About a year or so ago (don’t come to me for current affairs babe, I’ve told you before, I’m too self-involved, there was a viral marketing campaign for International Internet Week called ‘Can you draw the Internet?’ (which was the brain-child of one of my more successful friends). Although I didn’t officially offer an entry I did take part in my own way- by scribbling a couple of doodles on the back of a used envelope during one of the more boring meetings I had to attend for ‘work’. My conception of the internet, sketched in red biro, looked something like this: a frenzy of human hands typing at a qwerty keyboard; fireworks of fact sparking through fingers; gormless, open-mouthed information-seekers, with foreheads pressed to the screens of their computers, absorbing and releasing fizzing knowledge molecules; a mirror reflecting infinite images of boobies; square-eyed men tugging at their penises.
The reality, of course, is that the internet is nowhere near that exciting. It is actually made up of hundreds of vast buildings, constructed from breezeblock, housing giant, wheezing over-heated computers that store and spew out code, which our home PCs convert into words and images. These super-computers are maintained by wheezing, under-sexed geeks dressed in sweat drenched cotton T-shirts, jeans and sneakers, stabbing manically at misfiring circuit-boards with Phillips screwdrivers. True story. It’s very unromantic, and certainly not the ideal environment in which to meet a future spouse/sex-tag team mate.
I would literally rather be on my own for ever and ever, eating cat-food out of a tin, wearing flanel tracksuits and obsessively watching movies starring the love-rival who was once my best friend (a la Goldie Hawn before she takes the eternal life potion in Death Becomes Her), than go on a date with someone I met online. I’m not judging you, if that’s your thing. More than one of my closest friends has met someone on the internet and indulged unspeakable activities (oral sex on Waterloo bridge, felching); I just find the whole thing supremely depressing.
Mind you, I have dipped my metaphorical tootsies in the online dating pool – in the throes of a ‘try-anything-once-or-I’ll-be-alone-forever’ hysteria. I never got as far as meeting up with any of the specimens who attempted to engage me in online banter (‘do you like willies? I have a big willie’ was an actual message I recieved on mysinglefriend.com, quality-control didn’t work there Sarah Beeny, creepy perverts have friends too), but I got far enough in to know it wasn’t for me. I struggle to maintain sufficient levels of oxytocin to sustain desire for men I meet and make myself sexually available to in real life; a whole new kettle of fish is going to get spilt (if I may mix my metaphors) should I start trying to stimulate attraction for ones I’ve met virtually.
If you need evidence, other than my instinctive aversion to the practice, that online dating is a reason to be single I would point you in the direction of the match.com ads. Those vacuous micro-stories featuring the mousy-haired hipster and her musical soul-mate. These advertisements, I presume, attempt to present a quirky love story that might appeal to the try-hard bohemian youth of Hoxton. While it is no surprise to me that advertising ‘creatives’ (the embodiment of the try-hard Bohemian East End set) came up with this smug, vomit inducing, corporate fairytale, I am somewhat amazed that the match.com people agreed to pay actual money for the idea. I would’ve laughed in the ad-agency’s face, and probably resorted to violence.
Still, at least match.com had a go. You’ve got admire them, in a way, for having the audacity to attempt to sell the experience of meeting up with a stranger in the hope that it might lead to romance. It seems an inherently flawed concept. I encounter strangers every day (for free!) and there are maybe two or three a year who come anywhere close to meeting the strict criteria I adhere to when selecting men to make sweet love with (muscular back, smile that suggests an acquaintance with danger, feigned indifference to my beauty). I’m 100% sure that paying £20 a month and seeing a photo of the stranger before the encounter would make zero difference to the odds of animal attraction. Plus, online dating would mean that I’d have to engage in ‘dating’ in the American sense. My worst fear. The idea of dinner and a movie in no way appeals to me as suitable pre-sexual activity. The kind of awkwardness that dating fosters i.e. cringe-waves so intense they make you want to evaporate from your own skin, like a vapour, can only be tempered with alcohol consumed in binge volume, without the sobering addition of food. This is the British way.
Oh God, who am I kidding? Even the British way’s depressing, leading as it does to equally awkward morning-after encounters; where you’re forced to hand over your number to the simpering moron who you only agreed to share a bed with because you were too pissed to face the night bus home. Just thinking about it makes me go all reclusive and start googling pet shops that sell cats. Why do people put themselves through this stuff? For sex? For babies? It can’t be worth it. Fuck the dating thing; online or off-line, it’s too much pressure – a cup of tea and a twix’ll do me.