Trying to find love on the internet can be a harrowing ordeal. There are the creepers, the harassers, the well-meaning psychos and dudes who send you dick pics when a "hello" would have sufficed. And yet, this note, received by a San Francisco woman (and at least 10000 others) is the nail in romance's coffin. Because it misses the point completely.
The problem with the essay you are about to read (and I hope you're comfortable because it is a wall of very technical and completely unsexy words) is that the person who wrote the message, probably a very decent person, tried so hard to be transparent that he made his introductory message painfully and tediously dull, forcing anyone interested to dig through a morass of verbiage to decide whether this is someone they'd want to say hello to, let alone go out with. And then he sent it to thousands of people. In an effort to make this as easy for everyone involved as possible (including his friends, who he is pushing at you) this intrepid user made his message appear as if there wasn't any effort taken to be personable at all.
The entire message reads like a legal document, as if this 29-year-old from California wants you to know that he's okay, he's got references (!!!), he's sent a message before! And by doing that he literally takes out the mystery which is essential to any new relationship — never poop with the doors open — before the first date, making it easy to picture what your life with him might be like.
Look, I'm not trying to say it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, but there are other ways that show you're a stand-up kind of person than enlisting the help of your friends and writing out an FAQ about yourself. You have to do something to distinguish yourself from others, but what you're about to read isn't it. Even if the message has been revised four times for maximum efficiency. (Also: I met my partner on OkCupid and his first message to me was something like "I also like Nintendo. Do you like Pokemon?" and I was okay with this. That's not a horrible conversation starter!) (We have been together for six years off of that pickup line.)
Of course, I can't speak for everyone. Some people might take this gentleman up on his instructions to schedule an informal interview, but considering that he freely admits that his endeavors have been largely fruitless, it might be time to change tactics.
My Modest But A Tad Blunt Proposal IV
To meet up with you in person because I consider you to be interesting/attractive based on your profile. For the folks whom have received the first proposal please see the updates/musings at the tail end of this message.
1. This message has been used and reused on a number of interesting/attractive females
2. I am interested in meeting a significant other as well as meeting people in general.
3. Here are my well-maintained social media profiles to "prove" that I do exist outside of the digital world. Social media profiles: [REDACTED]
4. Potential red-flag: Haven't had a girlfriend in 7 years 5. Just getting back into the online dating scene.
Raison d'être for this proposal:
Prior to getting into the online dating scene, I had heard many fail stories (and a few success stories) when it came to free online dating sites. As I have mentioned above, based on my very limited knowledge of your world views and your chosen online appearance, I have made the assessment to deem you of sufficient compelling interest for me to impart further effort to "get to know you better." To my understanding, there is a lot of wasted time involved with the online messaging that in all likelihood will end up nowhere for the both of us should you choose to respond through the confines of the limited OKC messaging system. This mutual annihilation of time (money) should not be taken so lightly and, hence, I have crafted My Modest Proposal to get the ball rolling. After all, the ends to this whole online dating website is not to develop only an online (albeit possibly passionate :P) relationship. Hopefully, if you have read this far into my message, then I am most certainly preaching to the choir.
1. Skim my OKCupid profile to see if I am remotely interesting and check out my facebook/linkedin profile to get an idea of what I am about.
2. Reply to this message OR, ideally, text/call my google number [REDACTED].
3. Schedule for a brief 5-10 minute phone interview.
4. If mutual interests persist, then we can schedule a meeting time/place of your choice (police station, health clinic, coffee shop, bar, etc.) TIP OF THE DAY: Choose a public place with plenty of pedestrian traffic!
5. Learn something new or try something new at the very least. Who knows where this could lead?
1. What if you are a creep? I am not. I can offer you at least 5 references upon your request within 48 hours excluding holidays and weekends. More importantly, I just passed a corporate background check by HireRight. w00t!
2. Why haven't you had a gf in 7 years? Long story, but basically I haven't met the right person. Duh!
3. Don't you realize that most girls are into the more subtle approaches? Yes, but I am not really looking for a plurality of matches. One is enough.
4. What if we meet up and we have a horrible time together? I will be truly sorry. I guess it is a risk that comes with this type of social experiment.
5. Are you socially retarded? No. OK, sometimes, but it's by choice and in full recognition of the social backlash and ramifications.
6. Are you a player? Hardly.
7. This sounds lame, but your failures vaguely intrigue me. Any luck thus far? I still firmly believe that it is a numbers game. I must have sent over 10000 messages and had a reply rate of less than 5%. I have met up with 15 people thus far including a girl living in Singapore.
8. How long have you been on OKCupid? Just filled out my profile on 9/9/2012. Proposal II was written on 11/27/2012. Proposal III was written on 2/4/2013 and was also distributed manually shortly thereafter. Proposal IV was written on 5/31/2014.
9. What if you are not my type? I got one of my good buddies on board okc. If you are not into 200+ lb Chinese Americans, then please give my svelte and sexy buddy, "Virt" a shot at love! YES he really is 6'3"!(recent transplant to SF, consummate professional, amazing chef, foodie, sophistication beyond belief) [REDACTED]
Updates since Proposal I:
1. I made a move out to Petaluma, CA to take up a gig at a cleantech company.
2. I have taken a 1 year break from the previous proposal due to uncertainties resulting from a move from Nevada back to Taiwan to complete my MBA and the subsequent global job hunt.
3. I've gone on quite a few dates armed with the aforementioned Proposal I and have certainly made some new friends with the logic being that it takes another quirky individual to answer my call.
5. If you feel like you missed out the first/second/third time around don't hesitate to give me a holla! My Excel VBA automated drivel driven misadventures on OKC predate this fella's digital game, but he has certainly taken it to a different level with the big data analysis. Check out this ted talk on the surprising honesty beholden to the internet. A bit counter-intuitive to the effects of anonymity typically associated with the internet. Pragmatism is still not quite dead in online dating!
Image by Tara Jacoby.