How, Exactly, Does an Online Dating Service Do That?
During my daily ramblings around the Internet, a particular banner ad caught my eye. It was for an online dating service (I’m not sure which one; it’s not like I actually clicked the link or anything. The desperate and/or mentally unstable fuckers I meet in real life are headaches enough for me, so I avoid online dating like the plague it so rightfully is). What caught my attention, though, was a line at the end of the advertisement: “those unfit to date will have their accounts deleted”. This was, I assume, meant to inspire confidence in potential users of the service: “unfit” mates are systematically removed from the site’s dating pool, thus increasing the chances of finding someone functional, date-able, and generally not totally fuck-off insane. Seems like a good idea … for about the first half of a nanosecond.
Besides the very “classic sci-fi” implications of humans being declared unfit to mate by a computer system (in the end the computer decides that none of us can mate, and the species dies out as a whole, right?), I have to wonder just what sort of screening process an online dating service could possibly put its clients through. It can’t possibly be very rigorous, since they’re a for-profit company trying to make money off as many love-starved suckers (of cock and otherwise) as possible. So they’d want to be approving at least 90% of those who sign up, screening out only the REALLY awful ones. But what would they consider “really awful”? Registered sex offenders? People who are certifiably insane? Those with STIs? But then again, who’s to say that rapists, sociopaths, and those with syphilitic sores on their crotches are undeserving of ‘true love’ (note here that I roll my eyes at the very concept of ‘true love’, but that’s really here nor there in this line of thinking). What about the things that people more commonly find on online dating services: people who have recently gone through a nasty breakup and are rebounding, people with serious attachment/abandonment/self esteem issues, or people who are using online dating as a means for unfaithfulness. Are these things that should be screened for? Does this dating service have a cadre of psychologists on staff, all of them looking to see if you’re really “over” your last relationship and are emotionally ready for another commitment? Do potential applicants need to prove, in some way, that they are single and happy with themselves? I’m going to say probably not, since truly emotionally balanced people aren’t likely the ones using online dating services in the first place.
What this really comes down to, though, is the idea of whether or not any person can ever be declared “ready to date” with any accuracy. Even within our own minds, this is something we lie about. We declare ourselves “over” old emotional scars that will later crop up in the middle of sex and leave us huddled against the wall, naked and crying, while our new partner asks in a baffled and wounded tone “what’s wrong? I didn’t realize that mentioning teddy bears during coitus would hurt you”. We decide that we “need” somebody to be in love with, when all we really need is validation of our own egos, or a momentary distraction from the horrors of real life, or even just a good, hard fucking. We justify endless amounts of abuse because we “know” the other person really loves us, or just because we’re afraid of being alone. We decide that we’re sane, even when we’re not, because we always see the world from our own tainted, limited perspective … and of course, there’s always the media-fueled pressure to couple up and make babies to continue the species and provide more capitalist drones. It’s rare to meet a person who will admit “I’m not ready to date right now”, and rarer still to find somebody who actually acts upon such convictions and avoids dating until they feel ready (rather than just avoiding it until somebody really fuckable comes along, and then throwing caution to the wind and just going for it).
“Fit to date”. I’m probably not, when you add up all the various emotional issues and psychoses I’ve managed to collect throughout my lifetime. I doubt I’d be screened out by a computer system, though. I’d be thrown in with all the other losers, desperate for the ego-validation provided by having someone more fucked up than yourself to take care of. Because isn’t that what we’re all really searching for? Not someone perfect, although we will tell ourselves so. Just someone who’s fucked up enough to make you feel good. Because if a dating service really catered only to those “fit to date”, the human species would be doomed within a generation or two.