Earlier today, consumer technology weblog Gizmodo.com made a post about accidentally ending up on an OKCupid date with the world champion of Magic: The Gathering.Under normal circumstances, this could be a fairly entertaining anecdote. Instead, Gizmodo.com intern Alyssa Bereznak uses the opportunity to show how much of a terrible, judgmental human being she is, and little more. The first and most obvious problem with this article: how is it newsworthy? The "point" of the story is to illustrate that people often exclude important and possibly dealbreaking details in their online dating profiles, and that we should all be more careful and "Google the shit out of your next online date."
Really, Alyssa? As your article indicates, Jon Finkel was about the only eligible bachelor that contacted on you on OKCupid. Despite his other redeeming qualities — Magic: The Gathering was the ultimate dealbreaker? While I've never been a Magic player myself (as in, regular/collecting player; yes, I've played the game, usually when Brian McGackin talks me into it), I struggle to see how this could be the ultimate, most disgusting and irredeemable sin that an online date could make. Maybe the author wasn't aware that Magic world champions can make upwards of $230,000 per tournament. Sorry, Alyssa — you just lost your Sugardaddy!
The most insulting part of the article is the way she compares Magic: The Gathering champion status to divorce and single parenthood as crucial details that one should be expected in his/her online dating profile. Did you ever stop to think, Melissa, that Jon does not want his championship status to be such an important factor in his relationships? To some people, he's a celebrity (he does have his own playing card, after all) — might that status skew his relationship prospects at all? He's a Magic: The Gathering rock star, and I'm sure there are plenty of geeky groupies out there looking for a piece of his mana. What if Chris Evans was looking for dates online, and decide not to include the fact that he's, you know, Captain America, for fear of meeting online desperate starfuckers and scaring off all of the ladies he'd actually want to date? To prove my point, here's a the exact same story, with a few minor details changed. This time, instead of a Magic: The Gathering world champion, my online date is secretly — well, you'll see.
Earlier this month, I came home drunk and made an OKCupid profile. What the hell, I thought. I'm busy, I'm single, and everybody's doing it. Sure, I'd heard some stories, but what was the worst that could happen?
Two weeks into my online dating experiment, OKCupid had broken me down. It was like the online equivalent to hanging out alone in a dark, date-rapey, drum-n-bass club. Every time I signed on, I was hit by a barrage of creepy messages. "hey qt, iwud lik veru much for me nd u to be marry n procreate." Or "you look strong hehe." So when I saw an IM from a girl named Stefanie that said, "You should go out with me :)" I was relieved. She seemed normal. I gave her my name. "Google away," I said. Then dinner was ready, and I signed off without remembering to do the same.
We met for a drink later that week. Stefanie was short and thin, dressed in garish glam-punk outfit that either looked like it was way too coordinated or scrapped together at the last minute from Goodwill. We started talking about normal stuff—family, work, college. I told her that I was a musician. And then she casually mentioned that she was as well.
"Actually," she paused. "I'm fucking Lady Gaga"
I laughed. Oh that's a funny joke! I thought. This girl is funny! But the earnest look on her face told me she wasn't kidding.
I gulped my beer and thought about the life of a pop star, and the fashion celebrity. After all, I'd taken an Andy Warhol class, too, and as much I was never really into what Gaga was doing, I certainly understood it (or at least, I thought I did). But before I could dig deeper, we had to go. Stefanie had bought us tickets for a drag show in the basement of a seedy leather bar. It was not a particularly romantic evening.
The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums comparing him to Chuck Norris! This chick wasn't just some professional who dabbled in music at a tender age. She's Lady motherfucking Gaga!
Just like you're obligated to mention you're divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn't someone also be required to disclose any indisputable international popstar status? But maybe to her it was a long time ago? We met for round two later that week.
At dinner I got straight down to it. Did she still perform? "Yes." Strike one. How often? "I'm preparing for a tour next month." Strike two. Who did she hang out with? "I've met all my best friends through the music industry and drag shows." Strike three. I smiled and nodded and listened. Eventually I even felt a little bit bad that I care at all about her career. Here was a gal who had dedicated a good chunk of her life to becoming a prototypical celebrity/popstar, on a date with a guy who fancies dreams of singer-songwriter brilliance. This is what happens, I thought, when you leave things out of your online profile.
I later found out that Stefanie infiltrated her way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Fathers, warn your sons! This could happen to you. You'll think you've found a normal, edgy indie girl with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with genderqueer popstar far too obsessed with deconstructing the popular notions of "celebrity" based on what she once heard in an Andy Warhol class she took at NYU.
Maybe I'm an OKCupid asshole for calling it that way. Maybe I'm shallow for not being able to see past Stefanie's international superstardom. I'll own that. But there's a larger point here: that judging people on shallow stuff is human nature; one person's pop stardom is another person's fingernail biting, or sports obsession, or verbal tic. No online dating profile in the world is comprehensive enough to highlight every person's peccadillo, or anticipate the inane biases that each of us lugs around. There's no snapshot in the world that can account for our snap judgments.
So what did I learn? Google the shit out of your next online date. Like, hardcore.