A guy I met through a dating app told me about this article on online dating, published in The Star. Apparently he thought it might have been written by me. Hey, thanks Mark (not atually his name), but I’m a way better writer than this Gabey Goh person.OK, she’s not a bad writer (although, who knows what her pre-sub-edited copy is like), but the piece was rather … colourless.
And it wasn’t really about online dating, it was about how she didn’t online date.
Ms Goh registered with OK Cupid and Tinder and, as far as I can tell, she didn’t do much more than roll her eyes at the responses she received.
So, I don’t know what the point of the article was. I’m not sure (as I don’t read The Starregularly) if this is Ms Goh’s column. If it is, then fine, she’s entitled to talk about her personal response to online dating, but if it’s a general article about the topic then there should be more to it than her own take on the whole exercise.
In my opinion, you can’t write effectively about online dating unless you actually go on a date (at least one) with someone you’ve met online. For example, imagine an article about sea cruises written by someone who’s never set foot on a ship, just looked at a bunch of travel brochures.
When I think about the scope of the article, I think it’s definitely a personal column. At least, I hope it is. That would explain how pointless and self-absorbed, how insubstantial and badly-researched, how narrow-minded and flippant it is.
I doubt The Star will ever publish anything weightier. The ‘journalists’ they employ wouldn’t have the guts to do what it takes to write something less frivolous. And I don’t even mean anything that might be at odds with their conscience or ethics. I mean, writing with honesty, revealing something of themselves.
Online dating isn’t a walk in the park. Like any kind of dating, it puts you in a vulnerable position and in order to write well about the experience, you need to show just how vulnerable you were when you engaged in the activity. So, it’s about exposing yourself twice over. Just to complicate matters, I believe there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to the practice. People look at you like they’re thinking, ‘Are you THAT desperate?’ or ‘Surely a nice girl like you doesn’t have to resort to such drastic measures’ … as if you’ve just strung yourself up naked in Taman Tun Dr Ismail wet market and started the bidding at RM2 an hour. So, yeah, it might not be easy to admit that you’re on Match.com or OK Cupid or Tinder, especially if you care what others think, and you might feel that the only way you’ll sign up and write about it is if you make it abundantly clear that you don’t expect to meet anyone for real, that you think it’s a joke, that you’re just experimenting.
Seriously though, what’s the big deal? If you’re comfortable about having 734 Facebook friends, 587 of whom you wouldn’t recognise if they walked up to you and spat, why should you think connecting with strangers online is unacceptable. And even if you’re the sort whose FB connections are restricted to close friends and family, why should online dating be any less legitimate and acceptable than any of the more conventional ways of meeting people. The world has changed. We spend a lot of time online so it’s natural that this aspect of our lives should also have an online dimension.
If you ask people though, what comes up is the safety aspect. Apparently, one is more in danger of being tricked and scammed by people one meets online. Now, I happened to meet the filthiest of bastards through an online dating site, but I still don’t think meeting potential dates online puts you in a more dangerous place than you’re ordinarily at. I mean, say you meet someone at work, or through a friend, at a party, or a reading group (yeah, right), you may think that face-to-face first point of contact is less risky than the cyber equivalent, but is it really? Meeting someone in the flesh doesn’t guarantee that he/she is the real deal. People can lie (and do) just as well in person as by text message and email, and these weirdos, whom you might meet on Adult Friend Finder, exist in the real world as much as on the Internet.
I concede that it’s probably easier for them to connect with you online than in the flesh, but it’s also easier for you to lose them the same way. Just hit ‘block’ and you need never receive another dick pic, or listen to sob stories about dead wives and frozen bank accounts.
Online dating is really whatever you want it to be. There are some who use it as a no-nonsense way of hooking up, but I know of men and women who’ve met their spouses online. Whatever else might be on offer between those two options is for you to (or not to) ask for, agree to, partake in.