Last week a friend dared me to join the online dating site OkCupid. Largely unexposed to the world of online dating, and despite knowing friends who use one of these sites, my initial response was still triggered by that world’s original, now somewhat dated (ha), stigma. Not wanting to be thought of as someone who turns down things he’s never tried, I didn’t say ‘no’ right away despite immediately thinking it. I knew, however, that it would take a world of convincing—nothing short of downright bribery—and perhaps some weird cosmic occurrence before I ever signed up for an online dating site.
My friend, however, quite skilled at the art of persuasion, went for the hard sell, as evidenced by the following excerpt of our online chat transcription:
Her (11:13pm): Would you feel weird about OkCupid?
Me (11:14pm): I’m not against it, but I’ve not once considered it.
Her (11:15pm): I thought about it recently.
Me: (11:16pm): I’ll keep the option on the backburner.
Her (11:16pm): Let’s do it together! And write about it.
Me (11:18pm): Okay, I’ll join if you join.
Obviously, my friend knew me well and played her hand accordingly.
Really though, other than co-running this website, I hardly spend much time on the internet aside from streaming episodes of The Daily Show and NBA highlights. I deleted my Facebook account in 2009 and to this day refuse converting to a smartphone. This isn’t a declaration of righteousness so much as it is an example of some part of me knowing what’s best kept away from the other part of me. For a closet attention-seeker, access and exposure to all those things would result in a tremendous amount of time wasted—time, of course, that I’ve instead used working on that other thing to get attention: writing.
Despite all the reluctance, hesitancy, and the five-minute defensive stance against the barrage of my friend’s severe manipulation, I signed up that night. And even for the purpose—ostensible or not, even I’m not entirely sure—of a writing experiment, I spent two hours that night in the same spot on the couch answering personality questions. Yes, I had work the next morning, and these days sleep is sacred, but I had surrendered—knowingly, consciously, and shamefully—to the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to stop for sometime. Meanwhile my dinner dishes remained dirty where they were and the components of my unrefrigerated hummus began to separate in its container on the kitchen counter.
But I was sucked into the bizarreness of OkCupid’s attempt to get to know me. Some questions are perplexing but nevertheless amusing to answer (‘What’s the gender distribution of the vocalists in your music collection?’), while others are just perplexing (‘Do you have a survival kit prepared just in case a disaster occurs and normal services are disrupted for an extended period of time?’). Some questions, I’m quite sure, have very little to do with dating at all (‘Are we ever going to have those flying cars they’ve been promising us?’). But by far, the worst questions are the poorly-phrased and, as a result, incredibly confusing ones, of which there is a shocking amount (‘Do you find racism not inappropriate? Yes or no.’) And so it is entirely possible that I’ll end up going on a date with a nonracist whom I think is racist, who thinks the same thing about me, which is why we’re a perfect match because OkCupid thinks two racists will really hit it off.
Speaking of, going on at least one date generated by this foray is also part of the dare. After all, I think this experiment, for me, is about openness at the risk of embarrassment or humiliation. I wouldn’t do it if I felt one of the rewards, however big or small, was some sort of token in character building. Whether there will be a part two to this article will depend on a lot of things, including my willingness to be open even to the things that seem at best socially contrived and at worst socially terrifying. But I’ll have you know, dear readers, that I’m doing it for your entertainment and for St. Valentine himself.