I used to think of internet dating as a last-ditch attempt for overweight divorced mothers posting cleavage, “MySpace-angle” profile photos and sexually frustrated businessmen with receding hairlines to try and fill the gaping hole of their lonely mid-life crises. Sure, I had been single-ish for the past two years, but I wasn’t quite desperate enough to sell myself like a “massage therapist” on Craigslist. Well, here I am now, publicly announcing to the entire USF staff, student body, and whoever else picks up this issue of the Foghorn or reads this article online that I, Arts Editor Rieko Whitfield, have joined OKCupid.com.
When I ditched my high school boyfriend and moved to USF, I had an idealized image of what the fabulous single life of a college student in San Francisco would entail. I quickly came to the stark conclusion that a) USF is basically a nunnery, and b) All the beautiful boys are gay. I had only really gone out on a couple legitimate dates. Disillusioned, I mostly found myself getting into meaningless flings with only the San Diego to Bay Area transplants that I knew from high school.
I was done with that. Last month I ran into a fellow USF lady at a party, where she confidently announced to me that she was dating on OK Cupid. Paradigm. Shift. She got me thinking that maybe the stigma of online dating was beginning to become a thing of the past. After all, we are Generation Y – the first generation to grow up in the technology age.
A few weeks ago, I came up with the brilliant idea to join OK Cupid because I thought it would make a good feature for Scene. I wasn’t expecting anything to come out of it, and it was free. If anything, I was doing it for the sake of journalism. I uploaded a couple Facebook profile photos, and quickly whipped up a bio describing my love for oil painting, guitar, David Lynch, philosophy, and Jeff Buckley. I was then prompted to fill out a questionnaire of 100 or so questions regarding my ethical beliefs, lifestyle choices, and sexual preferences. Everything about the website was easy to use. The site is set up in the very similar social networking format of Facebook, except you can see who views your profile and compare compatibility percentages with any other OK Cupid member. All you do is fill out your information, and the Silicon Valley geeks at OK Cupid use mathematical algorithms to set you up with the rest. Done.
I was surprised that within a couple hours, I already had 20 or so messages in my inbox from other users. Sure, I was contacted by a couple guys that were solely on OK Cupid to find submissive girls to play out their graphic sadomasochistic desires (I mean, if you’re into that, that’s cool too). But most of the messages were from normal people like myself. I even found myself enjoying browsing through people’s profiles. Though I don’t mean to objectify men in any way, I felt like I was shopping for a plethora of boys on Ebay. I even found some boys that seemed too good-looking and too well rounded to be real people. Turns out, they actually exist.
Normally, my initial reaction when I see an attractive person is to shy away and avoid conversation at all costs. Even with my deeply rooted trust issues, crippling insecurities, and paranoia of rejection, I found it was a lot easier to contact strangers on OK Cupid because I knew nearly everyone else was on the site for the same reason – to find someone to date. I always wish that people, including myself, could be more upfront about their intentions. OK Cupid is a safe haven for doing just that.
A couple days later, I found myself alone on Valentine’s Day. I was stuck at work until 10, so I didn’t really mind just going home and sleeping through another uneventful holiday. Around 8:30 that night, however, a guy I had been chatting with on the site messaged me. We were both dateless for the night. I had about an hour to decide whether or not I was willing to go on a date with a complete stranger. My mind was plagued with racing thoughts: What if I’m super awkward and there’s nothing to talk about? What if he roofies me and turns out to be a serial killer straight out of Law and Order: SVU? What if I’m alone forever on every Valentine’s Day because I never took initiative on my love life? After some deliberation, it came down to asking myself, “Why the hell not?”
So on a leap of faith, I threw on my coat, hopped on the bus, and went on my first blind date.