Deactivating and deleting, oh yeah

Shortly after I broke up with my bf, I put a profile up on an online dating site. I had no idea what to expect, as I’d never done this kind of thing before. But a friend of mine has done it for years, and he recommended I give it a try.

I figured that at the very least it would distract me, and perhaps make me feel better about myself. And right there, with those two reasons, I sealed my fate with doom in terms of online dating. It did distract me, to be sure. But not in a good way. I found the attention overwhelming, and the responsibility of keeping up, dealing with the numerous jerks/assholes/idiots, and even communicating with the few decent men was actually making me feel worse about myself and my life.

I deleted my account exactly one week after putting it up, mainly because I realized I’m not ready for dating in general. But I’ve also discovered online dating is not for me. It made me feel exposed and unsafe. Even some of the decent guys (the ones who wrote in full sentences and seemed to have actually read my profile) were way too aggressive. I sympathize with mens’ position on these sites – I know they put up with a lot of bullshit too, though probably of an entirely different kind.

Here are some of the lovely exchanges I had and my responding feelings in italics:

  • A quadriplegic man asked me to have babies with him after an exchange of a few messages (sad)
  • A guy dismissed me with “eh” when I told him I was not interested in doing the dirty in public (eye roll)
  • Several men implied that I had no right to set up the boundary of wanting to talk for awhile online before meeting because even putting up a profile was suggestive that I was “available” (so just me being a woman means I should be available to you when/how you want? ANGER)
  • A kid nearly half my age asked me to cuddle and smooch with him (okay, I won’t deny this was flattering – but I was surprised how many younger men/boys contacted me)
  • A guy who lives a hundred miles away said he didn’t mind driving up to see me when I told him I was looking for people in my own town (you would drive a hundred miles just to have coffee with me? Really?? And then what would you say to me when I thanked you for the coffee and told you to drive on back home? Scared)

Okay, enough of that rant. Like I said, I know enough really good guys who do online dating, and met a couple myself in the one week I did it to know it’s tough for them, too.

My ultimate feeling about online dating, though? It really freaked me out.

After deleting my account, I felt tremendous relief. Not just because I had removed something from my life that made me far too vulnerable to bad things in a number of ways, but because I no longer had all that contact with people. It was too much for an introvert like me. Even messages in an inbox can feel like an invasion of my space and sanity (such as it is at the moment).

Then you know what I did next, after deleting my online dating profile? I deactivated my Facebook account.

I have no idea why. I really don’t. I just felt like I should. There has been a lot of discussion on the Internet, or at least the small corner where I hang out, about compulsive, addictive use of technology, too much screen time, to much me me me with all the Instagram photos, too much lying about our lives by only posting the attractive stuff. None of that resonates with me. Personally, posting happy, positive things on Facebook was a major way I celebrated the good things in my life – it was akin to practicing gratitude. Sure, I did check the stream compulsively, but people have always been attracted to distractions. Facebook is just the latest iteration. Is technology changing us and our culture and even our brains in some qualitative way? Probably. But it’s the nature of things to change.

None of those reasons were why I deactivated. I just did, suddenly and without really thinking about it. And it felt good. I can always reactivate at some point, but for now I have ejected a bunch of people from my headspace – people whose headspace I’m sure I rarely made an impression on.

Like many things in my life right now, this is an experiment whose outcome I cannot predict. I’ll do an update later if it brings me any great revelations, but I have a feeling there won’t be anything like that. Just a bit more peace, maybe.

The most important thing for girls is how attractive they are

I’ve been having an angsty week and that’s where this comes from. I’d still think the same things if I weren’t so angsty, just probably not as angrily.

The FDA anti-smoking campaign pisses me off. Not the anti-smoking part, obviously. Its implicit message is what gets to me. My opinion on the matter is based on the several examples in articles I read this morning about the new ads they have created. I don’t doubt there are more than just the two, but I think it’s significant that these are the ads being featured – whether that is because they are the ones FDA has put out as examples, or the ones news media has latched on to, I don’t know.

The ads feature young, attractive girls who are given old-lady wrinkles, because smoking makes you age prematurely.

And we all know that old people are ugly. Especially if they are female.

And we all know that it is healthy and morally right to tell young girls that their worth lies in how attractive they are to men.

Yep.

Good work FDA.

And by the way, these kinds of ads don’t work. We’ve been through this before with the “this is your brain on drugs” fried egg commercials. If your goal is to get young people to stop smoking, you have badly misjudged motivations for smoking and the way the human brain works (and the multiplicity of causes of premature aging in your target group, poor teens). If your goal is to help teens who are already addicted, you have badly misjudged addiction (especially sad after the news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death this weekend).

However, if your goal is to reinforce basing the value of women on how pleasing they are (look) to men, then congratulations. You’ve just spent $115 million (or at least a portion of it) making sure teen girls know what really matters in life.

The patriarchy thanks you.