The Yao People of South Africa believed that taking a photograph of a person could steal his or her soul.
Iâ€™m glad they didnâ€™t stick around long enough for somebody to put that photo on Zoosk, drop a stupid catch-phrase underneath and then post it for every idiot within 30 miles to give it a thumbs-down on their iPhone while waiting in line at Qdoba.
They might have changed their mind.
A picture may say a thousand words, but why be so verbose? You could justify your entire existence in four, with a badly lit profile pic you took after six cocktails and a burrito as big as your head.
Iâ€™ve always thought online dating was vulgar. I hail from the pre-Propecia days when fat, acne-ridden troglodytes made up 95 percent of the Internet community. But online dating has made a tremendous resurgence.
Iâ€™m an outdoor cat. I like to hunt. Successful bachelors donâ€™t hunch over little glowing screens flipping through pictures of cute girls they wish they were dating. They are in demand and ready for action. Like Bruce Wayne (without the abs).
But the thing that was really on the Wayne was my dating life. Had everybody moved online? Perhaps the tables turned. Maybe the people out at the bars and clubs have now become the desperate losers, unable to evolve their dating habits to keep pace with the Digital Age.
Was this Dating Darwinism?
So where did I find love? Zoosk? Plenty Oâ€™ Fish? Craigâ€™s List casual encounters? There were so many options.
I chose Zoosk. It was pretty easy to create a profile and throw up some basic information.
The biggest challenge was next: deciding which pictures to use.
I tried to look cool. I tried not to look drunk. I tried to look like I had an amazingly active social life by choosing the best pictures from the last decade of my life.
Now all I had to do was sit back and let the girls come to me. This online dating thing, I thought, was pretty sweet.
No girls came to me.
Just like in the real world, I was going to have to get pro-active. This was starting to seem like a lot of work. At least it was work I could do in my underwear while watching Police Academy 5. I surveyed the prospects.
Psychologists have found that when the individual is given no choices, it leads to depression (like monogamy). When the individual is given too many choices (like Brad Pitt) it leads to severe anxiety. No wonder so many celebrities are overdosing on Xanax. How do you narrow down the field?
I decided that my best bet was to scroll through the cutest girls and send them a form letter. It would save time pretending to actually be interested in what they wanted.
â€œHi (whatever your name is)! I think you are really (adaptive compliment), and I love the fact that you are interested in (whatever that may be), Iâ€™m totally into that too! Iâ€™d really like to meet you (if you havenâ€™t gained thirty pounds since taking that picture).â€
I got few bites. But isnâ€™t this the way things happen in the real world? How intimate and personal can you get from a few pictures and a life youâ€™ve invented just to get dates online? Is there anything genuine about it?
My friend said I had it all wrong.
â€œE-Harmony, dude. Itâ€™ll match you with your real potential mates. You have to be totally honest when you fill out your info.â€
Honesty? It sounded crazy. I liked it. I started an account and filled out my information. I held nothing back. No pretense. I was exactly who I was in real life. I got a match back within 24 hours.
I was finally going to meet my soul mate.
Dear E-Harmony User:
Weâ€™ve found you a match! Their name is:
Maybe not. But Iâ€™m sure it wouldâ€™ve been a good relationship. Halfway through the survey I got bored and checked out videos of skateboarding squirrels. My attention span was a reflection of how useful I found online dating. Itâ€™s not my thing.
Call me a dinosaur. I may be extinct soon, but Iâ€™m going to have some fun while Iâ€™m still a viable member of the species for reproduction.
I grabbed my coat and headed to the Bristol, where a cute girl with a dark bob and ruby red lipstick was sitting alone at the bar. It looks like this dinosaur still had some fertile mating grounds to graze, despite rumors of his impending extinction.
I can confidently attest to the Yao tribe that taking a photograph wonâ€™t steal your soul. Putting it online and waiting around for somebody to find you, however, will.
Youâ€™ll find me at the bar.
Contact R. Chase at YourVoice@voice-tribune.com.