Although once reserved for those living in parents’ basements, she-males and other lungfish on the shore of the dating pool, today’s Internet is as active a singles scene as Thirsty Thursday at O’Shannigan’s; and the odds of catching an STD to falling in love is similarly 100:?. Thus, however unlikely it might have been a few years ago, the modern lover can now embrace this new romantic vehicle without embarrassment.
The new online dater must first choose their network. Note that dating/social websites such as eHarmony, match.com, okcupid and in many ways Facebook are really just different versions of the same thing: a tool for diving into the egocentric abyss of someone else’s bloated self-image. MySpace, of course, remains unique in its ability to connect Walgreen’s employees with sex-offenders. Online role-playing games like World of Warcraft are another option, though pursuing a romantic encounter during a raid is not only bizarre; it’s dangerous. Letting DPS rise above tank damage because you got distracted by ElvenNite’s sexy new Infinity Blade would give Illidan the upper hand and likely get everyone killed.
Whatever the setting, though, decorous online dating is conducted in clearly delineated stages. The steps mirror those of an actual date, yet end where a physical date begins.
Stage 1: Greeting
For the creatively challenged, “Hi” is the best subject line for the first overture. Like a faux-hawk, it is as boring as it is non-threatening. The more intrepid suitor may be well served by “Pinch yourself, this is happening” or “Help, I’m trapped in your computer.”
Keep the body of the first message short and sweet. If you have met the person before or have a mutual friend, mention that. If not, compliment their counterfeit online profile and ask an open-ended question to get them talking. Do not pretend to know them, say you are new in town, ask them to check out your pics or claim to represent a modeling agency. Be like a 8OI-<: short and sweet.
Stage 2: Let’s Get Out of Here
Any social website is akin to a noisy bar. One must constantly compete for attention amongst pokes, comments, wall posts, lamentations of women, pings, flaming arrows, photographs, statuses, applications, personality tests, attacking hordes and ridiculous causes. After brief but successful flirting, take the correspondence somewhere private, such as a personal email account or cell phone. This allows you to jealously e-sequester the object of your affection and move toward Stage 3 unfettered.
Stage 3: Close
To close out an online date is to take it from the webiverse into the physical world. Unfortunately, many lie about their pulchritude through speciously flattering pictures and profile descriptors (e.g., “average” body type does not include kankles). This makes a clean exit strategy of utmost importance when planning the first real date. Ensure the meeting takes place at a location with windows and conduct a flyby before entering. A cursory review from a distance allows for a quick and painless getaway should HotBody85 turn out to be TrainWreckHundredsWounded71.
Stage 4: Dating
Consult the remainder of TLMRIS.
EXCEPTION: If you do not wish to transfer a virtual relationship into the material world, Stage 4 becomes “Kill Yourself.”