It's a tale as old as time: Boy signs up for OkCupid. Boy decides that girls are just there to find someone not to be lonely with. Boy gets disillusioned. Boy messes with girls on a dating website as a poignant project showing off the deep loneliness inherent to online dating. Boy creates Tumblr. Everyone thinks it is art/a horrible idea.
Schuyler Hunt, a self-described nerdy guy who's just recently moved to New York City, wants you to know that he has no shortage of women banging at the door of his personal OkCupid account. In fact, considering how nerdy he is and how over-saturated the NYC dating market appears to be, he was surprised that so many women were filling his inbox with requests to meet up and have coffee. But then he ran into a problem: the women he was speaking to didn't seem to be interested in who Hunt was, his hopes, his dreams, his essence. They were interested, according to Hunt, into being with someone, anyone, as long as they could not be lonely anymore.
OK? First of all, that's a lot to assume from a couple of OkCupid conversatons; and second of all, isn't the rule of online dating that you're supposed to have a couple of quick conversations and then meet up for a drink or something as quickly as possible, before either of you have built the other person up too much in your head?
Apparently, that wasn't what Hunt had in mind. Instead of using the site as it was intended (to find dates), he decided to create a fake profile using his friend's picture, answer a whole bunch of questions randomly (let's be real, though, does anyone even look at those questions and believe the answers? I just checked mine from when I originally answered them nine years ago and I put down that I never drink and also want to have children by the time I'm 25. Neither of those things are now true) and then feed any conversation he was to have on the site through Cleverbot, that awesome program that all of us used to love in high school.
I'm going to go with it, but it seems like a pretty ridiculous waste of time. If OkCupid isn't working for you, just sign off and find your manic pixie dream girl (Hunt started the project because he so enjoyed the movie Her) somewhere else. What is this sitting around and actively messing with people trying to find dates? And isn't this idea that women who aren't that interested in who you are before even going on a date with you kind of narcissistic? I've been on dates without understanding their aura. Sometimes there was a second date, sometimes there wasn't. You move on! Find something to do with your time besides fuck with people who are looking for some kind of romance.
And honestly, the conversations that Hunt had with the women interested in his "vague" profile are pretty stupid and mundane. The beauty of Cleverbot is that it never really goes off the deep end, so at best what you're doing is having a slightly boring conversation with someone who doesn't appear to be a native English speaker. Check out one of the conversations from Hunt's tumblr:
There's nothing particularly weird or creepy about the conversation. It just seems like a dude who might be trying too hard to be edgy and some people like that. Some people might think that it was sweet. If I got this message, I might think "hey, this dude might be kind of fun" not "this is a robot meant to show me that I need to be less superficial when choosing a person that I might spend one to three hours with on a Tuesday evening." In fact, I've gotten a message like this and I've gone out with the person, and I've chosen not to go out with them again because they thought referring to star anise as "STAR ANUS HAHAHAHAHA" was the most hilarious joke of all time and that just wasn't for me.
Here's another conversation:
BuzzFeed refers to this project as "poignant," but the only poignant thing about this conversation is that the woman that Hunt is feeding to Cleverbot seems to be trying hard to make a connection, which is the exact opposite of his thesis. She's trying to get to know him ("where did you move from?" is a valid question) and then ascertaining whether he's even interested due to his curt replies and the response are just kind of pointless and mean. How is this showcasing the loneliness of dating in the city? And does it strike anyone else as sexist? Hunt is here to teach people a lesson in an online space that's not meant for that. Dating is already so awful (we will have to agree to disagree, if you diagree) that making it even more difficult for people (and making people feel kinda shitty with the responses you've seen) and then posting the resulting conversations on Tumblr makes Hunt look more like a shallow douchebag than the women who allegedly want nothing more than just a date. Here's a good example:
She's just trying to help!!!
Hunt says that any negative reaction to his project will come from the fact that people are frustrated with the way that dating occurs in this day and age.
"Human connections aren't real anymore," Hunt said. "Maybe no one is happy with it. People will be uncomfortable with this possibly because we can't meet people the same way we did a long time ago."
Maybe, he's right, but it seems a bit defensive. People could also be uncomfortable with the fact that this project is just kind of pointless and somewhat mean-spirited. BuzzFeed points out that Hunt's project may appeal to those who find the idea of trusting their romantic lives to OkCupid's algorithms disempowering, but this also raises the question of how much people depend on the algorithms in the first place. How many people only respond to matches that OkCupid provides them? For me, I would look to see who was online and search for people in my area. My partner and I are a 75% match, but our relationship was never based on the questions he answered but our mutual love of video games and Target. And, as BuzzFeed points out, meeting people on the street is just as hard. It may feel more romantic and real, but it's also just a game of chance, the same way dating websites are.
Hunt isn't deterred, though. He told BuzzFeed that he's keeping his personal OkCupid profile open, but what he'd really like to do is meet someone on the street. So, I guess he's keeping his bases covered. Just like everyone else who dates in the "large urban centers" he's talking about.
Image via Shutterstock