Much to my mother’s dismay, I spent most of my summer online dating. With the genuine encouragement of my friend Thom, (see the Siri post) and the Schadenfreude-like prompting of Andrew, I have decided to post my discoveries.
Discovery #1: The Longer I was on it, The Angrier I Got
Blame it on the incessant nagging neon glare of the computer screen, or my lack of flirting skills, but something about internet dating made me batshit nuts. I mean, you can only answer the question, “And what do you do?” so many times before the dark hole in your soul starts to gobble up everything and you just want to write back, “NOTHING.”
I lost all sense of kindness and understanding for questions geared toward my disability. At the beginning of the summer, I remember writing blunt but helpful answers to “What is Cerebral Palsy?” or even “Can you feel your legs/body/vagina?” But this patience soon dwindled and I became a bitter hunchback, typing the words, “Fuck you, google it.” in reply to inquiries. If you met me on the street, you would never even know.
Discovery #2: It’s Bananas Because the Format is Backwards
I noticed two things that speak to this point, starting with the most obvious: the anonymity of a monitor. As any girl who’s tried online dating knows, people will type ANYTHING to grab your attention without immediate negative consequence. I once had a guy send me a graphic of an erect penis, made entirely from punctuation marks.
More to the point, I met for coffee with someone who was painfully quiet. And by painfully, I mean horrible, must-drink-latte-faster-so-i-can-go-home-and-watch-10-epis-of-Boardwalk-to-
forget-this-ever-happened painful. He really truly just sat across from me, drinking some pink frap and smirking the entire time, waiting for me to ask him questions he didn’t want to answer. When we finally parted ways, I got a text longer than any of the half-sentences he had managed to spout in person. It read, and I quote: “:) That was fun. The things I could do with you :P:D.” He speaks, (rather hornily, but still.) behind the safety of text.
Thing Two is the backward social expectations. I’ve had many a guy ask me sexual questions, and then get offended or annoyed when I say, “Woah, at least by me a drink first.” One dude asked me if/how I can have sex, and when I told him to slow down and at least meet me first, he said “But we haven’t even exchanged names.” Somehow, it’s inappropriate for me to ask to meet a guy, but OK to ask me personal sexual questions about myself? Oh POF, you spin my boundaries right-round.
Discovery #3: Everyone Becomes a Novelty.
POF in particular really is a sea of faces, mixed in there with the odd middle-finger or artsy half-faced headshots. This means that we immediately start looking for differences that set people apart. We view those distinctions as desirable in many cases, and difference becomes wanted. I’ll confess to clicking the odd picture while thinking, “Hmm, he’s cute for a ginger…” And there’s the novelty at work. Cute+Ginger=yeah right, really? (Sorry gingers. The woman who just sat down beside me is actually a beautiful ginge and I feel like a complete shitbag).
In this way people clicked their way into oblivion, and I got more and more questions revolving around being an attractive disabled. Same old, “Your really pretty for someone in your situation.” type messages. (I am always REALLY TEMPTED to write, “Thanks, your ignorance makes you repulsive.” But that’s just bitter wheelie-speak, and most of the time, these people actually mean to compliment me. So. C’est la vie.)
The most poignant conversation I ever had with a guy was one who really wanted to meet up, but kept saying strange little red-flag things like “I’ve never dated someone with CP but you’re hot so I guess I’m game.” WELL THANK GOD IM PRETTY THEN, SO I CAN DATE A WONDERFUL PERSON LIKE YOU.
Ohhh I’m almost late for class. Sorry bout the lack of proofreading.