social media as part of this project. I rationalized that this search for a date was not connected to my project because my project was about staying off of MY social media sites. That is other than this blog, which does post to my social media sites. I began to see the loophole in my logic, and I ran through it before it closed, and agreed to one week of dating via social media only.
To describe what transpired is currently being written into a movie, so I will not write about that here. Instead, back to the friend I was having a drink with at the top of this post.
So my friend actually owes me this drink because while I was on one of the dating apps I saw his picture! Let me note that his current girlfriend was NOT in the picture! I call him to tell him what I have found, and he becomes horribly embarrassed and tells me something about how his new phone automatically loaded the app, and that he didn’t know that he was still active on the site, and then he thanked me for telling him about it and offered to buy me a drink so he could coach me on online dating.
So, we get our glasses of wine, and then my friend says the most brilliant thing! He tells me how he used to date, which was a lot like the way I wanted to proceed. He then said, “With today’s technology, if you go up to someone somewhere and ask for a date, they think you are creepy because you DIDN’T find them on social media, and they DIDN’T see you on any dating sites.” What?! “It’s true,” he went on to say, “Today’s technology has changed the game.”
I found this eye-opening. I also found this disturbing. Apparently, even though a static picture makes it really impossible to get an essence of a person, especially the plethora of badly taken selfies that populate internet dating sites, (Mine, below, was taken by a professional photographer friend.) that is the way it is done nowadays. Being on a social media dating site proves that you have been vetted in some way, even though it is you who has done your own vetting!
As I drive home, I ponder what I have learned and think about how it relates to this project. Maybe I ask anyone I am interested in meeting on a dating site to write to me? Maybe I put in my profile that if you wish to contact me at all, please write to me first? That would certainly weed out the one-night-stand cruisers. But it might also rule out anyone who is exactly what I am looking for because they might think I am lying about my age and I am really 82, and that my granddaughter put me on this site using an old picture from the 1970’s!
I then think that maybe I should start a dating site called Cyrano, which requires the participants to write to each other first before even seeing a picture? Wait a minute, Cyrano had a good looking frontman! Roxanne did finally fall in love with Cyrano, despite his large proboscis, but it wasn’t what got her to listen to his words. Damn! I think I am fighting a losing battle.
Then again, what do I find to be the most important quality on a dating site? What the guys write. What attracts me to read what they write? Their picture! Call me Roxanne. Oh, boy! That has other connotations!
As far as my project Write to Me is concerned, I will still keep the mailbox until the end of June, allowing those who wish to participate in the project the “old-fashioned way” to do so. But, as of today, I am taking this project to my online sites and I will be participating in social media again. As far as my dating life is concerned? I have met someone I really like, online, and I have taken myself off of all dating sites. I do think I might still send him a letter at some point!