Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Life Online: Growing Pains



I wish I had more to report but there's little news from the first month of my little online experiment. Clearly, life does not operate on rules of momentum and trajectory so it would be a logical fallacy to assume that since no potential soulmates have manifested in four weeks then, ergo, none ever will...right?

Moving along.

I've so far kept up on my one message per week minimum, although I have to say that this particular online dating site (which, you'll recall, I can not identify due to the specificity of its niche clientele ((hint: It's not FarmersOnly))) the messaging system is about as archaic as Juno.com.  Sidebar: I talked to a man today who has a Juno.com email account. Today. In 2013! I resisted the urge to ask if he accesses it via a dial-up connection while listening to his Creed's greatest hits album.

Where was I? Oh yes.

The messaging system on this site doesn't link messages into conversations. What I mean is that unlike every other reasonable email server in the world, you either have to memorize the message your responding to or abandon your draft part way to exit out, enter your inbox and review whatever juvenile questions have been thrown at you.

Speaking of which, the bulk of my correspondence has been with an individual who we will call Lynn (I would make the plug that I've changed her name, but who knows if it's her name anyway. She could be a 57-year-old Bangladeshi post-op transsexual for all I know). Lynn actually first messaged me in December during my free OkCupid days. At the time I did not respond, but that's not something to deter old Lynn.

So, when I popped up in [undisclosed NOT PlentyOfFish] land, Lynn was quick on the draw. And since I had committed to giving this experiment a fair shake I responded, which led to the following exchange.

Lynn: Hi Benjamin, How are you? What is your favorite place to go hiking?

Me: Hello. My favorite place is in Zion's, but I don't get down there nearly as much as I'd like. I haven't been living in SLC for long so I don't really know the trails around here, do you have any favorites?

Lynn: Zion's and southern Utah are great places to hike. I haven't actually been to Zion's since I was too young to do much hiking but I went to Arches and Canyonlands this summer and had a great time. Around salt lake I have quite enjoyed hikes up around Brighton. Where did you move from?

Me: New York, technically, but I'm from Northern Utah. I was just out there after I graduated from USU for an internship.

Lynn: Ah, that seems like it would be a fun place to live for a while. Did you enjoy it there? What was your favorite thing to do in Logan? I really enjoyed Utah State, and the yearly pumpkin walk.

Me: New York or Logan? Either way they were both fun places to live but I probably miss Logan the most. We would go camping just about every weekend in the summer and in the fall I could be out my door and on a biking trail in about 10 minutes. *Note: This is me trying. Sincerely.

Lynn: [Smile] *Note: This is one of the "flirts" I described in my last post, which in this case was literally a small, computer-generated image of a smile. Obviously I'm not a pro at this, but it strikes me as odd to send a "flirt" to someone you're already having a conversation with. It would be like winking at a person un-ironically mid-sentence while speaking to them face to face, only weirder since this comes in GIF form.


Lynn: I really loved Logan as well. It was especially fun in the summer. I spent a lot of time outside enjoying the weather and bonfires, or hiking or just at the park. What is your favorite thing to do in the winter? *Note: Just to make sure you're keeping track. This is the third time she's asked me "What is your favorite ____?" Don't worry, she's not finished.

Me: It used to be hockey but I don't really have much of a chance to play anymore. I'm much more of an autumn guy.

Lynn: Autumn is a much nicer time of year, though I think I might like spring even better. What is your favorite kind of snack? *Note: That's four! Also, you may have noticed that only one of my responses ended with a question – the first one.

Me: Ice cream. No contest.

Lynn: Ice cream is definitely excellent. What type of ice cream do you like best? Do you like it plain or with toppings?

At that point, I just couldn't take make myself continue. Besides the fact that I'm not even remotely attracted to the photographs this person self-selected to post, I'm perfectly capable of carrying on asinine conversations IRL.

Give me a discussion of baroque architecture, Objectivism, the social commentary imbedded in various zombie apocalypse interpretations or the superiority of East Coast vs. West Coast rap. Ask me about politics or religion. Regale me with the mysteries of science and philosophy. Weave me a tapestry of thoughts, desires and profound, shocking statements. We're talking online, after all, you don't have to pay per word.

Our brief exchange started off on a well-enough foot as a tête-à-tête about travel and the outdoors. We even struck on shared interests and experiences in common. But in the short space of four queries we had already disintegrated into my favorite snack and whether I take sprinkles on my vanilla/chocolate swirl.

So, my apologizes to you Lynn (if that IS your real name) but I'm afraid you'll never know how I take my cream.

I actually had a glimpse of an actual conversation from one of the women I messaged to fill my weekly quota. She was (or at least claimed to be) a student at Westminster and because of her posted travel photos we got into a conversation about Hadrian's Wall.

I'm fascinated by Hadrian's Wall, partly because I have a weird interest in Anglo-Saxon and Imperial Roman history and partly because it's like a Westernized and far-superior counterpart to The Great Wall (as in, Of China). Did you know The Great Wall is not actually one wall but, in fact,  several disconnected Great WallS (plural) of China? Lame, right?

Anyway, when I realized that she had visited the REAL Great Wall (please, stand up) I proceeded to nerd out in a manner similar to the paragraph you just got through reading. [Spoiler alert] I haven't heard from her since.

Maybe I should've asked her what her favorite snack is.

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