Let’s do some close reading for a moment.
[Insert obligatory shout out to my freshman year writing teacher–what what!]
When you sign up for OkCupid, you effectively acquiesce to Cupid’s wiles. When used together, “Ok” and “Cupid” connote consent.
Yes, friends, I speak from experience.
Think of the functions on the website and app as virtual variants of Cupids’s arrows. When you visit a profile, give a person a rating, send a message or participate in the blind date game, you are performing an act that, much like an arrow, can penetrate a person’s virtual world. Our virtual world and the experiences we have within them have become increasingly important as screens have become our primary mode of communication over the past decade.
[Insert translation: Online dating is okay in the 21st century]
Just because you have the means to enter someone’s world doesn’t mean you can actually hit the mark. The rating system and the Locals function that is specific to the OkCupid app require that the person give you a high rating or “like” you, respectively, before you can send/receive a notification that connects you with one another.
Online dating is just as much of a game as dating the more traditional (and socially acceptable) “Happy Days” way.
Don’t get me wrong, I love “Happy Days”–Richie Cunningham was my first crush (I didn’t realize the show was filmed in the 70s, whoops). Unlike “Happy Days” dating (where there are few, if not any control mechanisms–other than gender roles…but that’s a discussion for another day), the website and app functions in OkCupid provide you with an immediate sense of control over the construction of your “love life” because you have virtual tools to aid you with the process of courtship. But that sense of control is fleeting because you can’t manufacture the response of the other party.
Let me just start by saying that I didn’t start on OkCupid. I actually used an app called LetsDate because Facebook suggested it to me. Facebook told me that it could help me meet “cool, alternative guys with tattoos.” I’m 23, I graduated from college with honors, I’m a culture snob and like to use words like “space” “construct” and “heteronormative”–SO NATURALLY, I WOULD BLINDLY FOLLOW FACEBOOK.
I honestly don’t know why I finally gave in to the persistent advertisements for Let’s Date, but I don’t regret it at all. And Facebook actually wasn’t that off base. I did meet interesting guys with tattoos. More importantly, though, the men I have met have all taught valuable lessons about how we fill our lives as we move through our twenties.
And on that note, I would like to share some highlights from my online dating experience so far (no my friends, I have not given up yet), as well as some weird lessons (coping mechanisms?) I have learned along the way:
– If a date is uncomfortable, what do you do? JUST MAKE OUT. It’s a great temporary fix. I learned this rule very early on. Not sure what to say? Unsure about how the date is going? Fool around a bit. It gives you a reason to giggle, smile and then walk away feeling a little bit satisfied, even if you never see that person again.
– A guy I had been messaging asked if we could chat on the phone and I agreed. Within the first five minutes of our conversation, he confesses to having been investigated by the feds for selling pharmaceutical drugs to celebrities. I know what you’re thinking, HE WAS JOKING. I thought so too at first. But then he just kept going on about it–how he supplied to athletes and such, but it’s all in the past for him now, blah, blah blah. I didn’t know what to say. Somehow, we chatted for a bit longer…but that was the first (and last) time I talked to him. I have to admit, though, I’m still curious and I couldn’t help but scour Google for a good five minutes, trying to find information about how the feds caught him.
– I had been messaging this guy for about a week. He seemed nice enough–he included emoticons in his iMessages and sent me pictures of his dogs. When we finally met in person, he tells me that he wants to “take me on a trip.” When I asked him where, he says “anywhere.” Excuse me while my mind runs through a million “kidnapping” scenarios. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten an avocado grilled cheese sandwich as fast as I did that afternoon.
– I set up a vintage shopping date with a guy who I had been messaging for a few days. I know what you’re thinking: not a good idea for a first date. But hey, everybody makes mistakes and let me be honest, I was itching to go shopping and this guy was willing to be my companion so…it just happened. Long story short, the awkwardness reached its peak while we were in a boutique just off Vermont. The guy was trying on a shirt and came out of the fitting room to show me. I had acted a bit standoff-ish while we were in the other stores so I was trying to make up for my behavior by focusing on him. When he asked me what I thought of the shirt, I told him I liked it (and I honestly did). The next part, however, I didn’t expect. After digesting my opinion, the guy proceeded to engulfed me in a hug and thank me. Yes friends, the girl at the register watched all of this happen. I take responsibility for suggesting an awkward date, but the hug was definitely the icing on the cupcake.
– A guy asked me out on a date in his first message and I agreed. He suggested we grab drinks at a fancy beachfront hotel, which, of course, puts me on to Sugar Daddy fantasies. But that’s not even the good part. Within 20 minutes of sitting down, the guy tells me I have “that sexy lesbian look” and follows up with the question, “but you’re straight right?” Honestly, I was flattered by the sexy lesbian comment. But asking me about my sexuality? Asking a pro-choice, LGBT loving liberal about her sexuality? He shouldn’t have asked the question because he had no idea how to respond when I told him that it doesn’t matter whether I’m gay or straight. You don’t need to know in order to answer to other people. What matters is knowing it for yourself.
– When I first started online dating and wouldn’t hear back from awesome guys who I had gone on a date with I would get pretty disappointed and down on myself. But I soon realized that I never actually lose out on anything because a) I get an excuse to eat and explore my way through LA b) it’s probably free for me because the guy paid.