Though I’ve been tempted to dip my toe into the world of online dating — a world I find quite fascinating — I’ve yet to do so, and doubt I ever will, mainly because I have an arguably irrational feeling of sketchiness about the whole thing. Though I’ve met and dated girls I’ve met through social media, the thought of setting up a profile on a dating site and cruising for dates makes me uncomfortable. It just feels too overtly judgmental and predatory, and that makes my stomach turn a little. Sure, I can judgmental and predatory at times, but I prefer to be so in stealth mode, even to myself. So forgive me guys, I’m just a little weird about some things, and this is one of them. (I also still prefer to read newspapers in their physical form — maybe I should just move to a condo in South Florida and spend my days playing cards with olds in nursing homes, or something.)
With that said, the story of the brief online dating romance between Gizmodo editor Alyssa Bereznak and Magic: The Gathering champion Jon Finkel is a cautionary tale, one that Bereznak describes with the following disclaimer…
This story sounds mean. It’s about a girl judging a boy because he’s a nerd (like so many of us!) that she met on OkCupid. But that’s the point: Judging people on shallow stuff is human nature, and the magic and absurdity of online dating is how immediately and directly it throws that into relief. One person’s Magic is another person’s fingernail biting, and no profile in the world is deep enough to account for that.
Personally, I’d describe it as the nail in the coffin of whatever slim chance there was that I’d ever date anyone though an online dating site. This is sort of heartbreaking.
Two weeks into my online dating experiment, OKCupid had broken me down. It was like the online equivalent to hanging out alone in a dark, date-rapey bar. Every time I signed on, I was hit by a barrage of creepy messages. “Dem gurl u so foine, iwud lik veru much for me nd u to be marry n procreate.” Or “your legs do look strong.” So when I saw an IM from a guy named Jon that said, “You should go out with me :)” I was relieved. He seemed normal. I gave him my name. “Google away,” I said. Then dinner was ready, and I signed off without remembering to do the same.
We met for a drink later that week. Jon was thin and tall, dressed in a hedge fund uniform with pale skin and pierced ears. We started talking about normal stuff—family, work, college. I told him my brother was a gamer. And then he casually mentioned that he played Magic: The Gathering when he was younger.
“Actually,” he paused. “I’m the world champion.”
I laughed. Oh that’s a funny joke! I thought. This guy is funny! But the earnest look on his face told me he wasn’t kidding.
So after the date Bereznak said she went home and Googled the sh*t out of Finkel. She then showed up at their second date armed with some questions.
At dinner I got straight down to it. Did he still play? “Yes.” Strike one. How often? “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” Strike two. Who did he hang out with? “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” Strike three.
Bereznak then went on to accuse Finkel of “infiltrating his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers.” Surely, geographic proximity and shared interests had absolutely nothing to do with those dates, right? Surely.
Thank you, Alyssa Bereznak, for reminding me exactly why I refuse to ever join an online dating site. You broke what I’d think would be the unwritten Golden Rule of online dating — dishing on your date publicly online (seriously, was there no way to tell this story and keep him anonymous?!). If there’s any justice in the world, this will somehow all come back to haunt her, just like I’m sure going on a date with Alyssa Bereznak is already haunting Jon Finkel, though he’s probably much better off having someone like her in his rearview mirror, though he’s being a good sport about it.
A cautionary tale it was. And one whose cautionary merits could have been communicated just as well by affording the other party anonymity. Just saying.
(Pic via Alyssa Bereznak’s Twitter)