In the evening, I thought I would check to see if anyone had looked at my profile. They had. Thirty-eight of them. So, I started to look at the profiles of the people who had looked at my profile. It’s the online dating equivalent of a glance across a crowded room. There is a lot to read in some profiles, so this is a time-consuming process and it was rudely interrupted by a “ding.”
The “ding” was someone opening an Internet Messaging chat room with me and seeking my response. At first it was just an exchange of short pleasantries, and then the questions began to be more thought-provoking. I found myself taken aback by being asked by someone I had known for about five minutes if I intended to be a faithful partner. Wow. That was a surprise. Just as I was formulating a response to this, I heard another “ding.”
Within the space of about half an hour I found myself chatting through IM with six different men—simultaneously. It is hard to describe the complexity of holding six concurrent conversations, but if you have ever tried patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, you get the idea.
I was “fresh meat” on the site and had become victim of the trolls who seek out unsuspecting novices. Even so, I feel obligated to respond when someone talks to me and to answer their questions. I have learned, though, that I don’t have to give the answers they want or expect. I did give my first name to the first three, but not thereafter. They all asked for my email address, and I didn’t give it to them.
All six of these men were much younger than me and, when I pointed that out they all said “Age is just a number.” I said, “No, it’s not.” I told one man that there had been a lot of water under that bridge and his reply, oddly enough, was “Yes and there are lots of fish in that water all swimming around together.” I shake my head.
Two of the people with whom I chatted lived in California but a long way from my residence, and another two both lived in Chicago. I pointed out that I was not looking for a long distance relationship and they all said they were willing to move for the right woman. Who can do this? How many people with the normal job/family/friend commitments are free to just up and move? Now, that sounds fishy to me.
Two of the men were in the military and serving overseas. I sympathise with their plight, but carrying on a long distance relationship with someone in a foreign war zone is really not high on my list of ambitions. Regardless, anyone who asks me my favourite colour is hard to take seriously. One asked me what my pet peeve was. Without thinking much about it, I said “People who won’t let me change lanes on the freeway.” He said, “Mine is all the wars in the world.” Oh dear. This was from a soldier in Afghanistan. There is no way to respond intelligently to that through IM chat—especially while trying to hold other conversations.
I had thought IM chats were good for sustaining already-existing relationships. That is, they come after you know someone, not before. Now I’m adjusting that perception to consider these more like an initial conversation with a stranger at a party. They aren’t so much “How is that new project coming along?” They are more like “Hi. I’m Jo. What brings you here?” I can accept that.
There must be a protocol for accepting or declining multiple chats, but until I know what it is I think I’ll just de-activate that feature. Trying to have multiple conversations at once is a little more than I can handle. In the end, I just told them all I was signing off and said “Good night.” They drove me away from the site.