As life tends to get, it gets busy. And so, in an attempt to revitalize my social life, I have become part of the multitude participating in online dating. And what an experience that has been! More than any of the dating aspects, online dating has left me with a few questions, some of which I have not answered yet.
1)First off, does online dating eliminate or at least deter from appearance as the prominent mode of attraction?
Primarily, I signed up for OKCupid. Now, I would be remiss if I said I had never judged someone immediately by their looks, I have, and still do, despite my best efforts. The façade, attractiveness and general superficial (in the sense of being discernable by the eyes) are only too easy to rely on as evidence of character. But is that the only way to choose a friend, an employer, a lover? I should hope not!
On the OKC site, there are a ton, and I mean a ton, of questions provided in order to increase your percentage of compatibility with another individual. For people unfamiliar with the site, questions range from favorite activities, the rating of the importance of politics, to preference for intimacy. But it is not the questions that one usually sifts through in order to determine attractions (or at least, I usually don’t), but the profile. Complete with photos section. For me, while physical attraction is important, I like to think that in order for there to be chemistry, there has to be something more.
I think that OKC does a decent job of balancing the interests, career and hobby sections of the profile with pictures. (On a side note, while it isn’t necessary to post a picture, it is reassuring to know who you are reading about by looking at a picture or two!)
For example, on the bottom of my profile, I mention that people should message me if they have a fun or interesting fact. People who message me with a fact or have similarly engaging personality traits/hobbies or depth to the generic profile makes me loads more attracted to them. I believe that the attractiveness of an intelligent person is of equal value to the physical, a concept that seems lost on the Hollywood scene and many movies, tv shows and sitcoms. A song that personifies this concept is “Skullcrusher Mountain” by Jonathan Coulton. This line from the song “and I’m soo into you,/ but I’m way too smart for you./Even my henchmen think I’m crazy/” says it all. The standard of beauty is not held up to the same level that intelligence is. (Please note that this is my interpretation of the song and I encourage you to listen to it (and love it!) yourself!)
A brief point of comparison. On a whim, I signed up for another dating site called Coffee Meets Bagel. It is a very mini version of OKC, in that you have a profile, however, every day at noon, it selects for you a person you are compatible with based on who you are friends of friends with on Facebook. I am still new to the site (it’s been 3 days), but I immediately noticed that the lack of information provided on the profile and the requirement to add pictures in order to sign up, may skew this particular site to elevating a more superficial characteristics of a person, built around a picture, than other dating sites.
2) What’s the cost benefit of weeding through the creeps to actually messaging and maybe meeting someone who’s not too shabby?
I was in doubt for a bit, when I first started OKC and when I signed up for CMB about being able to see past the creeps. On OKC it was overwhelming and discouraging the amount of derogatory or overtly sexual messages that people deemed acceptable to send. The post OKStupid Part One: Screening Initial Messages answered most of my questions, doubts and feelings about creepy messages. First, Jenny Talia introduced the concept of “Internet Dating Failures” to represent the “creepers and trolls and bros” on the site, followed by their typical messages. The post left readers with this advice:
BUT, have faith! There are some awesome people on OKC. Their messages look like this:
1) They are not creepy. Just listen to your gut – if it sounds creepy, it’s creepy.
2) Their messages comment about something besides for your looks. Duh.
3) There are at least two, preferably three, things mentioned from your profile. It means that he/she put an effort in to reading about who you are.
4) The messenger made one connection between you and him/her, like, “I love that book. I read it in school and it totally changed my perspective on life.”
If you get something like this, maybe you should check out that person’s profile. They’re probably not an IDF. Who knows maybe you’ll want to message back.
For CMB, this aspect is nonexistent due to the fact that you don’t message people. The only point of contact is if you, and the person selected both “Like” the other, in which case a third party number is provided to contact. The positive side of this is there is no sifting, beyond deciding if you “like” a person. Additionally, if you are low key person, there is only one person per day you have to deal with. On the risky side, you need to put yourself out there in order to even check if the person is creepy. AKA, start texting (via third party) or even agree to meet. Which can make things more interesting, and or frustrating.
3) Are these dating sites equally accessible to all? In other words, are all people in the LGBTQ community participating in and finding online dating sites a reasonable system for meeting new people?
This question came to me when I mentioned that I had signed up for CMB. A friend said, “Awww you want to meet heterosexual men!” to which I thought, Hmmm, are sites such as CMB and OKC known as “heterosexual dating sites? I also don’t have an immediate answer to this question, though to be honest, it deserves its own post. From my own experience, when I was signing up for OKC or CMB, I didn’t check all the options for dating “preference”. I can assume that OKC has some openness, because occasionally a bisexual man will appear in my possible “match” section. But how about other dating sites? What is the experiences of the LGBTQ community in online dating? What are some resources that come to mind (dear readers), that may answer this question?