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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pretenders Among Us?

by D.S. White

It was March of 2002. Single once more, I chanced upon an article in Ebony about two couples: one newly-wed and the other newly engaged. Nothing remarkable about that, I’m sure, except for the fact that the couples met online. "You can do that?" was my immediate question, followed by much deliberation (about ten seconds') and a mad dash for the computer in my home office. I logged on to one of the referenced sites and had a hallmark moment while perusing profiles of God’s greatest creation (mankind).

I set up a profile entering required statistics for myself: Christian (nondenominational), female, divorced, thirty-seven, 5’ 7”, 175 lbs, voluptuous, auburn tinted locks, athletic, some college, self-employed, 25K-50K. Type of Relationship: MARRIAGE. Next came my requirements for a perfect match: Christian (Baptist, Methodist, nondenominational), MALE, single, never married or divorced, thirty-five to thirty-nine, 5’ 10” +, 165-225 lbs, thin, athletic or muscular, high school diploma +, a JOB, salary unimportant, Type of Relationship--MARRIAGE. I uploaded my photo and I was off!

Running a search yielded a list of matches with a suitability rating of 50%-100% in descending order. Excited by the ease of the process, I waded through the list, chose profiles of prospects eliciting the most goose pimples, and made printouts (yes I did). Buoyed by all the targeted possibilities, I enthusiastically and politely responded to all emails, categorizing them as "yay," "nay," or "you must be kidding!" Woman of God or not, I was still keeping it real.

In the next few months I learned all about Instant Messengers and chat room speak. I also learned the wisdom of using *70 to block my number before calling any numbers listed. Most exciting of all, I met several prospects in person. Would that I could unequivocally state that everyone I met had nefarious intentions, needed kissing to become a prince, or was calorically challenged. I can't. In the midst of all the “pretenders” I met a few really gorgeous, straightforward, doing-the-right-thing men.

Nevertheless, there was no connection. There was always something that was not quite right. Maybe I was too impatient or picky. I knew that technology is not an exact science and made allowances for that, but even so, it seemed that the majority of candidates I met failed to match their profiles and/or photos. High five anyone?

If you spend any time in the online dating arena, it will remind you that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. What do I mean by that? Well, it seems that some of our brothers (and sisters) have become quite creative in their definition of "putting your best face forward."

We have tricks like overexposed shots in which the profile owner appears several shades lighter than reality, and the response to your comment upon meeting (in March, mind you) is, "Oh this? It's left over from my summer tan."

Next we have the pilfering of photos of professional but relatively unknown models. The photos are either copied from modeling websites or scanned from a magazine and uploaded to various profiles. Unless a poorly cut picture is scanned, you have no way of catching the deception until the meeting, if one materializes.

Last but not least, my personal favorite. After the third time running across the same photo on three different profiles, you realize that it's not triplets--it's piracy. The tip-off in this case is the irate response of the actual photo owner, lambasting and/or ridiculing the thieves from his page.

Why the misrepresentation? Are you wanted for questioning? In the witness protection program? Unless you’re a genius assuming an identity to right a wrong, why not choose to be the best you possible? If your photos are eight years old, warn somebody. If you have put on a few pounds, say so. Missing teeth, sparse hair, bitten nails, colored contacts, manual wheelchair, welfare bound, seven kids, live with your parents--just be you. There is no one like you!

Copyright (c) 2004, D.S. White

1 comment:

jayne d'Arcy said...

Dating is a hazard, but the internet certainly makes it even trickier. I am so glad that I met my husband before I was ever exposed to the internet. Even so, our story still gives some of our relatives the willies. I put an ad in a local paper. In fact, my boss (a real estate loan officer) helped me to write it. Three lines of text saying right off, I was nice and wanted a husband, and (OMG) I am overweight! The newspaper told me to take out the husband bit, that I'd get no letters. I said LEAVE IT. I wound up with 15 letters. I dated (met) four of the men. One fellow (Japanese) wanted (and this is a quote) an obedient, plump white American wife to cater to his needs. HAH!!!! No way. And then, I received hubby's letter and long story short, we met at Round Table and haven't parted for more than a week since then, 12 years ago.