Mike Photo

Dating.com

I decided to explore the world of computer dating for a week. Why? For my art ... Also because I had another deadline rapidly approaching, my traditional time to waste focus on a distraction.

I logged on to nzdating.com and within minutes was signed up and in the game. A predator among the fawns. Around 1800 others are on line this Saturday afternoon. About 4000 women visited in the last day, twice as many men. Most likely when they also should all have been working.

This one site has just passed half a million members. At least some of them are who they say they are.

Users first post some thoughts to describe themselves and those they seek. If you are under twenty-five, you must write in indecipherable text speak.

There is the option of attaching a photo to your listing. Or if you are a Westie girl, you must use an image of a dolphin. We don't know why ...

Some people have studio portraits. Others don't even brush their hair for a grainy web cam shot. One woman's listing was titled 'Love to laugh'. Then her picture looked like she had just discovered a cot death. Come on. Vet the photos people. Make that effort.

Many also have the caption "I hate this photo of me!" ... Then why use it as the sole visual representation of yourself? You Muppet.

Most women on the site act coy and tick the 'Keeping options open' box. Oh you teasing minxes you ...

A simple menu lets you find and message other users. Start a contact list to manage your many prospects and block contact from those who displease you. The layout is a lot like eBay. I keep resisting the urge to bid on people.

You can see a list of who is on line with you, or go for a more specific search of all members. Selecting your preferences. Surprisingly 'Breathing' is not a listed category.

Users also have the option of 'Perfect Match'. Click this and the system presents you with a list of other folk most like yourself. My 98% was not the most attractive woman. Under her photo a button offered 'See larger?' I assume it meant the photo, because the woman couldn't get any larger and still be captured with existing lens technology.

I hit it off with Miss. 59% - our love nearly denied because she put shorter requirements in the height field. This system's accuracy is about on par with a drunk guy using tarot cards. The fields filled in by applicants are not exactly as comprehensive as an FBI profile.

Age, location, marital status, if you smoke, etc. You give more details of your car during its registration. But about the same as for a new dog license.

First impressions are important. I make my initial contact with the powerful opening gambit of "Your head is pleasing to me". Oh yeah. City smooth baby ... I meet new folk quickly.

Oh ... It is a little disconcerting when you attempt to delete an email that you have received. A message from the site asks, "Really delete"? It sounds worried. "For the love of God you wont find anyone better!" It should be more supportive.

There is often a picture of "Me and my friend" on a user's page. The friend is invariably an utter spunk. But it is considered poor form to ask for their details. Instead I like to say that I can't pursue a relationship with the person because I have already slept with the friend shown in the picture and it would be awkward.

Alternatively, if the picture of the user suggests they often drink, just introduce yourself as someone they themselves shagged. Act offended that they don't remember. Fun, fun, fun.

The listings for gay men are very different. Faces are often simply replaced with genitals. Pages of text describing the very specific attributes and qualities of a desired partner become a single line. "Want man sex now!"

Sigh. How simple it must be. I entertain the notion of changing teams but the next penis reminds me why I'm straight. They look really odd. Like an elephant, if you more than just glance at it.

The 3 way listings are much fun: "My girlfriend really wants another woman to join us for fun times". Sure. She just hasn't been told about it yet. Then there is the more sophisticated 'Pretend lesbian' ad: "I'm a hot young Bi girl seeking similar. Perhaps I will let my boyfriend watch us. Or join in. Perhaps without me there" ... Hmmmmm.

There are also more than a few fake listings. Someone has registered his or her dog. The Destiny Church management are listed as swingers. Pictures of highly desirable women are accompanied with the thoughts of what a teenage boy imagines they would want.

No doubt to entrap other teenage boys (Or an equally desperate older man) into some form of on or off line embarrassment. Who has seen the film Ghost World?

One of my early contacts warns me to be careful of attracting stalkers. Then sends me a series of naked pictures. Concluding with her and a large pink sex toy. She seemed a very nice lady.

Its amazing how often and rapidly "Shy lady seeks friendship" becomes "Here are some pictures of my breasts that I prepared earlier ..."

I quickly became aware that many of the odder people listed had cats appearing somewhere in their pictures. At this exact moment my own stretched on my lap, passed wind and got comfortable again. I stopped feeling superior.

Then the 'Bad thing' happened...

It is very unnerving to have a sixty plus woman shown licking her painted lips seductively at you. In theory the site prohibits obscene material. But if the next image of that elderly woman in nothing but thigh high boots and a g-string doesn't qualify, what the hell does?

The penis pictures were not my cup of tea, but that's.... That's fucked up. This is one of those images that continue to haunt. Like the horrible footage of the Kurdish children gassed by Saddam.

The NZ Dating site also offers an area to list upcoming events and a basic chat room. The most popular thread I found was on the topic of white supremacy in New Zealand. Don't ask. I have no idea either ...

The scary thing was that in order to participate, the skinheads had to be members. I guess the knights of the clan need love too. "Blonde, blue eyed Aryan seeks similar. Hobbies include books (Burning), walks on the beach and protecting the future of the white race ..."

I am also deciding on the paint scheme for my new house at the moment. So I find myself looking past the available women, at the interiors of their homes. I got some good ideas. I'm sure the gay guys decorate better, but you can't see past the genitals in close up.

Still, they do arrange them well. There IS an art to this. Apparently the penis must be shown rested on a thigh, under soft light. Much as a jeweller would present an item to a customer.

There are some real gems across all categories of listings. "I'm 16 with four children" ... "I am a clean person and disease free. It would be nice if you are too". Some actually boast of being "Selective". Others "Not interested if you are married or in jail".

Some women will use an alias like 'Gagging4it'. Have a picture of them exposing their breasts and then protest in their profile "Not interested in sex! So stop sending that kind of message guys!". A breakdown in communication I guess.

My favorite was from a gay listing. It had only one line. "I will drive to where you are NOW!" I laughed so hard I spilled tea on the cat.

I can see the addictive nature of this site. If you are not careful you could soon become immovable, like an Asian at a pokie machine. Only the spinning bells are replaced with women's heads and you can win a shag.

But I'm not convinced about finding a partner this way.

Sure, you don't have to buy drinks and suffer loud music in a smoke filled bar. Yes, the other person is more likely to have naked pictures of themselves immediately available. But I don't see poets reaching for pens to capture the magic of these strangely accelerated courtships.

Where is the shiver of thrill as you first capture a woman's glance in a Parisian café? Well all right, a pub in Onehunga. Perhaps this is the future? "I'm busy. You are busy. Lets find love between work and the gym". I kinda hope not.

In the main the users seem nice, genuine folk. There is the odd prozzie vying for trade. A Filipina seeking a husband in broken English. Five hundred kiwi couples after group sex ... But the majority of listings seem after a love connection and friends.

However, as the info on the site suggests: "If you feel serious about a relationship, but are still unsure, you could both agree on a background check, these are generally provided by companies such as private investigators".

They continue: "If something or someone sounds too good to be true then they probably are".

Ah, Romance ...

This was an interesting diversion. I also made two very nice friends. Will they compensate for the piece of my humanity stolen by seeing the nude sixty plus? No. Not if our friendship lasts the ages.

Now all together ...

If you like Pina Coladas ...
Getting caught in the Rain ... Cha, cha, cha, cha ...

Mike Loder, 2004

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