You’re on an online dating/hookup site, and someone who is TOTALLY AWESOME says they don’t send photos. Do you:
— Girl on the Net (@girlonthenet)
As is usual for her posts, it got me thinking…
Now, I have used dating sites, and I have used hook-up sites and, I’ve tended to use a slightly different approach for both.
With the regular dating site (I only ever used match.com about 10 years ago), I was happy enough to have a picture of my face on my profile. With hook-up sites, such as adultfriendfinder and fabswingers, I wasn’t. Why the difference, given that (in part if nothing else) the hoped for end result would be the same and that I might, if I was lucky, get a shag out of it?
Partially it is perception; or at the very least, my perception of how both types of sites are perceived. Your “mainstream” dating site has a “respectability” that your hook-up site doesn’t have. While no one would probably bat an eyelid about me looking for “a relationship” via online dating, people might be more judgemental about me openly advertising the fact I was looking for sex via a hook-up site. And yet, in both instances, the result was the same. We would exchange messages, if we got along we would arrange to meet up, if that didn’t scare her off, the meet might become a “date” and, in some instances, the date resulted in sex. Granted, there was more of an expectation regarding sex via the hook-up route, but the possibility was still there regardless of the route the journey took. And why shouldn’t it be? People have sex with people they fancy; it’s entirely natural.
Now, I’ve debated anonymity/pseudonymity before, and my thoughts on the reasons behind it, so I’m not going to labour the point again here.
I absolutely respect people’s right to privacy. Everybody will have their own motivations and reservations about how much of themselves they reveal online. That’s absolutely fine. I have my own and I’d be a raging hypocunt not to respect that in others.
So why the obsession with profile pics? Partially, I suspect, it’s because at a very basic level, human attraction is visual; we fancy people that we find attractive, and how will we know if we are going to fancy them if we can’t see them?
The second reason is perhaps more subtle, but much more pervasive and is a sign and symptom of the times we live in. We live in an age where, increasingly, instant gratification is the norm. We have become less inclined to take things slowly and see where things take us. The insistence on a profile pic is, I think, symptomatic of this. We want to see what they person looks like so we can make a snap decision as to whether or not the person is “worthy of our pursuit”. Rather than taking time to get to find something out about the person, what their interests might be, what things they might have in common, we increasingly want to make a quick decision so we can move on to the next in the plethora of profiles we have arranged before us.
If you don’t think this is the case; one word: Tinder!
One of the biggest complaints I have always heard from women (and men to a lesser extent) who use contact sites is that no one ever bothers to read people’s profiles. All to often, the first contact is along the lines of “You look hot, what are you into?” To which the standard response (in thought if not in writing) is “If you’d fucking bothered to fucking read my fucking profile you’d fucking know what I’m fucking into you fucking moron!”
Why is this?
The internet and its endless possibilities have made us lazy. The modern “on demand” lifestyle has made us forget the value of waiting for things. Whether it be buying a new 50″ home cinema TV or finding a sex partner, we want to do it in as little time and with as few clicks as possible.
I’m not downing on the Internet; after all, it gives me a platform to spout shit like this, but I do think we have come to a point where we now consider sex, and to a lesser extent, relationships, as consumables. We apply the same “click and collect” mentality towards sex as we do the other luxuries in our lives.
Personally, I’ve always read profiles. I love to know as much about people as I can. I’m “all about the blurb”. So what if, when you meet, you don’t find them so irresistibly attractive that you want to immediately rip their clothes of and bang them on the table between courses? At least if you meet someone based on their opinions and views, you should get a decent conversation instead of prolonged awkward silences.
Who knows, if you show enough interest in the person sitting opposite you, you might even just get a shag out of it…