Despite the world steadily getting smaller, we seem to be ever increasingly isolated from each other. We no longer find each other in the classroom, or the office cubicle down the hall, or in the frozen foods aisle.
With the shrinking of real-life communities, the internet, with its inherent ability to create virtual communities, seems to provide a very natural vehicle through which to meet people.
The steps to online dating are straightforward:
1. Browse through the listings
2. If the pictures are attractive enough, read the profile
3. Exchange witty email banter for one or two rounds
5. And here things get a little fuzzy based on personal preference. But there is SOME consensus - if the reaction to this first meeting is extreme, you have acquired either a significant other (for a while at least) or another hilarious story to share with your friends during the de-briefing.
Also possible to acquire a stalker, but that's another post.
Otherwise, if the first meeting falls into that murky middle ground, proceed steadily (barring anything unusual) to no more than three dates to figure out if you ever want to be naked with this person. If after the third date you still have no desire to share nakedness (then or ever), then send a polite "no thank you" email.
Now that seems reasonable enough.
However, this is the problem: the lack of sufficient data points.
Attraction can compensate for a great deal. I find it TRAGIC when a guy can't spell or has no understanding of basic grammar or just generally gives "bad email." But if I LIKED him... then I'd just give him an English usage dictionary for Valentine's Day. We've all been there - mainsqueeze is so stupid he/she can't pour water out of a boot with the instructions printed on the heel, but with a face/abs like that, who cares?
But attraction (distinct from attractiveness) cannot be communicated in a picture. I would argue that attraction cannot be fully assessed sitting across a table either. Don't we need to see the other person in motion? How do they talk to other people, can they hold their booze, what are their friends like, are they good at their jobs, are they passionate about their hobbies, what books do they read (and not just SAY they read), are they polite to waitstaff, do they have criminal records?
In short, we need the data points that are more readily available when sharing the same real-life community. Or, to quote Hannibal Lecter: "We begin by coveting what we see every day."
So what do I see every day? Apparently, given the demographic of my neighborhood, I will have to push a gay man back into the closet. Fortunately, I, like Bayne Gibby (mp3 a few posts down), look really good in men's pants.