Just about all of my friends seem to be involved in happy, committed, long-enduring relationships. In some circles, I’m one of the few single stragglers. It doesn’t bother me that much, but when the conversation inevitably turns to the trials and tribulations of we single-folk, I sometimes want to tear my hair out. Since they’ve been cosy together for quite some time, my coupled-up pals want to know what it’s really like out there in the dating scene. “Bleak,” is usually the word that comes to mind. I don’t say this simply because every OkCupid date I’ve endured has not only made me cringe and also earned each of my dates a nickname (e.g. Drug Rug, Forrest Gump fan, and Sneaker Pimp), but because dating in the digital age just seems like a bunch of smoke, mirrors and blurred boundaries.
I’m pretty sure people still meet for the first time in real life sometimes, but more and more people are turning to the world wide web to seek a snuggle buddy and that means an alluring profile pic is essential. Ok, fine, we all get that. It makes sense to put your best face forward, so to speak, to reel ‘em in with your perfectly positioned, self-snapped shot. We’re all (likely) guilty of it at some point, it’s the way of our modern world, it’s acceptable. However, when we get too carried away with the photographic self love, I see an issue. Even if you initially met your love interest IRL, chances are cell phones and selfies have been a significant part of your courtship.
Since we’re all glued to our smartphones, it stands to reason that we use them as a tool in our quest to procure dates. Not only do all dating websites boast their own mobile apps, our phones are our cameras and with us 24/7. That means there’s plenty of opportunity to snap a sassy selfie and flirtatiously release it to the world instantly. People abuse this luxury and sometimes it gets weird.
Exhibit A: Brody
Brody is a cute dude living in Los Angeles. Brody met a pretty girl at a Starbucks and successfully scored her phone number. Brody was sitting pretty...until he blew it by sending her this unsolicited video selfie:
She responded by sharing it with her friend, DJ Ben Roc, who then posted it on Instagram inspiring an avalanche of parody videos all aimed at ridiculing the Brode-man. Talk about your all-time backfires! Poor Brody was just trying to add a little intrigue though he seems to have misjudged his audience. Chances are, Brody isn’t the first person to think a video-selfie was a good idea, he’s just the most famous for it.
I decided to conduct a poll of my single friends to find out what their experiences have been like dating in the Selfie Age. Almost every single one of them, male and female (and including me), have been on the receiving end of an unsolicited selfie. Some were harmless, some were scandalous. Their reactions to these photos vary somewhat.
For one of my female friends, it was a major turn off. She received an unsolicited “glamour shot” style selfie from a guy she’d been chatting with via OKC. They had never met in person when an image of his face suddenly appeared on her phone. She felt confused, and then, when he asked her to return the favor, she felt uncomfortable and pressured to respond. She chose not to. Later, he sent her a photo of his legs/crotch with the TV on in the background. It’s unclear what this photo was attempting to do but it succeeded in ensuring she would discontinue their correspondence and never meet him in person.
I asked her if she would ever be into receiving photos like this from a guy. “I would be if I already had something going with the guy and was digging him,” she said. “But not unsolicited, especially before meeting!”
My male friend had a similar experience. After meeting a gal on OkCupid, she began sending him unsolicited photos of her..ahem...anatomy. He wasn’t necessarily bummed by the visuals, but the immediacy of their arrival, before they’d ever met in person, really weirded him out. According to him, “it actually wasn’t that much of a turn on to get these images. I would have happily met her without the pics.” It sounds like both women could benefit also from Erin Gloria Ryan’s advice in her July Jezebel article “Should You Send A Lady A Dick Pic? A Guide For Men.”
Meanwhile, another pal showed me an image his friend received from a guy. The guy had taken the time to photoshop a picture of himself split screen with a picture of Patrick Dempsey. Across the bottom of the photo he etched, “McDreamy.” His not-so-subtle attempt to draw a comparison between himself and a celebrated television star was, unsurprisingly, not well received.
But the pics keep on coming. This is now, apparently, how we do things. We “introduce” ourselves through photos and sometimes we forcibly insert ourselves into other’s lives with unsolicited ones. And when something like that becomes the norm, we shouldn’t be surprised that we have to see things like this:
But hey it’s not so bad if you’re prepared for it, I guess. From now on don’t fool yourself. The dating game isn’t just about finding common ground for conversation or learning which pick up lines actually work. It’s now about virtual visual stimulation as well. And I guess that’s ok, I suppose it’s the wave of the future. But listen, I think you’re real pretty and I dig the confidence, but please, use a little discernment before you send that unsolicited selfie. Or, if you don’t want to end up like poor Brody, stick to Snapchat for your flirty self-indulgence.
Do you have a cringe-worthy selfie story? We’d love to hear all about it.