I wasn’t a cool pre-teen. No one was a cool pre-teen, but I embodied the notion of pre-cat-ladydom in a big way.
Sure, like my fellow seventh graders, I saw Titanic in theaters an absurd number of times, and I had horror movie sleepovers in spades. But a member of the it-crowd, I wasn’t. And I blame America Online.
An Austin transplant in my twelfth year, it was difficult to weasel my way into a seat at the cool kids table and (sad as it was) the computer dominated my down time. I can remember it now — the whir and chirp of our old school modem as I signed in; the “You’ve Got Mail” guy greeting me with the glimmering hope of online correspondence. The Internet sucked me in with its keywords, instant messages, chat rooms and overall glow of detached socialization. But as children do, I grew up. I lost the braces, found my niche and web time became more of a necessity than a choice.
Let me start by saying that online dating has always terrified me. As a concept, it reeks of the path of last resort; a veritable white flag of surrender against meeting someone the old-fashioned way.
Let me start by saying that online dating has always terrified me. As a concept, it reeks of the path of last resort; a veritable white flag of surrender against meeting someone the old-fashioned way. I realize that this of course is not the case; that many have formed serious relationships based on an online encounter, several of them resulting in marriage.
But because of my past as an Internet hermit, I avoided the prospect like the plague. Yet here I am, filling out profiles and surfing the meat market like my fellow-minded singletons.
It seems I wasn’t the only one fearful of taking the e-plunge. Once wholly owned by conglomerates like Match.com and Eharmony, the online dating market is bursting with new opportunities, mirroring the social acceptance that the standard conventions of meeting folks just ain’t cutting it. But of the plethora of online paths to a less-lonely life, which is the best? As I prep my profiles and ready myself for the online dating extravaganza, it seems important to at least weigh my options, from a cost-benefit perspective.
The vanilla ice cream of the Internet dating realm, this seems like the safest option right out of the gate. With a membership plan that’s cheapest in blocks (and paid up front, yeesh!), Match.com seems like one of the easiest ways to weed out those just browsing the web for a hookup. Though with qualifying criteria that range from favorite movie to accessory most likely to turn you on (I kid you not, both trucker hats and straw flip flops were options), it’s hard to know how well these matches will go.
The cost-free seedy underbelly of the dating world. The drunken younger sister of Match.com. Myspace’s horny doppleganger. OK Cupid is the site most twenty-somethings turn to when they need to cast their dating net outside of their social circle. However, with no monthly membership fee, there’s no weeding out the riff raff.
A new NYC-based startup that pairs people based on suggestions for a night out, like: “How about we… go see a movie,” “How about we… drink margaritas,” etc. Upon first login (my suggestion, if you must know, was “How about we… grab drinks on a patio"), I couldn’t help but notice that most, if not all, participants were at least 35 and above. Step it up, young guns, I’m not quite ready for a sugar daddy.
As a novice in the face of the dating world, testing the Internet waters seems like the best way to get back on the dating horse. So I’m saddling up, polishing my autobiographical adjectives, and hoping that the normal to weirdo response ratio tips ever so slightly in my favor.