I ain't too proud to admit it. I'm lookin' for love on the internet. I'm also a frugal sumbitch, so I'm looking in free places. Free places like OKCupid. (Which, I adore by the way. Their blog feeds my head and my snarkometer.) In my experiences both as a user and a moderator I've run across a few items of interest. I thought I would pass them on to you, dear readers, some valuable information on the dos and don'ts.
First, since I'm not always a negative. Let's ask the scientists what DOES work when it comes to putting your best face forward. There's some interesting information in there. It doesn't work 100% of the time, but it's good knowledge to have.
Now, here's the personal experience talking. Some of this is going to be right outta my inbox. The rest is going to be a mix of stories from people I know personally, or something that was reported to the OKC moderators.
Lesson number one.
If you and the person you're trying to communicate with don't have a common language, instant messaging is probably not going to be the best way to converse.
Lesson number two. Sending a woman you've never met and only know what she's written in her profile a message saying you'll come over to her house and give her a massage and a fuck is creepy. Stop it. I've had it happen four times now. I haven't said yes yet, and I never will.
Lesson number three. Keep your mental illness to yourself. That's, at the earliest, second date material. Not 2 minutes into an IM conversation. At this point, I don't care that your last girlfriend tried to kill herself because you went to Taco Bell without her seven years ago, or that your dad beat you with a hairbrush. You scare me. No, you can't make a suit out of my skin. I'm still using it. Go take your meds.
Lesson number four. I don't care if you're man or woman, looking for gay, straight, or llama. If you have a bitter profile full of what you don't want, you're not going to make many people want to date you. My self esteem is pretty good, but if I read about how terrible the women are in this cow town, as you so delicately put it, part of me might just lump myself in with that. When in reality, I could be your dream girl. We've all been stomped on. It's part of natural selection being culled from the dating pool now and again. Move on. Give the next one a benefit of the doubt.
Lesson number five. Along with the angry profile, try not to look pissed off or constipated in your profile photo. This is just as important as your written essay(s). It's your first impression. Make it a favorable and accurate one. If your profile photo shows your tits, men are going to look. Period. No bitching about how men just see you as an object. You're the one that chose your picture. You don't like it? Find a friend with a camera and snap a new one. There's probably a Sears in your mall. Go get a portrait taken. Problem solved.
Lesson number six. Every site has an option to tell someone you're interested in them without your having to write a word. Plenty of Fish has the "so and so wants to meet you!" OKCupid has the wink (formerly woo). While there's nothing wrong with this as an icebreaker, you really need to have something in your profile to read if you want to use that as a conversation starter. I mean, without something to grab on to, how is a person supposed to respond? "Hey, glad you think I'm ... something. So, I have no idea what to talk about since you don't list anything in your interests. How about... Crop Circles, alien visitation, or harmless prank. Aaand, go!"
This is just a sampling of some of the things I see people doing that probably aren't helping their cause. I plan on turning this into a series. Might even invite a guest writer to give me some perspective on the male, gay, and bisexual angle. But, for now, this is first in a hopefully long series of Ephemilisms. Think about it.
(If you'd like to guest write, please let me know. I'm always looking for perspective. Ephemily at gmail. dot com.)