Sunday, January 9, 2011


I ran across a profile on a dating site of a man that I encountered at a restaurant bar a few years ago. A working class bloke who was versed in Brooklynese, I suspected that he had stopped paying attention in class around the 3rd grade, his vocabulary was limited to two syllable words and under, his grammar appalling, his thick bridge and tunnel brogue didn’t help matters much.

I clicked on his photo, I was curious to see how he would present himself in a medium where prose is king.

Clearly, he had enrolled in a writing program at Columbia or some such school. His sentences were well-constructed, his charm was jumping off the page. “They’re”, “there”, and “theirs” were as they should be. He didn’t stop at periods and comma’s, there were semicolons and m dashes, too!

Clearly a case of Cyrano – it was a charming profile, but the plan was clearly flawed. A bait n switch scenario, how would he get past the first email exchange? A pipe and smoking jacket by night, a Sanitation worker by day, I’m sure these guys existed, but with this guy it surely was not the case. His gift for sparkling conversation was limited; the only four-syllable word I heard him use at the bar, “Jagermeister”.

Perhaps he would supply a phone number and nothing else in a first email for some unsuspecting copy editor, lawyer, or Wall Street gal to use. The first few seconds of the conversation would be cut short. Why set yourself up for such embarrassment?

The same applies to men or women who post a photo from a decade or two ago, or of their body before the ravages of time or too much pizza had taken their toll. It may get you to an email exchange, even a phone call or two – but the face to face meeting can only be put off for so long, eventually you have to show up ¬– it’s hard to hide the extra pounds, the missing teeth, the lapsed education. I knew a man who had exchanged emails with a beautiful woman from New Jersey. When she rolled up in her steel wheelchair and excess weight. He still took her to dinner, then sent her a brief polite goodbye the moment he arrived home. Misrepresentation front loads hope, but the end result is the self- fulfilling prophecy that inspired the fraud in the first place.

How do we best sell ourselves online, in a medium where visuals rule, and words play a close second? People of all shapes and sizes, and all levels of verbal dexterity deserve love, and in the real world, they find it. Are some people just better off staying away from dating sites, and Facebook where witty repartee and decent spelling are the price of entry? It doesn’t seem quite fair, but does this medium exclude the underachievers, the less than picture perfect, or those who simply can’t type? Misrepresentation is one of the inherent tools available to us on the internet, but it only gets you so far – when the buyer receives the fake Rolex – whether it be watch or perspective date – it’s game over.


  1. Married men and women on dating sites, promises of a bigger penis, "authentic" goods for sale, on the internet it's always BUYER BEWARE.

  2. Even though you argue that repeat customers are unlikely, it still sounds like a ripe business opportunity for an enterprising copywriter!


  3. Ooo! Online Dating Profile Sprucer. I likee!!