Thursday, December 23, 2004
by Wayne Besen
I once thought finding a date on the Internet was as easy as ordering a pizza. But when you order a pepperoni pizza, you can be pretty sure you're not getting anchovies. In cyberspace, however, if you ask for Don Juan, you're likely to get Don Knotts.
Recently, I was flirting with a guy on the Internet who said he was a great catch. He wasn't kidding. When I eventually met him in person he looked like a salmon. A few weeks later I met another man online who said he had a swimmer's build. When we finally met, I wanted to ask him, "What is your event, the cannonball?"
It's not any better for heterosexuals.
A girlfriend of mine was really excited because she thought she met a super guy in cyberspace who was handsome, articulate and well educated. In fact, "Matt" claimed he had a college degree from an Ivy League school. After a few dates, it turned out he had some degree of college from a bush league school. In the real world, these details matter. But online, it is lie now, pay later.
Inspired by Anna Nicole Smith, another girl I know was looking to meet a man of means. That's not my thing, but at least she is honest about her intentions. After trolling the web, she came across an older gentleman who claimed he had a Rolls Royce. A week later, the suitor shows up at her house in a rusty Ford Taurus.
Feeling misled, the woman asked, "What happened to the Rolls Royce."
"Look hon, you misunderstood me," he replied. "I said I've got a car and it rolls."
Experiences such as this have led to a dramatic revenue slowdown this year for online dating services. According to the New York Times, in 2002 the industry's revenues rose 73 percent over the previous year. In 2003 they grew again by 77 percent. This year, the growth of Internet revenues has only been 19 percent.
I believe the main reason online dating has peaked is because people are tired of meeting liars and weirdoes. At least in a bar you can usually figure out if someone needs a shrink within five minutes instead of fifty wasted hours looking at a glowing computer screen.
Another toxic side effect of online dating is that it has made it possible for some people to never leave their homes. I mean NEVER. These ghouls just stare blankly at the computer screen day after day and night after night, like zombies from an old movie on the Sci-Fi Channel.
I went on a date with one of these zombies and it was awful. He kept checking his Blackberry at the restaurant to see if he got any new e-mails. The guy had spent so much time on the computer that he could no longer converse in the real world. When he had to use the restroom he said "BRB" (Be right back). When he laughed he said "LOL". The man even smiled like the damn happy face symbol on America Online.
After perusing the Internet the last couple of months, I have a few observations:
* People who say "No Games" in their online profile are the most likely to turn your head into a Playstation 2.
* The person most likely to write, "looking for real people" is most likely to be superficial.
* Watch closely for incongruities. For example, if a person's profile says, "money isn't important" and that his or her favorite hobby is "shopping" there is a good chance the person is a shoplifter.
* When a guy says he has a "football build", it is important to ask what position he might play. There is a big difference between a sleek tailback and portly center.
* When a guy says he has a wrestlers build, it is important that he distinguish between Greco-Roman and Sumo.
* If a person leaves out "age" in his or her profile, it means the person is old enough to have voted for Abe Lincoln, or young enough to land you 10 in the hoosegow.
* If you are chatting online and you ask someone if they are married and they reply, "Define Married" your are either conversing with Bill Clinton or someone just like him. Neither scenario is good.
The only way to find Prince Charming is to first accept yourself for who you are. There are clubs, bars and Internet websites that cater to every different taste imaginable. Or, as a wise man once said, "There's an ass for every seat."
If you think about it, there is only one group of people that isn't desired by anybody - Liars. So, here is a New Year's resolution that I think millions of people should consider: "I will not fib on the Internet".
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