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On Being Single
Published on September 14, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at The Awl, Joe Berkowitz has written a very funny and very insightful piece about being single and the culture of online dating titled "My Superpower Is Being Alone Forever."

Here's an excerpt:

"With infinite choice comes infinite opportunities to judge. The more options that exist, the pickier you become. Scrolling through profile after profile, I am transformed into an imperial king, surveying his goodly townsfolk from a balcony on high. Those with minor perceived flaws are summarily dismissed ('Next!') because surely someone closer to the Hellenic ideal is just around the corner. Anyone cute might be cast aside for the smallest breach of taste: a penchant for saying things like 'I love life and I love to laugh' or self-identifying as 'witty.' Yet even when I genuinely find myself attracted to someone, I'll still react with skepticism. What’s the catch? What dark and terrible secret causes her to resort to this thing I am also doing? After scanning closely for red flags and finally deigning her regally worthy, I dispatch a message. But then the truth reveals itself: the king is not her type and also he is not really a king.

Messaging strangers on a dating site is a great way to dabble in Glengarry Glen Ross-style competitive salesmanship. Every hot lead is sure to have already attracted a multitudinous horde of Al Pacinos and Jack Lemmons offering the same bill of goods. You’re all sharing space together in an overstuffed inbox, so words need to be chosen wisely. Asking questions about a prospect’s profile is one way to go—except she probably wrote it months ago and so mentioning her affinity for Frank’s Red Hot now seems as dopey as it probably should. Another option is asking nonsense questions, like who’d win in a fight between Matt Lauer and Brian Williams. (Advantage: Williams.) Since such questions aren’t specific to each lady, though, she’ll probably assume you’re cutting and pasting, and let’s face it—you probably are. When an opening salvo goes sour in person, you can always keep talking. Online, you just get ignored forever. You can send a follow-up later on ('Do you HATE having an awesome time with handsome gentlemen?') but that smacks of Jack Lemmon-level desperation."

The essay also comes with cool illustrations by Joanna Neborsky. And I suspect that anyone who has ever dabbled in online dating will find something to relate to.

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