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There's nothing quite like signing on to a dating website for the first time to make you feel like you've hit rock bottom. Expect to have thoughts like "Why can't I find sexy, non-crazy singles in dive bars and on street corners like everybody else?" and "I wonder if this is going to more effective than stalking that receptionist."
Just kidding; according to public opinion (at least public opinion as expressed by the dating websites themselves) something like 120% of all relationships now start online. Meaning, if you don't already have an online dating account, even if you're in a successful relationship, you automatically fail. And also, if you choose the wrong dating website, apparently you also fail. It kind of makes us wish we could just go back to the times when the girls just got pinned by the guys! Literally; the guys gave the girls a pin to wear and - never mind, we see we've lost you already.
Anyway, whether you think online dating is the best thing since sliced bread or you wouldn't date online to save your life, you've got to agree that there are a few funny things going on with these sites. Things like...
They Have Bad Business Models
Riddle us this: what kind of website considers itself a success if it can manage to lose its customers? What websites hope their darnedest that if they do the right thing, they'll never see you again? You guessed it - dating websites!
Seriously, the whole point of creating a profile on a dating website is to find a serious relationship so that you can get OFF of the dating website. Mind you, we imagine there are sites out there such as the ever-popular Craigslist that still champions the hookup, but most of the reputable ones swear they'll give you monogamy at all costs. After all, it's not good publicity to promise painful breakups on your site; women especially seem to care about finding true love that will last for more than a couple of hours.
In fact, if you end up back on the dating site either because you break up or you're just a tool who likes to mess around, the dating website will have failed at its core mission. That's right; the longer you stay on the site, and the more frequently you return (i.e., the more ad revenue you generate), the more the site proves that it sucks at giving you what you want. How's that for making a profit?
What You See Isn't What You Get
Targeted ads are so common these days that you probably don't even notice that Facebook wants to sell you army boots or that MySpace knows that you live in San Francisco (lucky you!) And even when you do notice, you probably don't pay much attention, except to laugh at the sometimes funny incongruities that conflicting interests provide (miniskirts and bowhunting, anyone?) So you might not have realized that the ads for dating sites tend to display the same 3 attractive and interesting members of your preferred dating pool over and over again.
We get it; these are advertisements, and they can't go changing them every day. But the point is, these aren't real people who are being offered up to make you pay attention and drool. They might have had actual profiles before their popularity got them snapped up, but they might as well be fake. These aren't the people you'll be dating when you sign up for PleaseGodINeedSomeoneImDesperate.com.
What you'll get in real life is a bunch of people you would never, ever be interested in trying to force you into dating them with the sheer volume of their spam, and a slightly smaller collection of attractive and/or interesting people who never return your pokes, winks, and come-hither eyelash battings. It's like high school all over again, just with an infinite number of chances for rejection.
They Set You Up For Disappointment
Imagine this: you enter your local fast food joint and you look at all the delicious pictures of food plastered over the registers. You salivate as you point a shaking finger at the picture of your choice, and then you end up with something that looks nothing like what was advertised in the picture.
Okay, okay, so this actually happens all the time. But what if you pointed at a picture of a taco, and what they actually gave you was a charcoal briquette? And they expected you to eat it up? That's how dating sites work; they build you up with aspirations and dreams that they then proceed to shatter. Everyone contacts the few hottest people on the site, forcing those people out of the dating pool and leaving only the unwanted masses behind.
They Encourage Lying
No other type of website encourages lying quite as much as dating sites do, and rarely are the consequences of said lying so drastic.
Sure, perhaps people are more evasive when they're dealing with the IRS. But most of the time, the IRS guys aren't going to come to your local coffee shop, sit across from you, and decimate you with a withering glare when they realize that when you wrote "recovering athlete" what you really meant was "unenthusiastic water buffalo with misguided dreams of former glory who watches way too much television."
They're Just as Effective at the Opposite of Their Stated Purpose
Does your local grocery store also serve as a waste management plant? We hope not. Do you buy coffins from your obstetrician? Please tell us the answer is no. Does your day-care center also serve as a criminal detention center? If so, you might want to switch.
What we're trying to say is, places of business usually specialize in a few things, and usually those things aren't complete opposites of each other. That's why it's funny (to us, at least) that dating websites are just as effective at destroying relationships as they are at creating them.
After all, with "so many hot, available singles in your area," how can you possibly resist checking, just to be sure you're with the right person? And how can that person, once he or she catches you, possibly resist kicking you to the curb and tossing your most prized possessions off the roof?
They've Managed to Make Technology Not Sexy
Let's face it, technology is almost always sexy. Anything on the cutting edge is something that we all want. New, technologically-advanced toys are usually well-designed, and well out of our price range, which makes us want them all the more.
So how have dating websites, after adding technology to sex, managed to come out so poorly in the game? They're not charging us millions of dollars for the privilege of using their snazzy new product; instead, they're giving us so many free weekends that pretty soon they'll be paying us to use their stuff. Somehow, they've taken two of the best things on the planet, and managed to come up with the equivalent of watching your grandparents Jazzercize in their underwear. Congrats, dating websites. We hope you're proud of yourselves.
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