So you may recall a few days back I signed up for some free online dating service. I didn’t really know what to expect, but considering I wrote a rather extensive profile and other people seem to have an incredibly poor grasp of English I quickly realised that it was unlikely that I would find anyone I would be interested in talking to. That aside, I did receive an insight into one of the most bizarre and downright creepy webs services ever. Of course, I don’t know if all online dating services are like this one, but it borders on downright sinister.
First up, the “who’s viewed you” feature. Every time you view someone’s profile, or they view yours, the system records the date and time of the viewing. You are able to select an option to see who has viewed you at any given time. If you upgrade to the paid-for service, you can even get the exact date and time of the viewing (which seems utterly absurd to me but hey ho). So occasionally you will get a message from someone who has viewed your profile (The first one I received stated “omg you sound so weird!” – err… yeah, thanks, I guess). More often than not though, you will have a list of viewers who never say anything. Presumably they have read your profile (or in my case, I suspect, looked at my pictures) and decided “nah, that ain’t for me). Now of course this sort of thing happens in real life too I guess – people check each other out and decide on whether or not they are attracted to each other…. but they don’t get a notification whenever someone eyes them up. That’s just… odd.
The next creepy feature is almost an extension of the first. The “favourites” feature. You can add someone as a “favourite” on the site. I’m not sure what this means in real terms as I’ve deigned not to use the feature, but I have received two notifications that people have flagged me as a “favourite”. Note, however, that I have not received a message from either of these people. It’s almost as if I’ve been “flagged for stalking” or something. Like if you were in a cafe and saw someone you fancied, you might mark them out and follow them around, preferring to look at them over anyone else… but NEVER TALKING TO THEM. It’s just not right.
The third creepy feature is the “like to meet” option. You are presented with a series of photos (not descriptions, just photos), and you must click “yes”, “no” or “maybe” to say that you’d like to meet them. Now the idea I guess is to sort of gauge your personal preference so that the system can do some sort of matchmaking for you based on those choices. Here’s the kicker though: every time you click “yes”, that person gets an email saying “so and so would like to meet you!”. I have received two of these, and you guessed it, no message from them at all. Now, call me old fashioned, but if I like the look of someone and wouldn’t mind meeting them, I’m likely to send them a message saying “Wa gwan, fam, you in the ends tonight, innit, let’s hit up a coffee shop, ya gets meh?” (only in a more coherent fashion than South London gangslang) and see where that leads. I wouldn’t, for instance, post a photo of myself through their door saying “Karl would like to meet you!”
But here’s the most bizarrely sinister feature. There is an app you can download onto your phone. This app uses the GPS feature of your phone to locate members within a certain radius. I mean, does anyone else thing that it’s more than a little weird to have this sort of “singles detector” feature? I mean, what are you going to do, home in on them and then stand back looking at them from a distance without ever actually saying anything? Follow them home? It just seems wrong.
Those are the features I’ve encountered. But it would appear that the majority of the customer-base are neanderthals. I’ve lost count of the number of profiles which read: “lol omg I dont no what 2 rite!!!!111 xoxoxox YOLO,” or words to that effect. However, I have also encountered a number which say things like “Update: please do not send me pictures of your penis”. Now that’s a reasonable request, but I would go so far as to say that it shouldn’t really be a NECESSARY request. Perhaps I have too much faith in humanity (which is saying something, considering the misanthrope I am), but I would like to think that when asking ladies out, it would be standard practice to NOT attach a picture of your manhood. No matter how good you think it looks, it’s unlikely that a prospective partner is going to be too thrilled to witness it prior to a first date.
I am, however, learning to accept the fact that I’m probably going to die alone. And that, based on current experiences, this might not be an entirely bad thing.