2. The Virus
On some level I was prepared for the assholes, because I know enough people who’ve dated online to know that good manners and 10th-grade spelling abilities are underrepresented in the world I’d so reluctantly just joined. What I was not prepared for were the copy-pasters, the virus transmitters, the people who apparently send identical messages (or gently mutated versions thereof) to the owner of every female profile they can find. I say “apparently” because I wouldn’t have known this was the case had I not signed up for OkCupid along with Jenna, and later my other friend Rylee, and watched with horror as our inboxes filled up with a not insubstantial number of the very same messages from the very same users. I might have noticed that there was something suspiciously hollow and generic about these messages, but I would have allowed my belief in the good of humanity to overrule the idea that anyone could be so gross as to think that blanket dating messages could work.
I am often wrong about the good of humanity. I realize that these young men probably don’t consider the fact that the women they’re messaging might have persuaded a few of their friends to suffer along with them, and that in doing so they will surely be comparing messages. I realize that some of them know this is the case and just don’t care. I’ll even concede that writing messages to prospective girlfriends/boyfriends can be an intimidating business, and that having an outline of a message that works well for one’s personal style is not the gravest sin to ever be committed. But I am not talking about outlines or brief boilerplate messages. I am talking about missives. I am talking about excruciatingly detailed compliments. I am talking about sickness—a viral kind of pathology that sneaks up on you, tells you you’re special, and then kills you.
Here are three perfect examples of the type of viral message I’m talking about, in increasing order of hysteria. They might look familiar. You’ve probably received them yourself.
a. “Hi howz you doin!!! Just came across your post and really its seems to be very honest and clear i would surely like to know u better Well I am looking for a nice to be friends with and then take it from there and i really wanna take care of her I am pretty well off and well educated...and i guess I know how to treat a woman . . . coz i am a gentleman awaiting your reply....”
We all got this message at least twice in our stays, of varying lengths, on OkCupid. This young man is overextending himself. He’s not just copy-pasting the same message to different people, he’s copy-pasting it to the SAME people, multiple times. He’s human spam.
b. “hi & how are you on this foggy minnesota night ? i must say that you seem like an intresting person from what i can tell from reading your profile and i would like to get to know you alittle better. i also must say that you have a stunning smile that would light up the darkest of nights & you look simply gorgeous in your pictures which i am sure do you no justice to how you look in person. i hope that you had a wonderful wednesday & hey i look forward to hearing back from a beautiful lady such as yourself !”
Perhaps not surprisingly, this message came from someone with whom I shared a higher enemy percentage than match percentage. Ditto Jenna, ditto Rylee. He was like our Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but the opposite.
c. “I’m just being real here, I know this is completely random and I know you have entirely no clue who I am, but I was looking through profiles and saw yours and I was blown away. Like BOOM!!!! Absolutely blown away. You are beautiful. Not just the good looking girl you see occasionally, I’m talking like the kind of beauty that you don’t EVER see. You know how a person addicted to drugs knows his drugs, he knows the “good shit” from the “not-so-good shit”? Well I know beauty. Its my drug. And you, are good shit! So I guess what I’m saying is...you are my drug . . . and I’m addicted. Haha. Your beauty is insane.
Like I said, I know this is random, but I had to let you know. I figured you probably hear it all the time, but hey, I couldn’t let someone as gorgeous as you get away without me at least telling her first. Anyway, congratulations on being so magnificent. *applauds* Sorry if it annoyed you. If you want though, you should look at my profile, I worked really hard on it, haha, but there is a lot of information on there, so only go read it if you enjoy reading or you could hate your life. I tend to ramble.”
When I first got this message, I had been on OkC for a few days and was already getting tired of the bullshit two-word messages and the negging and the total absence of shallow compliments I thought I’d be getting to at least compensate for the rest of the trash in my inbox. When this message came, and I was mildly flattered, it was only because my spirits were already broken. True, I still recognized it for the maniacal word vomit that it was, and true, I rolled my eyes so hard at “I know beauty. Its my drug” that my eyes fell out of my head and I had to pop them back in. But he called me “magnificent!” Such an underused compliment. I didn’t respond, but I’m ashamed to admit that I kept that message because I thought it was really about me.