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The Possible Future of Internet Dating Sucks for Now

November 7, 2013

Now, don’t misunderstand, loyal followers. I have not caved. I still have absolutely no intention of going on anything resembling a real date with a real person who might be interested in a real relationship or even being a real friend with benefits, because the benefits are actually detriments in my book.

But I finally saw The Social Network a couple weeks ago. And that might seem like a bit of a non sequitur, not to mention that I fully expect the sneers of, “Welcome to three years ago, Marty McFly!” It does relate, however, as earlier this week, I received an email from N. at Georgetown University, my graduate alma mater whose expired ID I so shamelessly used just today to purchase a student-discounted ski pass at a ski area I love but has no employee reciprocity with the ski area for which I work, inviting me to try out DateMySchool.com.

If you still don’t follow, don’t be too concerned. I have spent most of this week hopped up on caffeine because I have been frantically trying to secure my paperwork for my employing ski area, and I can kind of understand how Aaron Sorkin, Mark Zuckerberg, Georgetown, skiing, and dating sites seem at best tenuously connected through only a fevered imagination.

However, thanks to Sorkin’s depiction of Zuckerberg by way of a book by Ben Mezrich, I learned all the salacious details of my favorite social media giant’s founder’s dirty legal entanglements with the Winklevoss twins, who wanted him to use his butthurt coding skills shown off after a perfectly legit-seeming breakup on her part in order to make a dating site exclusive for Harvard students. Facebook happened instead.

Granted, using The Social Network as my primary reading material regarding Facebook’s beginnings is probably not a research method any of Harvard’s professors, or even any of my community college colleagues, would approve of. And I will be the first to confess that there’s probably more to the story, but I’m sure the actual legal documents are more boring than Sorkin’s sharp screenwriting. I mean, the dude won a frickin’ Academy Award, for crying out loud!

And in doing so (okay, just in putting the film out for public viewing), he acted as my muse. Because when I received that email from N.*, my fellow tweed-sporting, goatee-sporting Georgetownie, I could not help but wonder if this intriguing, apparently invite-only DateMySchool was what the Winklevii had in mind for Harvard.

*Am I the only one who kind of wishes we could go back to the way anonymized names used to be handled in the nineteenth century? There’s something so much classier, in my mind, about seeing secretified (that’s a word now) names written out as B— or B——e. It is, at least, better than the letter followed by a series of asterisks, as was the case with the invite from ol’ N. above (n***** was how it came out, which I think we can all agree is a pretty horrific way to follow up that particular initial). Elegance and simplicity: I might not live ’em, but I’d rather read ’em!

So, intrigued, I clicked on the link and began creating my profile to see if it was the source of elite snobbery the numerous mentions of Tier 1 schools on the signup page would lead me to believe. After all, as you once did with Facebook, you do need a valid .edu email address in order to create a profile, unlike some other group-exclusive sites that have no way of proving whether you put the Jew in JDate or the Christian in ChristianMingle or the homophobe in eHarmony

I wondered, of course, whether the exclusivity would give the site advantages over others with less of a focus on “educated people who don’t have time to date.” Besides filtering out the unwashed, illiterate commoners (I’m lookin’ at you, John D. Rockefeller!), what did DMS have to offer that, say, OKCupid, Match.com, or, hell, Craigslist personals didn’t?

Maybe it’s because I’m one of those equality-for-all, give-peace-a-chance hippie stoner types, but if there was any advantage, I didn’t see it. In fact, I’d suggest saving yourself the trouble of digging up your old college email address or contacting your school’s tech support about getting an alumni address unless you want to use that as a spam disposal for possible crap messages from the likes of OKC or any of the others.

At least OKC and some of the others don’t require you to pay a subscription fee to simply read your messages. In spite of having no picture (there’s only so far I’m willing to take this experiment!), I’ve received a few messages of which I can only read the first or four words. And since I’m only willing to go so far for this experiment, I’m unlikely to read any more.

I also don’t seem to recall OKC requiring you to put up a picture that clearly displays your face, as DMS does. Yes, of course, this seems but a nagging and frankly paranoid concern, but given the amazing strides we’ve made with facial recognition technology, it’s not too hard to imagine one of these highly educated individuals using a full facial picture to find, say, my YouTube videos, which do have my real name listed, and my real name’s uncommon enough that it wouldn’t take a dedicated hacker too much to find out such lovely details as my phone number and home address, if he (or she, even though my profile has me as straight, since “practically asexual” wasn’t an option).

I think, however, that in many ways, sites like DMS will one day be the most popular options for internet dating. As the proliferation of religion- and activity-based dating sites prove, not to mention the filters you can put on your would-be suitors through the catch-alls, finding love or lust on the Interwebz isn’t the last resort of someone who’s internalized the cliche, “Beggars can’t be choosers!” To the contrary. It seems as though online dating is as close as most can get to a customized relationship, an online catalog in which you get to do all but choose size, color, and shipping method.

I will bide my time until that day actually arrives. If only because I’m curious to see how UPS will deliver a man-sized box with a suspicious number of air holes in it to my third-floor apartment.

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One Comment
  1. Amber permalink

    You’re not the only who watches movies later than the general population. I’m usually anywhere from 4 to 20 years behind on movies. And I still haven’t watched “The Social Network”, even though I wanted to ever since it was released. But I just found out that the university library I work for has it available for checkout. So, guess what I’m doing next weekend?

    As for the customized dating. If you ever do get the matchmaking sites and UPS to make that special delivery, you must take pics and post them here. That’s an experiment I want to see, and not just in my imagination!

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