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January 4, 2013

Slate: The horrors of online dating

(Continued)

LOS ANGELES —

I'm actually glad to finally hear from a Jacob, the male counterpoint to Kate Bolick's own Atlantic examination of "All the Single Ladies" who end up paired, impermanently, with guys like him. The problem is that, unlike Bolick, whose story of singledom is intrinsically tied to her gender, Jacob scoots by in this story with no examination of his maleness. Slater relegates gender to a parenthetical: "Gender, too, may play a role." Then, he fails to interview a single woman in the piece. Instead, he presents as evidence quotes from male online dating executives who say stuff like, "I often wonder whether matching you up with great people is getting so efficient, and the process so enjoyable, that marriage will become obsolete."

Let us set aside the bizarre assertion that marriage has survived until now, as an institution, because it is so fun and that anything that is more fun threatens its very existence. Let us instead examine this notion that online dating is an "enjoyable" experience. My own stint dating online produced: one date with a guy who believes he is haunted by ghosts; three messages from a man who ended the series by writing, "P.S.: you're so [expletive] hot i would lick the [expletive] out of your [expletive] just to touch your [expletive]"; an aggressive messenger I never met but have twice had to stealthily avoid when ducking into my local Trader Joe's; bland drinks with perfectly OK dudes; many Jacobs.

No, online dating is not a joy. It is a horrific den of humanity that sometimes seems even less fun than actually being married. But it is kind of funny and interesting, mostly because it throws the offline dating economy into stark relief. Jacobs exist in real life, too, staring glaze-eyed at women a decade their junior from across the sports bar. Paging through all of their photos, assembled in one place, never made me feel like my world was teeming with compatible singles.

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