I've been writing this column for seven years, and I'm still occasionally shocked by which columns piss people off. A few weeks back, I mildly chastised a guy who recently moved into the area, wasn't meeting a soul, and yet refused to try online dating. I thought his Luddite stance was silly and urged him to give it a go before writing it off.
This seemed like such a no-brainer—he wasn't meeting people at work, at bars, or doing anything else he liked to do—why not log on? Hardly what I would consider controversial advice. Yet I received a slew of snippy letters from outraged readers, telling me how wrong I was to suggest such a distasteful thing. Huh?
"Lived and Learned" wrote from Ohio listing all the crazies she'd met online: "He borrowed money, calling me in desperation, and I fell for it all," she says of one computer creep. Still another fibbed about his income, and her sister married a dude she'd met online, and he turned out to be a liar, too!
The fact is, jackasses are the one natural resource that this country has puh-lenty of. If we could figure out a way to fuel our cars with asshats and motherfuckers, we wouldn't be at war right now. I can tell you that cheaters, liars, gold diggers, and sociopaths can be found everywhere and anywhere. I've located philanderers in bars, had friends fix me up with abusive closet cases, and even had my ass kicked by a guy I went out with after we met in a park. I've also met creeps, lowlifes, and morons online. If you were to do a statis-tical analysis, you would see that meeting people anywhere is a crap shoot and involves dumb luck more than anything else. However, by meeting more people, you up the odds that one of them won't piss you off or steal your wallet.
Michele from Seattle—another longtime single who'd rather eat nails than take 10 minutes to write an online profile, suggested, "Our society is such a mess, there is no community. If we had more community forums, there would be more opportunities to meet a variety of people. (Who knows, maybe we'd even be able to band together enough to save the environment or get out of Iraq?)"
Why, yes, Michele, that's a very nice idea, but like you pointed out, the kind of utopia you yearn for doesn't actually exist. So until hell freezes over and we all morph into a bunch of hairy-armpitted, hemp-wearing hippies, where does that leave you?
I'll tell you where—home alone with your vibrator and a Lean Cuisine.
Hearing this kind of nonsense (and there was more, believe me!) made me all the happier to pick up Virginia Vitzthum's entertaining and totally-on-the-money treatise on online dating, I Love You, Let's Meet (Little Brown).
Make no mistake, Vitzthum's picture of computer dating wasn't all roses and heart-shaped chocolates. "I had, I would say, six years of B-plus dates," she explained in a recent phone interview. "Often, I was like, 'Wow, you're cuter than your picture.'" She described most of the men she met as smart and creative, but still, Vitzthum hasn't found her match(.com). Though asking people why they're still single is the most obnoxious, retarded question one could ever pose, in the name of research I went ahead and went there, asking Vitzthum why she thought this was. "I place a little bit of blame on online dating itself. Because there are so many pretty good people out there, we think that while this is pretty good, maybe I could do better."
Vitzthum's statement encapsulates all that is wrong with online dating—people get too nitpicky. In her book, she relays a laundry list of don't-go-theres, yet admits, "People I know and like in real life have probably committed all my 'deal-breakers' at some point, but this system normalizes discrimination."
Despite taking a well-deserved dater break after writing and researching (phew!) the book, Vitzthum remains optimistic. "I can't write off a technology that's brought so many people love and me my 65 chances with mostly good guys," she writes. "It's an amazing technology, and it works for many, many people."
Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.