Ted Rall: Online Dating for Desperate Young Dudes

beau-brummell-dighton-1805-ted-rallBreakingModern - Oafish “bro” behavior, i.e. guys sending sexist, misogynistic or other disgustingly piggish messages to women via email or text messaging, has been in the news a lot as of late.

From “GamerGate,” wherein a feminist video gaming critic known for her complaints about depictions of women in games and in gaming culture in general was forced to cancel a public appearance after receiving threats of violence and even death, to the decision of Robin Williams’ daughter to quit Twitter and Instagram because she received so many disturbing messages in the wake of her father’s death, to Amanda Hess’ much-talked-about essay “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” American society is increasingly focusing on the apparent belief by too many males that it is perfectly acceptable to resort to name-calling and dehumanizing – and frightening – threats when they disagree with a woman.

In large part, I suspect that the phenomenon of the gross online male is a subset of the illusion of privacy and safety enjoyed by someone sitting at home behind the screen in their underwear: you can say anything you want to anyone you want, and unlike at a bar, no one is going to punch you in the nose. Ninety-nine percent of the guys who send violent threats to a gaming critic wouldn’t have the guts to talk to her in person, much less threaten to kill her.

I was thinking about all this while reading a recent article in The Atlantic by Olga Khazan, “Rise of the Feminist Tinder-Creep-Busting Web Vigilante.” According to the writer, women who receive this sort of crap via online dating sites like Tinder, OkCupid and so on, are empowering themselves by publicly posting those comments, along with the names and identities of their authors.

Khazan showcased an Instagram page via ByeFelipe, where some of male humanity’s less-charming attempts to woo the second sex, as Simone de Beauvoir called it, are displayed for all to see.

“What in society makes them think that it’s okay to message someone like that?” Alexandra Tweten, who created ByeFelipe, asked. “At the same time, it’s funny. You can see the desperation.”

That struck a chord with me, not because I would send angry messages to a woman who rejected me online (or for that matter, offline), but because I vividly remember what it was like to be young, single and utterly clueless about the art of seduction.

At the root of the problem is the fact that online, as in the real world, single women appear to have hundreds of single men to choose from, whereas men are repeatedly approaching women, only to be repeatedly ignored or rejected. (I chose the word “appear” very carefully, since women don’t perceive it that way at all.)

As Khazan wrote: “One blogger recently ran an OkCupid experiment for which he set up five fake male and five fake female profiles. After a week, all of the women had received at least one message, the most-attractive women had received hundreds, but several of the men remained un-contacted. This kind of rejection, day after day, can foment a kind of deep resentment among the male daters.”

The key, of course, is to move past and through resentment, to figure out what actually works – and what actually works is turning yourself into a cool guy … the kind of guy a woman might actually want to go out with.

The good news for desperate young single guys is, the process of online dating can help you with that.

First, it teaches you patience. Khazan relates several stories about men who approached women online, didn’t receive a quick reply, and then got angry. What’s the point of that? No woman in the history of dating has ever changed her mind because a guy got pissed off at her. “Oh, wait, now that he’s acting like a total tool, I really do like him!” Make your approach, hope to hear back, and if you don’t, move on and don’t worry about it. As Matt Groening said in his comic strip Life in Hell, there are lots of cuttlefish in the sea.

Second good news about online dating? It teaches you humility. The fact is, especially if you are young and in your 20s, women have the upper hand in dating. (But don’t worry! One day, after you are divorced from the woman of your dreams and in your 40s or 50s, it will be exactly the other way around.)

Accept the reality of your situation. You have lots of competition. Getting frustrated isn’t going to help. Being better than the other guys will. One big place you can start is acting like a gentleman. Be polite. Be patient. Be cool. Take no for an answer. If you have a woman friend, she will probably tell you, that will put you ahead of the crowd.

Third good thing about online dating? It teaches you perseverance. Khazan: “Men, too, have grumbled online about the fact that all their hours spent browsing photos, writing love notes, and hitting send aren’t ‘paying off.'” Yeah, well, if you think that’s bad, wait until you’re looking for a job. These days, the average time between first contact and a hire exceeds six months. Finding a decent position is harder than it has ever been. You can whine about how hard it is, or you can roll up your sleeves and get to work. Same thing with online dating.

Fourth, online dating teaches you courtesy. Many men act like toads online, including sending naked photographs of themselves to total stranger. Obviously, some women are into it, but they will let you know if they want pics of your junk. Otherwise, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, keep your pants on and your camera off. A good rule here is, imagine that you are at a cocktail party and you approach a woman you’re interested in. Behave exactly the same way.

For BMod, I’m Ted Rall.

Digton’s 1805 caricature of Beau Brummell, above:BrummellDighton1805. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Header image: Almacks with Brummell by Rees Howell Gronow(Life time: (1794–1865)) - Original publication: A print from Reminiscences and Recollections of Captain Gronow: Being Anecdotes of Camp, Court, Club and Society 1810 to 1860 Immediate source: http://whitebison.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/asymmetric-hem-mr-darcy1.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Ted Rall

Author: Ted Rall

Based in New York, Ted Rall is an award-winning political cartoonist, essayist and Pulitzer Prize finalist. He covers news, justice, music and privacy for BreakingModern. Follow him @TedRall.

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