The Dating Dot Com phenomenon came on the scene in the 1990s and since then has developed exponentially into a massive industry. You can’t watch evening TV or pick up a popular magazine without encountering advertisements touting this or that dot com which all but guarantee that they will find the right person for you. Many of us, from ages 20 to 76, have ventured forth and tried this new modality. After all, what did we have to lose but loneliness?
Upon using this new modality several problems have come to the surface that are perhaps unavoidable with a new, unregulated service. We have explored many of the problems and pitfalls of this modality, of which there are many. To recap, here is what you need to keep a wary eye on:
There is a definite learning curve to using these new dot coms. You are frequently reminded and instructed how to better your chances for a response by keying on certain things that people say in their descriptions about themselves. But I am not convinced that this does any good. A “free” trial week or weekend can result in your profile being posted indefinitely but you have no way to respond to gestures at you because you haven’t paid for service beyond that free time. Consequently the people responding to you can get no response back. It seems all too easy for the Dot Coms to use you to enhance their statistics. They are poorly responsive to your complaints and requests, and, indeed, seem to ignore them, i.e., honoring the mileage area you wish to stay within. When you contract with one, multiple others seem to jump on the bandwagon and inundate you. They tempt you with unverifiable numbers of contacts and then demand fees if you want to see those contacts. There seems to be a fair amount of deception practiced by the industry and the clientele alike—bogus flirts and contacts by scantily clad young beauties one third your age, and deceptive pictures posted by clientele which only become obvious when you meet in person. But the most cited complaint seems to be the very low response rate that the vast majority of users get. While the advertising seems to tout a 50-68% response rate the vast majority of users seem to experience a 1 to 5% response rate. It would be interesting to compare responses for the 20-30 age group to the over 50 group.
There are many instances of obvious scams, particularly if you read comments in the social media. One lady I interviewed pointed out two separate men developing a relationship with her on Christian Dangler. Then they are mysteriously called out of the country, become stranded and then ask — beg — for money or access to her bank account so that they can get back to the U.S.A. Is this not exactly what shows up daily in our spam accounts? Other more disturbing instances include censorship by the Dot Coms of comments critical of them. The social media warns to watch your credit card after you cancel your service. Many complain of getting re-upped anyway. Again, read about the lawsuits leveled at the Dating Dot Coms on Google.
So are we giving these Dating Dot Coms failing marks and recommending that you stay away? No, I am not. Over the course of 8 months I have met or made contact with maybe 6-8 people who are, for the most part, upstanding good people. Some have turned out to have significant diseases and physical disabilities that re-open old wounds of mine. I cannot go down that path again. Some have had very different dating objectives in mind than my own. Some just want a pen-pal—someone to correspond with. Some have been very needy and quickly drain my energy. Some have been rejecting of me. Is this any different, though, than what goes on in the non- computer world? It is not. Will I keep contact with a couple of these people? Yes, I probably will, but because I just like them, not because I expect to develop a close, intimate relationship with them.
I say to myself, “Perhaps we have to embrace the future.” This is a new way of meeting prospective people that seems to fit better with the younger generation who can more easily assimilate computers and cell phones and smart phones. I think that they have much better response rates. I’m not sure to what extent we older generation people can embrace this new modality but certainly many of us have taken the risk to try it whether we admit to it or not. It remains to be seen just how successful it will be for us. As I said earlier in the series, where else can you get a list of people complete with pictures and personal info. This has the potential to be a wonderful way to preview people and pick and choose who you want to meet. You would have to admit that this is true. But potential and actualization are two very different concepts. And the initial TV advertisement touting that you want to find the right partner, that special someone, someone to marry—that is not false advertising. Maybe all of us aren’t looking for someone to marry, but all of us are looking for that special someone—however you define “special”
As with any new modality it is important to examine things carefully before jumping in. Sure Dating Dot Coms have been around for over 20 years. But many of us over 50 were not in the market until relatively recently. Many of us are old school. We learned how to meet people before the advent of the internet. Then in the 1980s we were confronted with the new revolution—home computers and the internet. “How do you turn this thing on? How do you switch channels? What else can you do with it?” Of course it has become a whole new modality that many of us embraced, and some of us have never learned to embrace.
This seems to be a time of massive growth of the Dating Dot Com industry and there is very little regulation. The dust has not yet begun to settle. Couple that with a strong human need, a desire for intimate contact with significant other people and caution is the word.
What have I gained in my $240, eight month venture into the world of computer dating? At this point I have made one, possibly two, ongoing friendships that conceivably could be called significant, but not intimate. With one there are significant health issues that scare me greatly and keep me at a distance. The other relationship is much too new to assess. If nothing else the whole experience of writing to close to 400 people has served to clarify my view of myself and what I could offer someone else. But there must be an easier way.
To the negative, my wariness of the motivations of others has increased. Certainly my opinion of the Dating Dot Coms is at a lower level than when I began this venture. Will I continue with Dating Dot Coms? NO! When I compare the energy it took to direct my efforts to close to 400 people and the great frustration I experience at the absolutely meager payoff, I feel it has been all for naught.
Whether you are 20 years old or 67 years old, let the buyer beware has never been more appropriate both in contracting with a Dating Dot Com or the meeting of a prospective date. No matter how sophisticated these computer matches purport to be, nothing can take the place of face to face, sitting down and meeting a person, watching body language, hearing the word usage, and coming away with an impression of a person. That is the old psychologist in me.
This ongoing column is dedicated to those of us—post 60’ers– after “the sinking”. If you identify with it, please come into the lifeboat and take a seat. This is the ongoing saga of coping with the post 6o and single again dilemma. I am open to ideas, feedback, and information that maybe helpful to all of us. You can reach me at tel: 330-562-9801 or e-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com
Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed