I have confession to make: I was a member of an online dating site for about 12 hours last summer. The reason I only lasted half a day wasn’t just the stigma attached to “having to meet someone online,” but also having my profile on a site that was accessed by far too many people I didn’t know (many of which who were freaks of nature) kind of freaked me out. That said, I’m not knocking it entirely– I got a couple of good dates with a friend-of-a-friend that I bumped into on the site — but the constant bombardment of sleazy messages from men (and a couple of women) who were solely looking for anonymous hook-ups just wasn’t my thing.
It’s been months since this whole thing happened, and after hearing one-too-many friends complain about not being able to find anybody, I wondered if the online dating scene was still acting as a far-too-easy place to find a stranger to have sex with.
So I decided to do a little social experiment. I started out making a pretty tame profile; I used a fake name, an old picture, and listed a few interests. I became the friendly girl-next-door type with a killer taste in movies– something I thought would be appealing, and after getting the nod from my real-life boyfriend, I had the profile of a well-rounded woman who would generally be labeled as a “good catch.”
So there it was, a profile of a wholesome, fun-loving, Kevin Smith fan named Hailey. And I waited. After about three hours, I had received about four messages – all of which were mostly uncreative, uninspired, and frankly – quite disappointing. Many of the people on this site were listed as looking for a serious relationship, but I wasn’t getting any bites, so I tried a new tactic.
I replaced my photo with two fairly risqué body shots of lingerie (face not included, anonymity FTW), changed my headline to “I’m Hailey and I like to party ;)” (Hot Rod reference, anyone?), and deleted everything from my profile that had any semblance of depth whatsoever. I was left with some skanky photos, and a small description of how I liked to “go with the flow.”
Within five minutes I had received messages from twelve different people. Within twenty minutes I hit close to thirty messages, as well as the constant annoying “ping” I was sent every time someone tried to strike up an instant chat.
Suddenly, pictures of my hot body and no mention of any substance made me desirable to a whole lot of people. The messages were equally as uncreative, but I found that men suddenly felt much more confident to strike up a conversation with someone who had little to no personality. I got everything from “let’s watch movies,” and “you seem like such a nice person,” to some guy asking me if I was a prostitute.
I’m not one to be of the sexist belief that men are animals who can’t control their sexual urges, but I can’t say I’m surprised at the outcome of my second (and certainly final) night on a “dating” site. While many people have found love on sites much like the one I immersed myself in tonight, I think those looking for a deep and meaningful connection should approach such sites cautiously.
As far as anonymous sex goes, the internet made it incredibly easy for me to find a slew of men (the site I used only allowed me to be “interested in” either “men” or “women,” not both) willing to go to bed with me if it’s what I really wanted. That said, finding random strangers on the internet to have sex with is both unwise and incredibly dangerous. I feel skeeved out even after having a completely fake identity.
Basically, what I’m getting at here is that yes, the internet is still full of sex-hungry people who are arguably attracted to women of little substance. Disappointing, I know. But if you’re looking for something long-term and lasting, I’d say you’ve got better odds finding your soul mate at the bar. Because if Hailey the Wonder Girl can’t find a serious match on the internet, I think we’re all sh*t out of luck.