Everyone. But that’s just me. Am I the only one? Nope. Let’s talk.
After recently ending- for the thirteenth time, no less- a connection with someone who has helped define my late-in-life love life, such as it is, I have been faced with whether or not I want to stick my reluctant piggy toes back into the online dating waters. Having done it for now twenty-three years, and no that’s not a typo, it would be an understatement to claim that I’m more than a little jaded. Yesterday I read two articles which spoke to why, and one of them pissed me off so badly that I muted the author. Let’s go there, but first, let’s set the stage.
First, one of my favorite Medium authors on topic of being single, Shani Silver, published this smart piece which goes straight to the heart not only of online dating but, to my mind, the American Business Model:
As a consumer of multiple apps, and having put my heart and soul out there for years on end and still being single this many years later, this piece underscored for me a few of the reasons why. I wrote Shani, and meant it, that this article pointed out to me how online dating fails us. More so, how in so very many ways, increasingly, American corporations (well, okay, ALL corporations in these industries) are designed to make money only if we fail. To wit: the weight loss business, the fitness business, the entire medical industry(euphemistically referred to as “health,” but it’s anything BUT, which kindly is the whole point), the wellness industrial complex, casinos, and of course dating. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This model has infected just about everything.
From her piece:
Dating apps are not designed for the (small percentage of) people that actually meet long-term partners there. I mean honestly when you put that many people together anywhere obviously some of them will fall in love by accident. I’m more concerned about the millions of us that never do, that are turning dating apps into billion dollar companies without ever having to promise its users that they will deliver the thing we’re paying for. Because dating apps aren’t actually selling relationships any more than casinos are selling big wins. In each scenario, we’re never paying for the outcome. We’re only ever paying to play, and if we’re going to participate in the game, we need to remember that the house always wins. If you’re comfortable with that, keep playing. If you’re not, please know that you don’t have to. (author bolded)
The house always wins.
I’d like to put that line in lights.
Increasingly, this is how America makes money: setting you and me up to fail and cashing in on our collective misery. For big pharma and medicine do not rake in profits if we’re healthy. Gyms do not rake in profits if we’re fit and happy. Weight loss businesses do not make money if we successfully keep it off.
In this regard, I am the bane of weight loss programs, fitness programs, the health industry. For I have kept 85 lbs off for 34 years, am ridiculously fit, and don’t need a shitload of pills to age vibrantly.
However, I’m still single. But to Shani’s point, I like being single, albeit I’d like a hug once in a while. I do NOT feel like a failure because I’m not married, which is a very important throughline in Shani’s writing. I agree with her wholeheartedly.
Then I read this by Medium writer Rebecca Cullen:
At first I thought it might be a humor piece. It’s not, albeit there were parts of it that I did find funny if for no other reason than dead animals so often show up on dating profiles, and said dead animal is holding up a fish to the camera.
Ms. Cullen argues, as is her perfect right, that it’s perfectly okay to lie about your age, because after all, it’s just reality for us women out there. In the comments she says, correctly, that “it’s quite common on dating sites.”
Yeah. Some 81% of people lie. And while I don’t argue Ms. Cullen’s right to her opinion on the matter, I was among those in the articles’ comments who rather strongly disagreed, both male and female.
It bloody well is NOT all right to lie.
And just because it’s “quite common” does not in any way, shape or form make it acceptable, which you can, as she says, laugh off over a glass of wine.
Ms. Cullen, who is close to twenty years my junior, has not spent as many years as I have on these apps. She also does not have my litany of experiences, which have left me disgusted with the outright and bald dishonesty, which my male friends have also reported.
First, please, this:
When it comes to trying to find love, if you and I are not confident enough to put the truth out there, then will you and I PLEASE do the work that it takes to GET confident. Of course it’s hard. That’s why it’s called work.
From the article:
If you sell knick-knacks one weekend a month to make some extra beer money, you are not an entrepreneur.
If you work as a waiter or waitress, you are not a designated food procurement specialist.
If you play poker for a living, you are not a risk assessment analyst.
If you bought a few stocks or got them from your grandma, you are not a stockbroker.
This habit of overstatement has bled over big time onto just about everything, because being online allows us to build a fake avatar. Research shows that some 85% of lie on our resumes, too, which isn’t just poor form. It’s bad business. It will bloody well get you fired just as fast as your stating that you are “athletic and toned” and showing up fifty pounds overweight will send me shimmying through the bathroom window. I have done it and NO I am not apologetic about it.
Shame on any of us for lying and expecting that to be perfectly all right.
Lying is not all right.
The ex keeps turning back up like a bad penny for one simple reason: he and I, to our respective credit, didn’t lie on our profiles. We might have other issues, but the Big Reveal on our first date at Outback Steakhouse in Golden Colorado back in 2008 was a breathtaking success. The sonofabitch looked exactly like his photos, as do I. That was a good start. We didn’t finish well, but our repeated experiences with other folks who DO lie keeps us returning to each other.
While this article is dated, it’s still likely accurate, but I would bet that the numbers of lies in every conversation have exploded since this research:
From this piece:
The study, published in the journal’s June issue, found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies.
The normalization of dishonesty is how we got where we are today. We lie to ourselves (all the time, all day. Can you say, BUT I’M NOT A RACIST?)
We lie to others because we lie to ourselves, and then we project OUR propensity for lying onto others.
And while I most certainly understand the so-called white lies which allow us to be slightly kinder to one another (my social media buddy JC points out that there is a huge difference between truth and cruelty), this kind of lying is just. Plain. Evil.
My best friend, Dave, a fireman, was, back in the early aughts, my first and only blind date in Durango, where I had just moved. We had a far-ranging conversation about skydiving, flying, scuba, safaris, all of it. He lied about having done all those things. About being a veteran. I didn’t. Not one single bit.
He later moved into my home as my roomie. One day he stumbled onto my log books. My pilot, skydiving and scuba log books. He was horrified. I’d told him the absolute truth. While he and I had a very funny conversation about that, had we been lovers, that would have been utterly and totally out of integrity for my part. And he would have been kicked out on his ass for it.
My online profile AND my resume AND my articles are peppered with stories that actually happened, facts that I can validate, and claims that aren’t claims at all but verifiable events.
Dave told me that he just assumed I was blowing smoke up his butt.
I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. That is so out of integrity that it takes my breath away.
But here’s the piece. He and his brother had done that very thing to women for years just to get laid. He’d normalized it in his life, and so he just assumed that I, too, was lying.
I get accused regularly of photo shopping my head and face onto a younger woman’s body when I post this photo:
I have more than forty thousand photos from my adventure travel. Somehow in every one that features me, THAT head is on THAT body. Funny thing about that.
For my part, this desperate compulsion to lie is part of how we got our current politicians, our current state of business, our current state of affairs around race, and our current state of affairs around relationships.
I could go on. You get it. We are a nation of liars, and we benefit the ones who are the best at it. And we act shocked when said liars are outed. Are we that naive? Yup.
From the Eureka article above:
His previous research has included a study that found the most popular students in school sometimes are the best liars.
Do I really need to point at any aspect of our current society to underscore this point? And are you and I REALLY going to state that we’re surprised when it turns out that some actor or some politician (can you say Trump Gaetz Cuomo blah blah blah) is a fucking LIAR? Do I really need to point to our breathtaking denial of embedded racism, the rewriting of history and pretty much ALL organized religion to underscore how evil fundamental dishonesty is?
We’ve normalized it. And we emulate it, because liars get away with it.
Is it all right to lie on your profile?
Sure, Sparky, you do that. You do that and you live with the cancer that eats you from the inside. You live with the abject fear of being found out. You live with the realization that you are NOT all that, and spend the rest of your life trying to uphold a straw man.
You do that. And call it a good life. You just do that.
I would rather be happily, gratefully single, living in my integrity, than forfeit my soul on the altar of dishonesty.
But that’s just me.
Happily, I am not alone, if the comments on Ms. Cullen’s article are any indication. There are plenty of folks who are just as appalled as I am.
In the movie The Accountant, Ben Affleck plays a savant with severe autism. He’s functional, but trained to kill. As the Treasury officer Ray King who hunts him states, “Somebody breaks his moral code,” after which there is hell to pay.
We as Americans don’t seem to have a moral code any more. We are largely dishonest as individuals and as a nation. It’s profitable, and after all, money is FAR more important than morals.
Just ask Joel Osteen. A fine liar, rich as shit, and swimming in it.
If folks are willing to swim in sewage to have money, to get laid, you do that. You just do that.