PAULthinksmusings by a feminist
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Online dating is full of lies. Some of the statements you read in dating profiles are outright falsehoods, others are half-truths spun to get more interest, and still more lies crop up when people think they’re being honest but are really lying to themselves.

Do you want to know where people are horribly honest? Their twitter accounts and sometimes their blogs. Especially if those online personas are created and maintained outside of a dating site. My one friend insists that you just can’t know everything about a person by what they tweet and I agree. But I’m just as insistent that you’ll learn more about them in 140 character posts than you would by reading their self-authored profiles or how they’ve answered public multiple-choice questions.

And if someone does you the favor of writing blog posts? That’s like being handed thesis papers entitled, “How I think about the world.” Sure, the posts might be about a restaurant or a movie, they might be about dating or moving from one apartment to the next, but unless the articles are written for consideration by a professional publication, they’re going to reveal as much about the author as the topic. Maybe more.

Twitter and Blogger sitting in a tree… or on a bench…

When you get emailed or instant messaged on a dating site, the whole point of the interaction is to try to get you to buy the product that the other person is selling. The product’s just themselves, but they hype it up and present it in as nice of an advertisement as they can manage. Um. Even then, sometimes it’s just not that nice.

But when you get @replied on twitter, most of the time people are just responding to something you said that’s triggered an honest reaction, be it enthusiastic or critical. And comments on blog posts might be the very best way to weed out trolls from real people. For the record, in my experience, a troll is a troll whether online or offline.

Now, I’m as shallow as the next guy (perhaps shallower than some) so I do want to date pretty women. But do you know how hard it is to get a pretty woman to respond to you as an average looking male on a dating site? It’s not easy. And if I do get a response from one, I immediately suspect it must be a guy scamming as a woman.

Or it’s a prostitute.

On the other hand, so long as I have an intelligent or funny thing to say on twitter or as a blog comment, I’m pretty sure I get a better than 50% response rate. From pretty AND articulate women! Who live near me! This is just amazing.

Plus, most people tweet or blog photos of themselves in addition to putting photos of themselves up as avatars! And if you to go to tweetups or other twitter-based get-togethers, you can see these people in real life! Without even having to ask for a date first! I’ll stop using exclamation points!

Now I’m not saying that getting dates is why you should use twitter or post blogs. There’s a great deal of good you can get out of both, wholly independent of looking for dates. And using these channels just for dating is…creepy. I’m just saying that there are some amazing and datable people out there. I, personally, find dating bloggers really enticing right now.

But it’s not as simple as just making a twitter profile and putting your turn-ons and turn-offs in the bio (don’t do this–ew). The way to get people to interact with you, both eligible singles and others, is to put something interesting of yourself out there. A friend described online dating in general as something like flirting out into the universe, but twitter is more like that than any other medium.

From twitter, I’ve made friends and found dates. I’ve gone to happy-hours and other get-togethers and made even more friends that way. Not only can I find locals because of the location field and what they tweet, I get a reassurance from the fact that people can see what we’re doing on twitter (and I can see what others are doing).

If there’s anything that’s unfortunate about the social interactions of twitter, it’s that I end up befriending wonderful people in NYC or Ohio or Colorado or the UK and then I CAN’T readily hang out with them in real life. Or date them. Because I avoid long-distance relationships like the IEDs they figuratively are.

Metaphorical long-distance relationship: avoid at all costs!

It’s also a double-edged sword to expose things about yourself that are interesting enough to attract others. The same tidbits you tweet or blog about that make you seem like fascinating company comprise some information that you might not want to share with someone by the first date. This isn’t really a problem for me as I tend to approach my social life with a sort of radical honesty, but it’s definitely frightening to others.

I don’t generally censor my ideas, but I do try to be careful enough with my words that anything that I put on the internet is something I’d say to people’s faces. I can say I dislike something without being a dick about it and that’s beneficial to everyone. I also try to make sure that anything I’m going to say about someone online is something I’ve already said to them. And finally, if someone doesn’t want me to tweet or blog about them, I respect their wishes. I suppose that could all be considered under the umbrella of not being a dick, but I like specificity.

I’ve dated and had casual encounters with women who’ve specifically told me either not to tweet about them or that they didn’t want to continue because I knew about their blogs or twitter accounts. I don’t blame them for their concerns. Just because I’m not a dick doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to the majority of people who are.

It’s a shame, because I’ve really liked some of the women I’ve met via twitter and blogs. More than in any other arena, lately! But it just can’t work if you can’t trust each other.

So, if you’re going to try to date someone who has an online presence, maybe mutually agree not to stalk each other. If you get to that Define-The-Relationship talk where you become monogamous girlfriend and boyfriend, then I figure there should be nothing you need to hide from each other at that point. But before? Respect the boundaries.

It’s a recent realization that if I want to date someone and I know about their online posts, I need to trade one for the other. Even if reading such things wouldn’t bother ME, it could certainly bother her. And so that’s what I’ll do. Besides, if she posts something she wants me to read, she can just send me the link.

Now, will I ever find anyone who’s on the same page as me, regarding social-media-based dating? Your guess is as good as mine. But you’ll probably find out right here on my blog.


Invisible couple. © Copyright william and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The title of this blog, in case you have no idea, is from a 1960s Kubrick movie.

About Paul Roth

A vegetarian, agnostic, lindy-hopping, dog-loving tv-watcher who likes to read his own words.
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