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.


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Comments [5]

JR from MN

No article I've read on this has pointed out the drastic number of profiles out there that use sarcasm and subtleties. pfant above talks about the trope-language. However, it is likely that no OKCupid reader who messaged her believed that she abuses homeless people for fun or regularly fakes that she's pregnant. Most people who messaged her probably interpreted those statements as comical, witty, or sarcastic. Even her use of YOLO appears to be used with irony. All her references to pop culture, with a sarcastic tint, make her appear to be outgoing and somewhat intelligent (assuming the intentional sarcasm.) Finally, most online dating guides recommend making short poignant profiles, which is exactly what this is.

There are some pretty awful OKCupid profiles out there. Long, boring, written in total seriousness without a hint of humor or irony or sarcasm. If the same picture had been used with a 500+ word profile that was legitimately boring, unintelligent, and showed poor social skills, I am quite certain she would not have gotten as many replies.

Jan. 08 2014 01:44 PM

P.S. I've been a phone sex operator for over ten years, and created a number of 'characters' in that time, including more than one that fit this profile. And believe me, there are *many* guys for whom spoiled, narcissistic, gold digging and manipulative are plusses (at least when it comes to their sexual entertainment dollar.) And to those who say 'but it's a dating site, not a sexual entertainment site', guys mix those two concepts up all the time (disingenuously or not).

To be honest, after reading her profile, I'm a little suspicious that she's not aware of this trope, even if you just look at the use of the terms Goddess and her capitalization of Me in that first line. It's one thing to post a profile of a pretty girl up for casual sex. That'll obviously net you a ton of replies, but when you throw in as many codewords and trope-cliches as she did, you're waving a huge red flag signal at your audience, especially those well versed in buying sexual attention, that you're not just up for sex, you're up for a very specific, almost ritualized, compensated form of relationship.

People can't just up and advertise their sex work services on OKcupid type sites, but this type of signalling is a not uncommon way for some sex workers (whether we're talking escorts, phone/online, dommes, etc) to troll for new clients in supposedly relationship oriented locations.

Jan. 07 2014 04:41 PM

It wasn't just the casual sex aspect. That profile fit a specific, relatively common sex work/porno trope, namely the bratty, spoiled princess. In certain circles, it's as popular as the horny lonely housewife MILF. There's a significant portion of the phone sex/live cam/domme seeking male audience that looks for this exact type, and gets off on her insults, shallowness, demands, entitlement, etc, above and beyond her looks and willingness to talk/get dirty.

Seriously, though, it's a thing (kind of a mash up of barely legal, domination/humiliation tropes, and a splash of the sort of eroticization of stereotyped gender roles that form the base of many a kink.)

Not that there weren't a lot of guys who were just plain interested in casual sex full stop, but being surprised that ad got interest ridiculous, because it was almost a textbook example of that trope.

Google spoiled princess sex if you want proof, just maybe not at work.

Jan. 07 2014 04:29 PM
Erin from Lakewood, Ohio

Unfortunately, this is a direct rip-off from Cleveland's own Jennifer Verillo of The Broad's Side blog, who did this masterfully a couple of weeks ago, also on OKCupid, with nothing but a giant set of breast as her profile picture. It was a great concept the first time and, hey, imitation is said to be the greatest form of flattery.

Jan. 07 2014 04:22 PM

Breaking: Joke Article Is Joke

Jan. 07 2014 04:17 PM

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