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Social experiment shows superficial views of online dating

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014 02:01

 

For those already skeptical about trying online dating, comedian columnist Alli Reed has provided yet another reason to hesitate with the shocking results of her recent OkCupid social experiment. 

It’s important to lend the most creative parts of one’s self in dating profiles, as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” taught, but Reed went above and beyond with her entries for a fake woman, which more than bordered racism,
selfishness and overall malicious behavior. Though fictional, Reed’s profile found the key to receiving hits, even while presenting morbid characteristics: a “gorgeous” photo.

In using her fashion model friend’s photos to complete the profile, Reed received 150 messages by the next day. It may be more calming to conclude that many pursuing Reed’s character simply ignored her profile information and solely based judgment on her photo. 

Worse still is knowing that these men remained ever-persistent despite Reed going out of her way to assure them that the woman she was pretending to be is someone
they would regret meeting in the first place. These men lack any boundaries for what they see in a person if they find her attractive. 

The extreme superficiality Reed witnessed is not only exhaustive to understand, but also telling of how women’s personalities are deliberately overlooked, especially online. Men continued trying to meet Reed’s character even after she made it unmistakably clear that she intends to physically tear their teeth out, among other horrendously strange statements.

While aware of the dangers of this in face-to-face situations, the face-to-face experience simply does not translate when meeting others online. Instead, the computer’s mouse can conveniently act as our social fairy and can click only on a person’s photos if desired. 

Online profiles, an already abbreviated version of who we are as people, only has to be seen at a glance — something that is no doubt too long for some.

Though everyone is subject to insults of shallow behavior, parts of Reed’s profile almost advocated it. One cannot sigh and deny that this is also a gendered issue. 

If the slew of advice catered to women to teach them how to get the most out of online dating isn’t enough, one of the primary rules for women is to have a quality profile picture — arguing its importance by comparing online dating to shoe shopping. So, instead of providing any attention to women’s personalities, whether they are good-natured or not, some prefer to simply refer to women as commodities. 

While all of this is entirely unacceptable and deserves dispute, it is nothing new. What has changed is the attempt to shrink women with online communication’s ease. It is obviously not fair to blame women for using online dating sites or the existence of the sites themselves. However, the superficial behaviors exhibited during Reed’s online experiment are deeply rooted in everyday, face-to-face behaviors that are far from being tackled.

 

Isabelle Cavazos is a sophomore majoring in English.

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