08 June 2013

Free to be Personal

Disclaimer: possible TMI/NSFW warnings may apply.

Many years ago, circa 2003, I took out a personal ad in a local newspaper. It was a free paper, but you had to pay to check your own messages or if your ad was too long to begin with or you wanted more time. The point is you got what you paid for and that made it very manageable and easy to navigate.
Later on, I discovered dating sites, namely Yahoo! and eHarmony. The latter proved to be the better site by way of its guided communication, which eliminated nearly all small talk and thus made connections so much more efficient. Yahoo! meanwhile, had a bit of a quality control problem, mostly due to the fact that most people only took out ads because they were pre-registered via their e-mail accounts, simply thought to themselves, "Oh, what the Hell!" and left it at that. There's also that age old problem that far too many people simply can't write. I'm not a fascist about grammar, more like a constable in a small township, and I'm on record saying I don't even believe there is any such thing as perfect grammar, especially when it comes to pronouns in this liberally-enlightened age. Still, despite those standards, most people can't get past a headline without notching punctuation. What's worse is they openly admit their fault and essentially give up right then and there, as if the thought of giving their words a once-over would be an irredeemable sign of weakness. That saddens me; if you can't be bothered to take presenting yourself even somewhat seriously, what kind of people do you think you'll attract? There's being yourself, and then there's showing off your "lazy place." If you're going to wear a T-shirt and jeans to a wedding, at least have it be one of those tees with the tuxedo printed on it. It's an old joke, but at least you thought of one.
I think the biggest part of the problem (besides giving free users too much freedom) is the sheer volume of information you can put on a dating site. Sure, you can keep things concise, but that's not going to change all those potentially barren headings that force you to compartmentalize your persona, spread yourself thin across all vaguely similar topics. It's Blank Page Syndrome with your love life on the line. Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the old newspaper style of classified ads. You wouldn't use them to find your future spouse, but for a simple date or fling, it gets to the point and doesn't waste anyone's time. Some may argue there's more risk involved due to the pithy presentation, but the risk of someone abusing a free service is greater. This brings me to Craigslist.
Craigslist is a damned cesspool, and I'm not merely referring to those horror stories about child prostitution ads being wah too easy to come across and seemingly impossible to moderate. I'm talking about it being the worst of both worlds; the way people try to combine the newspaper style of simplicity with the pure unrefined illiteracy of some online personals. That Craigslist is free is its deepest flaw. Couple that with its popularity, and you've got a breeding ground for depravity. Granted, microtransactions aren't a foolproof deterrent for creeps or a magic bullet of quality assurance, but they are not without merit.
There has to be some kind of middle ground, a way to reach about the same number of onlookers as Craigslist, have the simplicity and directness of a newspaper ad, but still convey a serviceable amount of trust like a more upscale dating site. I once thought of Twitter, having a separate account that would operate entirely through Direct Messages for correspondence (casual flirting, icebreakers, and the like) until calls or meetings in person could be arranged. I even wrote up the ad, trying to best summarize what I'm looking for in a not-too-serious/casual-with-an-option-for-more relationship. I don't know if I'll post it there or go through with the plan, but I do know that I'm essentially done with dating sites (for reasons I won't bore you with right now) and I doubt I'll give in and tread the dreaded waters of Craigslist's "casual encounters/misc. romance" listings. So, I'm simply going to post the ad here, get this out of my system and see what happens next. I should add this is modified to include age (I've decided my cut-off is my own age +/- 10 years) and expectations (I have an admittedly laissez-faire attitude about longevity in relationships). Everything else is how I'd planned the tweet, possibly with a hashtag like #personalad. Hopefully the shorthand isn't out of date.

Tall, slim SWM, 31yo, seeks 21-41yo fit or avg SWAHF bass player who doesn't mind being tied up for FWB, possibly more. Must love cats, movies, and retrogaming.

Yep, this is pretty much what I want. Hopefully I won't have to pursue more realistic goals like hunting unicorns in the Atlantean wilderness.

I shouldn't drink and type.

*Singing voice can be subbed for bass guitar.

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