Ah, the Internet. Where the saying judge not lest ye be judged should be changed to judge away, for ye will never see sirrah in person. We all judge and are judged and leave the Internet world unscathed, unless you become part of a flame war.
Online dating sites are particularly fascinating, since people, with all their stunted self knowledge and literary skills, are required to describe themselves. Ever stumbled upon a friend of yours, and thought “is that what you think you are?” It is scientifically proven that we usually think better of ourselves than we are in reality. But what about those people who are completely off the mark? The uptight “laid back” person or the “spontaneous” planner? And how many of us, really, “like” to exercise, or claim to have a hobby we haven’t picked up since the ’00s?
The problem is not just our self knowledge, but also language: its limitations, connotations, how we use it and how much we think about what it means. People use “laid back” because they hear it a lot, because they’re not a complete tight ass, or if they are they don’t know it. But if at least half the population of heterosexual men on dating sites are laid back, does that word even hold meaning anymore?
I’m not saying that my profile is any better or more accurate. Heaven knows the other half of the Internet saying is ye will be judged but not know it so ye will save your fragile psyche. But as an English major and a lover of language I have SUCH a hard time getting past the words to see the person on the profile.
So judge away, ye hypocrite. Here is the latest list of common mistakes on online profiles.
1. Laid back / laid-back / chill / easy going
Much like the word hardworking on a resume, this phrase is so ubiquitous it no longer holds meaning. I have now begun to translate the word as “lazy” and “dumb” because it is usually their first few adjectives, now a knee jerk reaction to writing a profile.
What is a laid back person anyway? They go with the flow? They don’t make tough decisions? Do they not care enough about their situation to take a stance on something? I tend to go with the flow but I would not describe myself as laid back. Sure in social situations I sometimes take a backseat, but I have passions, dammit. I make choices.
Is this a resume? Even if it was, you’d still be failing because hardworking lost its meaning in the 70s. Have you ever thought about what that means? “I work hard” as in “I try hard.” That’s it? You’re not, like, good at your job or efficient or smart or innovative or personable? Just an “A for Effort” kind of deal?
My friend and I joke about people who use the adjective hardworking to describe themselves as if it’s a personality trait. Oh, God bless those hard workers–the worker bees, the work horses, the rule followers, the Hufflepuffs. There is a place for them in the world, and thank God they exist because I would never want their jobs. Lots of people are hardworking, but that’s kind of a base trait for other more notable traits. If a person was hardworking and efficient, there would be no reason to mention the first one; it’s implied. And absolutely no reason to mention it on a dating profile, unless you are trying to get across that you have a job, any job, though not an ambitious one. So thank you taking that job at the DMV, but I will pass on a person who lacks originality.
My first reaction to the mention of loyalty is”… And?”. Thank God this man is loyal, otherwise I would never expect a relationship that starts with dating and inevitably leads to monogamy as stated by years of heteronormative human mating habits. It’s like they want a gold star for it or something. Might as well add on a couple more super awesome personality traits such as “won’t beat your kids” and “am 38% less likely to murder you in your sleep.” 1000 points. Platinum Level. You win a girlfriend.
My second reaction is, wow, I am super lucky to never be cheated on. It must be my lack of experience that has not jaded me to the trickeries of mankind. It seems like most people I know have at least one cheat story. Imagine the naivete of me expecting loyalty, should we embark on a monogamous relationship together. Even worse, lack of personal experience has had me come to the conclusion that not all cheaters are manwhores or crazy bitches, that sometimes an affair is a symptom of a greater problem neither party wants to admit. I’m sure my day will come when I learn otherwise, but for now, it’s hard to accept the thinly veiled hostility in the word.
A few subcategories of this are “Poor Me” “Nice Guy Rant” and “Not Like That Last Bitch”. People say the weirdest things on profiles. I’ve read a few where they actually spell out how many times they’ve been cheated on. And the Nice Guy: holding over our head that you will give us basic respect is not the pinnacle of altruism. No gold star for you. Also, whenever I read “I want a girl who’s loyal or trustworthy” I always add mentally, “not like that last bitch I dated. She’s a whore.”
4. I have a job / car / mortgage / etc
Ah, the sad reality that this is somewhat needed. As much as I cringe at the implication that “a job” is enough to make a person desirable, I learned a while ago not to make allowances for guys who don’t have their shit together.
I like Mindy Lahiri’s example of Boys versus Men as shown by a conversation between two women (paraphrased).
“So, he’s going back to school for another Master’s? Doesn’t he have five already? How many more does he need?”
“Oh just one more, I think.”
Having standards and being superficial are not the same thing. And you know what? If you are superficial, and recognize you won’t date anyone under a certain tax bracket, then you own it and rock on with your bad self. At least you are being honest. No one should make you feel bad about who you are, least of all the gender most likely to put “no fatties” on their profile page.
But like, “a job?” That’s it? I mean, a job could be 20 hrs at Burger King. I mean, a paycheck’s a paycheck, but I’d also like to meet someone with passion, and hopefully enjoys what they do.
5. I’m 185 lbs / brown hair / brown eyes
I’ve actually seen this. I’m not sure if they are are at the DMV or on a dating site. Never mind the fact that this is a super strange way to start your profile, I also have no idea what to do with your weight. What does 185 lbs look like on man? What is that supposed to be? Skinny, fit, fat, buff? I mean, depending on your height and build, it could mean any of those things.
Women usually have preferred body types, but they have little to do with the exact number on the scale. I wish instead he would describe himself in squishiness. Things like:
“1-3 inch stomach squishiness, but muscly arms.”
“No squishiness, skinny AF, can probably wrap your arms around me twice.”
“Excellent amount of squishiness. I’m basically a giant meat pillow in bed.”
I don’t give weight much thought except to discern optimum cuddle-ability.
6. I like sports
Yes, we have established that you are a heterosexual male. That’s why you’re in my search results. The fact that you like sports is implied. What would be unusual (and for me, preferable) would be you NOT liking sports.
I don’t give a flying fuck about sports. Never have, never will. And that’s okay. I watch a lot of crappy wedding themed reality shows, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to mention it on my profile. Chances are, if you list watching sports as one of your main/only hobbies, then we will probably not have anything in common.
Last but not least,
7. Any kind of spelling or grammar mistake OMG WTF
In the age of smart phones that autocorrect and browsers that put little squigglies under words that are spelled wrong, how in the HELL are people getting away with spelling things wrong?? One man said he loves “intelictual” conversation. How do you get past “inteli” without some form of technology correcting you? And when did using capitals and periods become passe? This is not a text message, people.
I once made the rule to not talk to anyone unless they use proper grammar structure. I didn’t talk to anyone for two weeks. As much as I lecture myself about how this is an age where literary acumen is not a prized trait, and there are a lot of different types of intelligence out there, I just cannot get over it. I’m not asking for definitions of plural perfect possessive or whatever. “I am a man.” is more grammatically correct than most of the sentences I see.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve been holding this in for years. YEARS. YEEEEEAAAARRRSS. There’s probably more I can think of, but omg I’ve complained enough. The silver lining in all of this is that it doesn’t matter how many are not right for me, because I don’t need an overwhelming majority. I just need one.
I told my friend once that dating for me was hard because I was kind of a niche market. She laughed and said “everyone’s a niche market.” I suppose that’s true. So on with the search.