Anyone who has spent any time online dating knows these sites sometimes double as cesspools of shallowness and desperation. But Alli Reed, a Los Angeles-based columnist for Cracked.com, has really driven home that point. As part of a dual social experiment/exercise in disappointment, Reed created what she terms “the worst online dating profile ever” — and hoped against hope that no one would respond to it.
She invented a profile for a woman with the username “AaronCarterFan” and listed her (misspelled) interests as “desining a line of dog close with matching iphone cases” and “knockin the cups out of homeless ppls hands.” She claimed to live off the child support an ex still sends her for a pregnancy she faked. And her favorite music includes anything “thats not like all getto or redneck you know, or not like from some weird country without bathrooms.”
Basically, Reed wrote, she made sure to come across as “mean, spoiled, lazy, racist, manipulative, and willfully ignorant.” But the messages still poured in — more than 150 in the span of 24 hours.
“I created AaronCarterFan to see if there was a lower limit to how awful a human had to be before men would stop messaging her,” Reed said in an e-mail Monday afternoon. “As it turns out: nope.”
Like many of our contemporary social dilemmas, however, it’s hard to say which is to blame: human nature, or the Internet? I suspect, although I can’t say for certain, that even at a bar or dog park many people would be willing to overlook quite a bit to get with someone as attractive as Rae Johnston — Reed’s friend, who supplied the pictures for the fake profile. Likewise every study that finds online daters are shallow or racially biased or otherwise abhorrent: Is that really a commentary on online dating, or on dating in general? One of the most fundamental differences between the two, after all, is the primacy of algorithms on sites like OkCupid, which make behavior so much easier to track and quantify online than off it.
“Honestly, I’m not at all disillusioned with online dating. Or at least, I’m just as disillusioned with real-life dating,” Reed said. “It’s all terrible.”
There’s a happy ending to this story, though: While working on the experiment, Reed met a guy through her other, real OkCupid profile. They’re now dating. He is, she says, “the best person I know.”