What did we learn from Cracked's "Worst online dating profile ever"? Not much.
Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - 04:01 PM
One of yesterday's big viral stories was by Cracked reporter Alli Reed, who used OkCupid to create the self-described "Worst Online Dating Profile Ever." Reed used pictures of a model friend of hers, and then loaded the profile with nods to the fictional woman being manipulative, narcissistic, and a little crazy.
It was meant to be comment on the kind of incessant propositions women get on dating sites, and how there seems to be no profile, no matter how repugnant, that won't inspire messages from horny dudes. Once men messaged her, she would reply to them with increasingly bizarre series of demands, like asking them what their favorite beanie babies are, and demanding that they let her give them tattoos.
Reed's point is valid - from everything I've read about it, online dating for women (to say nothing of simply online interaction) can be difficult, unpleasant and exhausting. But this article didn't really shed light on how or why this takes place. It’s just burning a straw man for clicks.
Also, the "worst online dating profile ever" honestly didn't read as that awful to me. A lot of the “awfulness” of the fake profile is established by loading it with pop culture signifiers that the Cracked.com audience is likely to find loathsome. The profile name is "aaroncarterfan," she professes to be a fan of dog clothes and the Grown Ups movie franchise. I get that you (and I) may not be fans of Grown Ups, but the most recent film did gross a quarter billion dollars, so the audience that loved this article is likely not representative of the international userbase of OkCupid. Granted, she also claims to enjoy knocking cups out of homeless people’s hands and to be lying to her ex-boyfriend for child support.
So what do we learn from this? That there are lonely men out there who really want to sleep with a pretty woman. Reed had to have known the outcome of this article before it even began. Of course men were going to message this account. Some of them wouldn’t have read her full profile, some would’ve thought she was joking about her most repugnant behavior, and some wouldn’t have cared. Not everyone on OkCupid is looking for a perfect lifetime match. Heck, "aaroncarterfan" says in her profile she's looking for casual sex. What rule dictates that you’re only allowed to have casual sex with people with good ethics and great pop culture preferences?
Reed ends her article with a plea that reads, in part: "You are better than this. I know many of you would never message AaronCarterFan, but many of you would, and a whole bunch of you did. You're better than that. There are women and men out there who are smart, and kind, and challenging, and honest, and a lot of other really positive adjectives."
I would turn that plea back on Reed. There was a way to write an article that was smart, challenging and honest about the pitfalls of online dating as a woman that wasn't attempting to create a honeytrap to point and laugh at lonely OkCupid creeps. Nice Guys of OkCupid and Amanda Hess's recent article about the internet's hostility toward women both manage, in very different ways, to make a point about the way men interact with women online. But this Cracked article doesn't.