I sometimes forget that I met my ex-wife Sophia online, not on a dating site, but on a long-vanished forum on LA Freenet, an experiment in free internet service in Los Angeles.
Our first conversation was about children’s books. I said my favorite was Curious George Goes to the Zoo. She liked The Little Prince. Neither of us had read the other’s fave, so we agreed to go to the library to check out the competition.
A few days we emailed each other with the results. She found Curious George “childish.” I found the Little Prince “pretentious and boring.” It was love at first sight.
Don’t laugh. This is how it works in the movies. Imagine Sarah Bullock, playing a conservationist with Greenpeace, pushing past the secretary to confront the CEO of the oil company which plans to drill off of Venice Beach, played by George Clooney. She takes one look at him, and what do you know — this is the same guy she had sex with last night after meeting him at the bar in the Mexican café in Westwood!
Opposites attract in movies. But what about in real life?
Personally, if I met some woman who was into rodeos, it might be fun to learn more about her passions. I know we are all taught to be confident in our own beliefs and likes, but what ever happened to learning about new things?
Can I also say that I am a Democrat and Sophia was a Republican? I wonder if we met in today’s angrier America whether we could even get past the first swipe. Yes, our views were important, but love has not boundaries, right?
One of the most interesting developments in online dating today is the need to judge each other by the most superficial of things — our cultural interests. Perhaps it is the result of “swipe and meet” apps where there are no questionnaires like on E-Harmony, and the bios are the length of Twitter updates. When using an app like Tinder or Bagel Meets Coffee, we know nothing about the person’s moral or artistic character, even after a first date. The best way to judge worthiness (other than looks and chemistry) is to grab information about their “likes,” much as we do on Facebook. But these likes are not the old-fashioned “walks in the rain” and “pina coladas,” which are activities done as part of romantic rituals, but media-created products that are consumed, such as music and tv shows. But what do these “likes” really say anything about us other than the fact we pushed a button?
One of my dates went completely downhill when I revealed that I never listened to NPR, as if my lack of radio-listening was a sign that I was a Tea Party member. I asked another woman if she wanted to see a Broadway musical, and her response was “that she does NOT see musicals.” It was a confusing moment, because I wasn’t sure if she was rejecting me or had some terrible fear of actors belting out songs.
Maybe it is a New York thing, but there has been so much name-dropping on my dates, from alternative bands to Bjork exhibits, that I almost fear being banned from a dating site if I mention my love of ABBA or Curious George Goes to the Zoo. Before dating, my biggest fear was that I would forget to shave. Now, I feel like I need to read the right books.
“No, I’m sorry. I haven’t listened to “Serial” yet. No, I haven’t read Dave Eggers yet. But I do have a blog.”
“Like Mashable or TechCrunch?”
“No. A personal blog.”
“What do you write about?”
“You know. Usual stuff. Like telling all my friends and the general public all about my dates.”
“Do you make any money doing this?”
“Hmm. I saw you went to film school. I love movies. I love Wes Anderson. You see any good movies lately?”
“Well, last night I watched this movie on cable called “Quartet” about a bunch of elderly opera singers in a British nursing home. It was pretty good.”
“I don’t think we are a good match.”
Do you think common interests in music, TV shows, or movies is the best barometer of a good match? If I watch Duck Dynasty does that brand me as a Republican and Jon Stewart as a liberal, and does it matter what we CONSUME in the media? Is this “like” mentality, even in dating, the fault of social media?