Judging a book by its cover

23 Dec

To someone with low self-esteem it might just seem sensible for all of about sixty seconds to scurry off into the quiet controlled light of an LCD display screen in order to pursue love, rather than run around every bar and coffee shop within the city centre in the hope of randomly bumping into the/a one. I’ve never been particularly good at noticing when somebody has taken a shine to me – frankly they could be grinding their crotch up and down my thigh and I’d probably just assume that they had an embarrassingly personal itch and only something as thick and hairy as my legs will put that right. The notion of picking someone up in a public place is laughable and so memorable was the sex education part of my secondary school career that I’d be too scared to catch some nasty venereal disease anyway if they so much as looked at me. And of course there’s the other problem – I don’t currently work in an office or among viable young(ish) people, so the chances of me actually meeting someone who’d like to do something that involved slight physical contact with me, are circling the slim to nothing area of things.

In real life, there isn't someone whispering in your ear how to read a situation. Sadly.  Photo from Play It Again Sam.

In real life, there isn’t someone whispering in your ear how to read a situation. Sadly.
Photo from Play It Again Sam.

I’ve dabbled with online dating before – in as much as setting up profiles for myself and then sitting dormant for months (and as it turns out, years). I’ve also set up test accounts on other sites to get a feel for these brands that I keep reading about but have little interest in myself. (There are certain dating sites that really are far too outwardly explicit for my comfort levels). But looking at the landscape now, I wonder what chance I realistically have. The online dating world is fuelled by apps that you can run from your mobile phone device, which bombard the user with photographs of potential lovelies and on request an approximate distance from your current location. And so begins the endless swiping  – potential yes to the right, the unlucky ones to the left. Basing our casual assessment almost entirely on an instant scophophilic gratification. I suppose in the real world we largely work like this too – you don’t try and make conversation with the people you don’t like the look of, only those that have attracted you in.

This has found its zenith in Tinder – an app which exploits your Facebook profile and photographs in a game of yes/no. Yup, there’s some information about mutual friends and shared interests, but basically it is based entirely on imagery.

After several weeks playing with the app out of curiosity I have come to the not-exactly earth-shattering conclusion that I am not in possession of the sort of face that will launch 100 ships. The one and only occasion a ‘match’ occurred I found myself knowingly talking rubbish to a bot that was more interested in getting me to pay real money to watch a webcam show. No thank you Mrs/Mr/It. I appreciate I haven’t got an olympian’s physique, and the present beard is one of those love it or hate it things, but you’d think after rating hundreds of profiles within a 30 mile radius, SOMEONE might actually register as a returned interest. A boy could get a complex…

Now of course, this isn’t like the other sites, it is perfectly possible for dozens of folk to be interested, but unless you have expressed a ‘they look nice’ back, then you never know. Supposedly (if you believe the press) tens of thousands of people use Tinder to arrange sex hook-ups on a daily basis – me, I can’t even get the time of day let alone entertain the notion of arranging a spontaneous bought of anonymous sex with a stranger. And yet I’m not actually appalled by this visual gratification approach – its a decent base to leap off from, though judging by some of the photos shared, a lot of folk are merely curious and haven’t actually thought about it as a dating app – just as another social networking facility.

Of course, there is even more opportunity for instant turn-off with Tinder, with a number of obvious gaffes in profiles. Images which haven’t be reframed, thus cutting off vital information (you know, like people’s faces) being the most prominent.

Online dating probably isn’t for me anyway. While I have met a couple of friends via these sites (proper in-person friendships, without the sexy time), I’m super-cautious about meeting up with strangers, and you can see me visibly quaking if someone actually expresses a clear interest. The couple of times I have found myself propositioned, I’ve wondered ‘what’s the story’…

I also find it slightly disturbing when I look at a profile and its full of photos of the profile’s lady owner alongside a bloke in the majority of the images – what’s the craic? Is this your ex? Is he still on the scene? Is this a preamble to a three-way? Or are you just saying, yup I like cock? Even more worrying when the couple in the photo are in their wedding gear. Okay, so your marriage isn’t working, but please, I don’t want to see the momentos!

There must also be an unwritten rule which insists that you must have a me-with-a-glass-of-wine photo in your profile? Okay, you like a drink, but seriously? Do I really have to see you drunk and falling over already? Why are you masking your face… what’s the catch?

And yes, if you have a photo in your profile of you with a cute kid – make it clear via a caption whether this is your offspring, a niece/nephew, or some random child you kidnapped when out scouting the play park.

If you do actually make it to the point of a sit down over a cup of coffee to sus out whether you’ve agreed to liaise with a psycho or not, then there’s a whole other debacle of not living up to expectations built up through your way with words via the internet. There’s no helpful guide whispering words in your ears, and chat up lines are something that belong in the movies and not in real life. And I can never get over the idea that an opinion is made the moment that our eyes lock in a room and what I say is utterly redundant, and my poor self-confidence means even if there is chemistry that I’ll overlook it. I understand that isn’t a normal reaction.

Of course its Christmas, so there’s an influx of new faces into the ‘nearby’ section on all these networks just now. I suppose in a couple of weeks we can expect stories of holiday flings from our friends and contacts, but I can guarantee come the new year the only holiday fling I’ll be relating is that of me and a big box of chocolates, it’ll be dreamy.


One Response to “Judging a book by its cover”


  1. Adventures In Dating: The Opening Gambit | The Sherlock Holmes English-speaking Vernacular - January 11, 2014

    […] we are safely into January I can confirm my predictions about the festive dating scenario, with my only festive fling being with a box of chocolates. And […]

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