I jumped into the internet ball pit of online dating as a free, simple way of getting over my last girlfriend. It was great! It was convenient, quick, and distracting. And then I read a bad review about myself online.
My roommate IMed me a link to a girl—who we, by a strange twist of fate and internet tragedy, had last year both latched onto via OK Cupid—and her account of the experience on her blog.
Oh gentle Christ.
After gulping several times, I read it. The experience of reading about yourself online, especially under the guise of a pseudonym, was surreal enough, even on the personal blog of some girl you never talk to anymore.
But reading somewhat vivid descriptions of your personal online conversations, text exchanges, and digital courtship was something else. Especially given that I came out looking like a dick.
I was described as having gone "radio silent," accused of avoiding hanging out with her despite the fact that our "offices were less than a mile in walking distance." Ours was, she said, a "passionate cyber-meeting turned cyber-fueled fling that couldn't sustain itself. What was missing was the human part of it. When Stan [me] stopped talking to me out of nowhere, he later apologized over G-chat for his behavior." She concludes that "You really don't know what ultimately drives people to join dating sites and the kinds of people you're going to meet."
I had been turned into a cautionary tale. And, for the record, I never sexted her. At least I'm pretty sure I didn't.
This is a weird way to find out you've hurt someone. But why should it be surprising? OK Cupid (and the rest of the bunch) abstract the human element away from love and sex. And that's fine! Desirable at times, even. We're living in an abstracted age, where conversations are condensed and pictures are cropped and feelings often don't matter. The crevasse between someone's decent OK Cupid profile and caring about an actual human being is a wide one—and the simplicity of dating sites doesn't prepare you for the leap. Of the online dates I used to go on, their terminuses weren't some shouting match or personality clash. It was just apathy. Meeting people in real life is tough! That's why dating sites make money. We don't like tough. But these flings disintegrate as easily as they form, victims of their own convenience.
And they make it easier to hurt someone, because, truthfully, you never cared that much to begin with. When canceling a date is as easy as canceling an Amazon shipment, what are we to expect from each other? People come off as bitchy and rude and careless because the internet lets us be this way—because we demand it! Is this good? Is it even sustainable? I'm not sure. But I am pretty sure that I never sexted that girl. Really. I mean come on.