Online dating has become a billion-dollar industry that according to a recent National Academy of Sciences study “may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself.”
According to the study, more than one-third of American marriages start online, and those couples might be happier than couples who did not meet online.
With online dating receiving such positive results, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and do something I never thought I would do: make an online dating profile.
Let me just say, creating a profile was horrifying. The sites ask you extremely personal questions about your opinions, personality and even body type, with some sites allowing you to block certain body types from coming up as a match.
Plus there is the added pressure of not sounding like a wet rag when asked how many concerts you have attended in the last year – and you realize the only one was a Beach Boys tribute concert you covered for an article.
Ignoring everything my parents told me about not talking to strangers on the Internet, I created profiles on three sites: Plenty of Fish, OkCupid and Tinder.
The first profile was actually the creation of the Campus Times staff and myself, which we did not take that too seriously. Suffice it to say “Assmanda” demonstrated the role screen names play in attracting a certain type of guy.
The fake OkCupid account received a lot of weird messages including one that simply contained “wats up,” while another informed me I would be lucky enough to take him out.
On Plenty of Fish I created a real account where I actually used my picture.
I received almost the same number of messages as OkCupid, but the quality of messages was dramatically improved, with guys claiming I seemed intelligent and down to earth.
There was also a dramatic difference in their profile pictures, with the guys messaging my fake account almost never wearing shirts in an attempt to show their two abs, while the guys who were interested in my real account appeared to have dressed-up.
Which brings me to another point: Why does almost every guy’s profile picture have him shirtless? Or worse, with his underwear showing?
When it comes to profile pictures, keep it classy – especially if you are the guy I saw with an enormous swastika on his chest. You definitely need to cover that up.
But what was worse was my friend, who made a profile too, received the exact same message as I, from the same guy, on different sites.
“Hi there, How are you doing? I read through your profile, and you seem really nice and fun!” he wrote. Little did he know we knew each other, but it only reinforced my conviction that some people might not be as trustworthy as others.
But Tinder was by far the worst. An app that connects people in an area, it allows users to decide if they are interested in someone based on looks alone.
You tap an “X” if you were not interested and a check mark if you thought they were cute. If you hit the check mark, the app informs that person you are interested in them; then they have the option to like you back or not.
The app does let you see if you have any common Facebook likes, but that is it in regards to “compatibility.” At least the other sites attempt to match you with people you have something in common with.
This story made me realize just how easy it is to hide behind a screen as it became increasingly harder not to mock their pictures, horrible grammar and “deep” hipster quotes.
Though I did gain self-confidence from the messages I received, and was even tempted to respond to a few of them, online dating is still dangerous. While profiles may make them seem like a nice, hot, 20-something who is into snowboarding, you don’t know. You do not know if they are who they say they are or if they have bad intentions.
I am in no way condemning online dating; I just want everyone to be careful. If you do meet someone, meet in them in an open area, never at home. We all have the rest of our lives ahead of us, so do not risk yours for someone you have never met before.
Amanda Larsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.