August 3, 2010 by Kat Richter
I’m three days into my latest ethnographic experiment: three months on match.com. So far, I’ve received 24 “winks,” 19 emails and one invitation to go salsa dancing tomorrow night. It would seem that I’m fairly successful in the world of photographs and witty repartee (even if I didn’t know, until just now, how to actually spell “repartee”) but that hasn’t stopped me from attempting to make eyes at the man who’s just entered the coffee shop whilst I sit here with my laptop. In my defense, however, an anthropologist is no better than her ability to observe cultural phenomena, both online and off.
Speaking of observation, I suppose I should say a few words about online dating but first, a brief disclaimer: no men will be harmed in the making of this blog. From here on out, names and defining characteristics will be changed in order to protect the innocent. I will be writing about the trials and tribulations of online dating, with a dose of first-date angst and a side helping of Philadelphia hot spots, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone in the process.
So… Match.com is like Facebook on steroids except unlike Facebook, everyone is single and ready to mingle (or so they claim). You create a screen name, post your profile, upload a few photos and off you go. To help you navigate the world of cyber chemistry, Match provides a curious array of tutorials (including “How to write a great email” which I wish some of my would-be suitors would have actually read before crafting such gems as, “hey im greg wazzup?”).
Every 24 hours, the powers that be (shall we call them the Yentas?) generate a customized “Daily 5” based on your preferences (which range from the standard “Smoking or non?” to religion, pets and—where would online dating be without it? — astrology). Being the diligent little researcher that I am, I’ve been checking out my “Daily 5” for the past few weeks (you can view profiles, “wink” at people and rate your Daily 5 for free before you actually purchase the subscription) with varying degrees of success.
When proposing a match, the Yentas preface your Daily 5 with messages like, “Meet so-and-so: he shares the same birth month!”
It was one such prompt that greeted me this morning, along with “Like you, he’s a non-smoker,” and finally, “You both enjoy nightclubs and dancing.”
A non-smoking, summer baby who likes to dance? Well Christ, where do I sign?
Oh wait. He wants a girl who’s between 5’1” and 5’7.” I wonder if that’s before or after heels. As I scroll through his profile, I realize it doesn’t really matter. He’s only 21.
I click “No” to view my next match.
“Meet Prospect Number 2,” the Yentas tell me. “You both dig dining out. Like you, he’s a dog lover. You both enjoy a drink or two in social settings.” Hmmm. So far, so good. Then we get to his profile: “im a homebody and i wanna date a girl with the same interest.” Since when did being a homebody become an interest?
Prospect Number 3 has a bit more going for him in the interests department. He likes tailgating and the Phillies. Under “hobbies” he also lists the Flyers, the 76ers and the Eagles—a true renaissance man. His photo gallery contains several pictures of his dog. And several pictures of a man I’m hoping is his father because seriously… no thank you. Next?
Prospect Number 4 seems a bit more promising. He likes the outdoors, enjoys art museums and knows exactly what he’s looking for in a woman. “She must have four hobbies that she is passionate about,” he writes. Exactly four? What if she only has three, or five (or approximately six billion in my case)? As I read the rest of his profile, I start to wonder if tailgating for the Phillies, the Flyers, the Sixers and the Eagles count as four separate hobbies or just one, but then I get to the part where he writes, “My friends tell me I’m just like the vampire from Twilight and I couldn’t agree more.” Wow. Really? A pasty, bloodsucking, teenage heartthrob? No thanks.
My final match for the day, according to the Yentas, is “athletic and toned, just like you!” When prompted to comment on his latest read, he writes, “I don’t read. I go out and make my own stories.” Nicely played, Number 5, nicely played.
So it would appear that I’ve struck out on my Daily 5 for today. But that’s okay because I’m going salsa dancing tomorrow night with a man who has more than four interests (and no, tailgating isn’t one of them).