Saturday, January 26, 2013

On (Online) Dating

I've been thinking about dating a lot lately, partly because I think I may be seeing someone (more on my unwillingness to make that a definite later) and also because dating stories have been in the news/social media a lot lately.

We all know the Manti Te'o story, right? Let me just say that I have a difficult time believing Manti's version of the story. Manti wants us to believe that for at least 9 months and possibly since Nov 2009, he spoke to this girl on the phone every night and all this time it was a prank. Which girl has that much time in her life to talk to a guy every single night as the part of some elaborate hoax that someone else is orchestrating? Even in my 100% single days (as opposed to the 60% single I am right now?), I did not have that much time to waste.

This Manti story also comes along when "catfishing" is now a part of the daily lexicon. I haven't seen MTV's Catfish or the documentary on which it is based but I know the premise. Meet someone online. Fall in love. Find out it's not real. I don't know if these persons were having daily telephone conversations also or if everything was based online. Maybe one day I will watch to see if I can learn what the motive is behind catfishing. Are there catfishing clues that these victims are oblivious to? Are they choosing to ignore warning signs?

Have you ever dated someone you met online? I technically have. We met on a forum that I frequented in undergrad. Most of us were Jamaican students living in the US. It was a great forum and I met a couple lifelong friends and acquaintances. I don't know if it ever occurred to me that what I knew about this guy from the forums could have all been faked. I don't know if I ever thought too much about the dangers of meeting up with him that first night. I didn't meet up with him alone but I think all the persons in the large group of us that met up that night were strangers to me. The others had met each other at various times before. Is it something I'd do again? Technically, I am (see 60% single). I think that being a part of the forum changed the dynamic and didn't make it a typical online dating scenario. But still, we met online. Several persons who met in that forum went on to get married too. It wasn't a dating forum but many found their soul mates there.

Yesterday I saw an article about a woman suing for failing to warn her about the dangers of online dating. She broke it off with her date after four days but some months later, he brutally stabbed her. Should be held liable? Is it's job to warn us that the people we meet online could turn out to be psychos? Frankly, the people we meet offline could also turn out to be psychos so I am not sure what's responsibility is. I do know that there are several disclaimers in their ToS though.

Even when you meet with someone offline, you can never be too sure that the story they are telling is true. I know that there are several things that are easier to fake online but we have to be careful both on and offline. I feel extremely bad for this woman who was attacked by her deranged former date. I don't feel bad for Manti though. Maybe he spun the tale because of media attention. Maybe he is trying to hide something.

In any case, as I talk more and more to this guy online, I can't help but wonder what our first meeting will be like. Will we ever have that first meeting? We could lose interest before then. Will it be as effortless as it is online and on the phone? Or will it be awkward? Will I be too nervous? What will we learn about each other in that offline environment? Will it be a turn off?

We'll see, I guess. We'll see.

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