The following post is a community service announcement.
I love you all, my dear readers. Three times a week for the last eight weeks or so, you have loyally checked in and read each of my posts, and have in turn validated my choice to pour everything I have into them. Your loyalty means the world to me, which is why I am willing to risk the wrath of the powers that be behind dating sites such as Oasis, RSVP and Zoosk in order to warn you not to make the same mistake I and, judging by Google search, plenty of others, have made. Regardless of the mission statements made in their ads, dating sites were not designed to find you love. They were created to line the pockets of the self-serving bastards behind the scenes. A few posts ago, I told you I had killed off my online alter-ego, and now I am advising you to do the same. I am not the least bit afraid of the consequences I may have to face by mentioning actual company names here; in fact, I'd actually get a rather perverse kick out of watching their C.E.Os try to sue an unemployed single mother. Form an orderly cue with the other debtors, guys.
I have read countless horror stories online about women and men who have had all manner of dreadful experiences with online dating, ranging from the bizarre to the fatal. What you must first realise is that anyone can create a dating site. One particular site was created by a man whose credentials consist of a diploma in computer systems technology; hardly the background one would expect from a man whose vocation is to help decide people's romantic fates. His site, as with the ones I mentioned above, generates the majority of its revenue through advertising, and is estimated to have earned him over ten million dollars thus far. But wait, I hear you protest, what's wrong with making money? Absolutely nothing! I have no moral objection whatsoever to people who can live comfortably while following their passions. You Tubers, for example, can make a very tidy living, netting thousands of dollars a year from sponsorship deals and banner advertisements. Why do I not have a problem with this? One word: motivation. I don't think any of the film makers on YouTube suddenly went down to their local electronics store one day and bought a camera with dreams of early retirement dancing in their heads. What shows in the final product is that they do what they do because they love it, and I along with thousands of other fans happily come along for the ride. Call me cynical, but I struggle to imagine that the aforementioned computer genius embarked upon his little business venture with altruistic dreams of mending broken hearts the world over.
It isn't only the site creators/administrators whose motives I am calling into question. How many of you have spent hours chatting to people you've met on dating sites, nodding approvingly as they say everything you want to hear and more, only to meet them and realise that they were feeding you lines from your own profile; using it as an auto-cue to put in an award winning performance, with you as the trophy. Sometimes, these bottom feeders don't even care enough to carry the play through to the final act; the ultimate catalyst for writing this post was a recent phone call I received from a guy I had chatted to over a month ago and made tentative plans to have dinner with. My creep radar started blipping during one of the previous weeks conversations, when he casually mentioned (several times) that he regularly stayed in a hotel. Anxious to get him off the phone, I made my excuses and hung up. The following week, he called again, asking when we were going out on our 'hot date' (Blip; Blip; Blip). I informed him, falsely admittedly, that I was emotionally unwell and could not possibly think about dating anyone at the present time. I breathed a sigh of relief when the call came to its inevitable end, confident that that would be the last I would hear of him. Undeterred, our horny little hero called again yesterday afternoon, suggesting that he may be able to alleviate some of my suffering with massage - I kid you not. I told him my therapist advised me to stay away from dating for a while. He countered with 'Oh, you shouldn't listen to therapists.' Finally gathering up the courage to tell it like it was, I told him that I was under no circumstances interested in dating him. 'Oh,' he said, 'Well how about just sex then?' Any shred of diplomacy I was still hanging on to went the way of disco and I hung up on him. Sadly, this is not the first encounter I've had with men who think women on dating sites are volunteer sex workers. I can look back on it and laugh, but I wonder how many lonely, more vulnerable people have actually been conned by this sort of sexual profiling. Hear me and hear me well: no amount of loneliness should be enough to convince you to settle for less, especially from yourself. Internet millionaires and their Lothario clients do not have your best interests in mind. Matchmaking services rob you of your money, your dignity and your time. The only person who truly knows what you want and need in your heart of hearts is you, so how about you erase that profile, turn off your laptop, and start listening to yourself. You might just learn something.