Forget rom-coms. Today's swiping has swiped all the joy out of meeting a potential partner. Let's talk
Dear Reader: this is a bit of a rant about culture and our society, which I hope you will forgive me. I am deeply troubled by certain trends. For what it's worth I hope it inspires all of us to take some time to engage others, teach these skills and by all means bloody well MODEL them.
First, this is a slight side step out of my lanes, but not if you're human and want a bit of company in your life. So do I, but not so much dating any more. Since I've written about this plenty on other sites I am going to take this on because a recent article caused me real grief.
Jim Stutsman, always and forever a great supporter, signed me up for the newsletter Common Sense by Bari Weiss. I've been delighted by the quality and variety of the posts, which cover everything imaginable. They are thoughtful and well-written.
One post in particular struck me for several reasons: first, I've been on online dating sites for 24 years (not any more for reasons I don't need to explain) and have plenty of my own stories.
Second, I met a lovely African woman recently whose sexual preferences (she's bi-sexual) and some of her comments in this regard are relevant. Third, what the woman in this article speaks to further underscores some of the deep hurt and resentment that we are seeing (in men in particular), with significant consequences for us all.
Behind it all is profiteering from our loneliness, with social media, in my opinion, driving yet one more stake into the hearts of all of us as we struggle to find connections using media which does anything but. In this regard what it does is damage. Stay with me here.
Here's the article:
Those of you who still have Medium accounts may on occasion read Shani Silver. She was for a good long time quite funny. Lately she has sounded very angry, not without reason, as she attacks the business of being single in America. I don't blame her at all, although I prefer a more positive tone. Look, I've complained plenty myself, so that's less of a slam than an observation. She has good points. Many of them have to do with the online dating system which Ms. Weiss has described in her piece.
What troubles me most from her article:
In the early aughts—those were the days!—online dating was more quaint. There was an endless stack of baseball cards. Now all the good people are in the online version of the owner’s box. These are the Special Ones: the most desirable guys that you have to pay or apply to be able to talk to.
Some boutique apps are dedicated exclusively to Special Ones. For the famous, wannabees, and hotties, there’s Raya, which will set you back $7.99 a month. But mainstream apps, where anyone can join at any time, also allow the steerage to meet the upper caste for a fee: “Top Picks” through Tinder Plus ($9.99) or “Standouts” on Hinge. To gain access to a Hinge Standout, you’re required to pay to send them a “Rose”, which will set you back about $3.33 per digital stem.
Special Ones tend to have Ivy League degrees, vague job titles like “co-founder,” crisp clothes, and correctly placed tattoos. They have hair. A lot of it. The feeling you get looking at their profile is: “You’re welcome.” These men are the cream of the data crop, and they make up a tiny percentage of singles. Raya says their acceptance rate is 8%, making it easier to get into Columbia University, but harder than Cornell. (author bolded)
I find this uniquely offensive. If you read the entire piece you can see how the creation of a caste system in dating is backfiring and causing all kinds of angst and pain among anyone who doesn't look like a Chippendales stripper and who also owns a billion-dollar startup.
Then just consider how that must be on the other side of the scale: women who don't have the perfect figure, perfect skin, is an heiress and looks like Angela Jolie at 23.
Will you give me a BREAK.
Just imagine, as I do, how breathtakingly arrogant this is going to invite such people to feel. That is the whole damned point.
Social media and profiteering feed on our insecurities just as it also feeds on our overblown sense of entitlement. That makes for a nasty stew, which is what Weiss describes here.
Look. I dropped off Match.com a while back, utterly disgusted with what I found. For a goodly long time I participated. By most measures I might have qualified for the mid-level "caste" system being fairly well-educated, fairly attractive, somewhat accomplished if you're a fan of garbage collectors, at least a helluva body as long as you're cross-eyed. My photos were not photoshopped. My photos made me look like I had a Lara Croft kind of life, because I did and still do. Okay, without the inheritance but still. Okay without that face. Okay without the...all right you get it. Everything I put on line was verifiable and absolutely true. What a change of pace, right?
What that got me, frankly, was ridicule, attacks, accusations of fake news, on and on. I wrote extensively about it, too, most particularly about the rank dishonesty by men about their age, looks, hair, waistlines, body types and much, much MUCH more. Some 81% of us lie on online dating, which is likely an outdated statistic by now. It's not just men. It's nearly everyone.
But to pay more to either be considered Top Quality, and to pay more to even LOOK at such people? WILL YOU JUST PLEASE.
If someone feels the need to be considered such, that immediately disqualifies them. Humility is a primary requirement for humanity. If you need that kind of label, you don't qualify.
I am not the least surprised, given the predatory nature of social media and the genuinely evil people who operate behind the scenes in Silicon Valley to make the most of our collective deep insecurities for profit, that online dating has come to this.
But here's the real piece.
Sabatu (not her real name), the woman I met in Chiang Mai, is very very good at meeting partners. During the day we spent together I saw why. She's well-educated, attractive, all that. But what really does it for her is that she is curious and interested. Those two characteristics alone make her sexy as hell.
She doesn't need anything else. Curious and interested, she is able to strike up a conversation with anyone. Those are the marks of a damned engaging person, someone with social confidence. Those act as magnets for others, and those, in my humble opinion, are what make her deeply attractive.
Vacuous, not very bright, self-absorbed people who are gorgeous on the outside are about as engaging as used toilet paper.
I'm not going to do an all-on attack on the evils of social media. However as someone who has taught networking for decades, who is skilled in the art of conversation, it troubles me deeply that we are not teaching our kids how to relate.
While I have seen treatises from Millennials about how great social media is (we always make arguments and excuses for what we do and what we use, which makes us both blind and belligerent), the above article about online dating truly underscores for me where we are losing the fight.
We can't relate. We can't even date. This is another window into what does NOT work online, and how desperately we need to learn how to relax and relate to one another. Being online doesn't deliver that.
A friend of mine once spent a fortune on an outfit very much like It's Just Lunch. They ignored what she said she wanted. Put her with people she found boring, horrible and a waste of time. Then told her that if she wanted to see photos ahead of time that would be another big chunk of change in advance. Tells you something, doesn't it?
Don't get me started. Someone suggested It's Just Lunch to me. First, since I have always preferred much younger men, given that I was already in my late fifties at the time, it's highly unlikely that their clientele would have taken the bait. They wouldn't have even put me with someone I found engaging, for I like athletes. Our ageism would dictate that out of sight, out of mind, I'd have been dismissed out of hand.
Then, if they can't listen to the client after you hand over your initial fortune, then screw 'em. Second, most dating services decide FOR you what your relative value on the dating market is. Given my age, I can already tell you what mine would be.
I've aged out. So given that, should I wish to create company, I have to create company. Which comes to all of us naturally if we are open, soft, curious, engaging a good conversationalist. If we are well-read, well-traveled, even better.
Being engaged in life makes us interesting to others. It makes us curious about others because it makes us confident.
Those are human skills, life skills. Graciousness, confidence, genuine interest in others. Humility. Just saying.
They do NOT come from being umbilically-attached to a screen up to fourteen hours a day, which is now quite common. The only people who benefit from that kind of screen time are the people who created screen time and the apps and programs which suck our brains and attention out of our lives while life passes us by.
We're not teaching critical interactive skills to our kids. Too many are isolated, terrified, insecure and incapable of fundamental interactions, to say nothing of being able to make change in a simple transaction.
Hell. Lots of ADULTS are like that.
In a fake world of fake beauty, fake muscles, fake absolutely everything, nobody can compete. Nobody can win being authentic in online dating, yet that is precisely what we most crave.
No wonder people feel resentful. I would, too.
Even if there’s still a lid to every pot, the reality is that some are getting thrown into the discount bin, while others are being marked up and set on the highest shelf. And the discounted ones know who they are. “Everyone says ‘Oh, a woman wants a tall guy.’” says Jeff, who is five-foot-four. “But I can’t do anything about that. I can’t make myself taller. It is what it is.” (author bolded)
Just the languaging here makes me cringe. The discount bin? Highest shelf?
See what I mean?
I've long written that humans suffer from two huge addictions: the need to be right, and the need to be superior. This last teat is what Silicon Valley is inviting us to suck on now as we search for a partner.
This is just plain sick.
That said, I am going to pack up my backpack, take a speedboat out to Koh Larn Island off the coast of Thailand, and spend the next five days making new friends, writing new chapters in the book of my life.
I invite anyone else to do the same and GET THE HELL OFF LINE AND INTO LIFE.
You might just meet someone very interesting.
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