According to commercials, online dating is the hot new thing. Ads from OK Cupid, Match and the like all proclaim that if you go to their site and let their computers find the perfect partner for you, you're guaranteed a future of tapas, experimental cocktails and spontaneous dancing to be shared with someone who's gorgeous, funny, successful and free of baggage. No one of the Internet generation has had any trust in advertising at least since McDonald's put closeups of its burgers on TV ads. But the blatant lies being spewed out by people on the Internet, and particularly on e-dating sites, adds an inter-personal dimension to our tendency to deceive.
Some people are fighting back. A pair of Tumblrs that have been burning up my news feeds and timelines as of late are Sad Girls / Sad Guys on Dating Websites. They're your standard single-serving sites filled with great photos of people using questionable photos for their dating site profiles. They're funny as is, but I was more interested in what type of person would go to the trouble to create sites like these.
I emailed Kevin Best, the L.A.-based artist and possibly jaded e-dater who runs the sites to talk about how to snag a hot catch online and whether or not he's a total asshole. Oh, and if you were wondering, that is indeed him with the turtle pictured above.
So what's the impetus for running these sites? Is it a revenge thing?
Ha. No this isn't a Zuckerberg Facemash type scenario. I was just cruising through the site and I saw a particularly tragic picture of a girl all dressed up in a hotel room, clinging onto the curtains as if they were some accessory to her red carpet dress. (It's the first picture on sadokcgirls.) I texted the photo around, got some good responses and then decided to post it on Facebook. I was very surprised by how fired up everyone got over it. Guys loved it. Girls told me I was going to Hell. So I thought I might be onto something. Then I made the men's version to fight off all my female friends who were calling me a woman hater.
This just screams "DATE ME!" (literal screaming).
How long have you been an online dater?
Off and on for the last couple years
Is it filled with as many gorgeous, funny people, like the commercials suggest?
It's pretty much exactly like real life. Most of the women and men are unattractive. I'd say two in 10 are passably attractive. The real issues are once you find an attractive person, you need to figure out why they're online dating. If it's a hot girl that is tired of only douchebags hitting on her at bars, that's good. If it's a girl that has never moved out from her parents house, that's bad.
Where do you take dates? Like, can you see by their profile if they're worthy of sushi or just corn dogs?
At first I was wining and dining, looking up cool things to do and places to go. This can get very expensive, especially for an asshole like me who has more first dates than second and third ones. And you're also setting the bar high that you're the crazy LA guy that knows every cool place in the city. I've found it's much better to just grab a drink or two at a low key bar, and if you hit it off, then start rolling out the big guns.
What was the worst fake-out you've had? Someone who looked great online and turned out crazy or limbless.
I was supposed to meet this girl at, like, the Key Club or something to see a band. I got there and texted her that I was there. Then she called me, and I could see her walking down sunset towards me. She must have been twice as big as her pictures. I turned around and walked away. I think she saw me. She knew the jig was up.
What are people doing wrong to get on your sites? I mean, are these the profile pictures they're actually using?
I will admit, it's a little skewed on my sites. Usually these people have 3-10 pictures of themselves. I'm taking the saddest one from their profile, and making it represent them. These pictures also become inherently more sad on my shitty websites than they look on the actual dating websites. As far as what they are doing wrong, the main thing is awkwardness. They are trying so hard to project themselves as jetskiing marathon-running uber socialites, when it's so obvious they're sitting on the couch most Friday nights.
Why are your captions just hashtag jokes?
The hashtags help me make the pictures much sadder than they are. Take the picture of the girl standing awkwardly on her front lawn. When I add the hashtag #imissmom, it paints this tragic character who has lost her mother but must put on a brave face for the random men of the Internet. Is it fair? No. But it makes the pictures funnier, and I think it helps people feel better about laughing.
What should they be doing instead?
Well, the guys are a much easier fix. Put your shirts back on, and no working out photos. Girls need to stop taking bathroom photos, but also they need to stop taking pictures at the lamp posts at LACMA, the crappy wax museums, and random dinners with their friends. Everyone just needs to look less desperate. Try to make it look like you have a fun life, but also throw in some self deprecation. And smile.
The big question: Does this make you an asshole?
Here's the thing: everyone tells me that I'm going to Hell for these sites, but then these same people tell me it's funny. I think it's that sick part of human nature that wants to make fun of others. I'm not going so far as calling people fat or ugly or stupid, but I am painting them in a negative light. I don't think fatpeople.com would be very popular. That's just mean. I'm trying to poke fun at how awkward online dating can be, but also; look at how many people are doing it these days. I think more people were mad at me when I just posted the one girl on Facebook, now that she has almost a hundred compatriots, it seems less sad.
Now that you're running a site like this, do you consider yourself an e-playboy?
Not at all. I just consider myself an asshole who makes fun of people.