Dating In The Modern Age

28 Feb

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“You’re going to have to suck it up and do it at some point,” challenged the crackling voice on the other end of my telephone. “Might as well rip off the bandaid and get it over with.”

I’d been debriefing with an old friend, and while I’ve been keeping most of my activities off the radar these days, the loneliness in my voice betrayed me. My cohort suggested it might be time for me to try online dating. Despite my protests that I simply wasn’t ready, her insistence struck a nerve. An International Woman of Mystery would never back down from a challenge.

“Just put yourself out there,” she chided. “It doesn’t have to be serious. But if nothing else, it’ll be entertaining. Maybe you’ll make a friend. Get to know your surroundings a little better.”

She had a point. Maybe Jennifer isn’t ready to date, but maybe that’s where having an alias comes in handy. No one said Jenny G. can’t have a little fun. Jenny G. is an International Woman of Mystery. An International Woman of Mystery is ready for anything.

Alas, even as Jenny G. I know nothing about internet dating. Being in a relationship for so many years, keeps one quite out of the loop. It starts out simple enough. I select my age, gender and sexual orientation. Create a log in. OkCupid refers to this as the “Onboarding” process. Easy enough. But then it wants to know more.

I stare at my laptop, into the abyss that is the “About Me” box on OkCupid and contemplate my next move. It’s a loaded question for this situation. What do they want to know? How much intelligence am I willing to divulge here?

I decide to stick to the basics. Type: “International Woman of Mystery seeks Mystery Man.”

Next it wants to ask me a series of probing questions. The computer says this will help it calculate my best match. “Are you a morning person?” (Yes.) “Could you date someone who was really messy?” (No.) The questions become a bit more complicated. “Is some jealousy healthy in a relationship?” “Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?” I’d prefer to give more complex answers, but my interrogator is straightforward. The only options are yes and no. Fair enough. I breeze through ten initial questions with relative aplomb.

I’ve passed the first round of questioning and the next screen leads me to a sea of men. Pictures of men with beards. Men with dogs. Men with beards and dogs. A man on top of a mountain standing next to a yak. (Yes, really.) Another man is standing next to a very attractive female. The International Woman of Mystery is perplexed. Is that his sister? The computer instructs me to select three.

I am overwhelmed. I scroll through what feels like a neverending stream of basic data. Locations. Ages. Photos. Men with usernames like TacosRock. Grindhouse22 (is that supposed to be enticing?), Tatt-O-Matic and simplymatthew, stare back at me. Winking. Smiling. Looking wistfully off into their respective distances. Tipping their hats.

It’s like a Pinterest board, the way it just keeps going. I am definitely in uncharted territory. I’m just about to settle on three prospects with seemingly compatible usernames and friendly faces. World_Trvlr82, Looking4SheRa, GoFarther83 but then I spy a “Skip” button at the top of the page. Crisis averted.

Unfortunately the next page yields only more and more matches. This time the subjects are labeled not only with demographics but also a numerical screening system. The gentlemen are assigned a percentage for matching vs. “enemy” qualities.

I appreciate the efficiency but I’m a bit put off by how impersonal it all seems. I’m afraid to click on the profiles, although a prompt atop the screen assures me that I’m in something called “Incognito Mode.” I spot a guy who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Poison. My heart pounds and I slam the laptop shut out of instinct. I take a moment to compose myself and then open it again. I cannot back out now.

A filter mode allows me to sort matches by other factors. Attractiveness. Personality. Vices. It occurs to me that I too am being ranked, simply by being on the premises. I locate the rest of my own profile and attempt to fill in the blanks.

 

What I’m doing with my life:

I am becoming an International Woman of Mystery.

The six things I could never do without:

Trench coat. Laptop. Passport. Spy Gear. Google Translate. Ninja skills.

On a typical Friday night I am

Wherever adventure leads me.

You should message me if:

You are ready to take on the world at large.

 

Do I need to include a photo? Some quick intel gathering on the web informs me that I absolutely must upload a photo if I want anyone to take an interest in me. I scroll through a small file of stored photos on my laptop but none of them looks like me anymore. The International Woman of Mystery is going to have to take a selfie.

I step out on to my apartment balcony. Hair tossed back. A tasteful black blouse. I deftly manage to find an angle that includes the mountains as backdrop and snap away. I wear red lipstick and a defiant smirk. From behind my giant black sunglasses I stare wistfully off into the distance.

Ciao,
Jenny G.

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One Response to “Dating In The Modern Age”

  1. totallycaroline 02/29/2016 at 5:57 AM #

    Good luck lovely, hope you catch your man!

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