Taking a quick break from writing all of those mini-reviews for a second.
Almost a year ago, I wrote a conclusion I'd come to on online dating. I'd only been at it for a couple of weeks, yet despite having not tested time with it, I don't think it's fully objective. A lot of it is based on the most negative non-personal ideas - that the Internet is a predatory place and girls on there are highly careful and selective and judgmental because of largely just that, above all else. My own character or image wasn't really evaluated or taken into consideration when I wrote it.
Yes, the Internet can be a predatory place. People have a lot of free reign on it, more or less. There is little difficulty in pretending to be someone else, or being manipulative. However, there are places and resources online available to virtually everyone save for those that are undoubtedly, severely illegal, such as child pornography - and even that, for those so inclined, isn't absolutely inaccessible unfortunately. I factor in severity by the way because streaming and sharing/downloading pirated TV and music and films online is illegal yet a lot easier to do - and the consequences aren't nearly as severe as accessing or distributing child porn. But in the big picture, if you want to chat on a sex site, you can; if you want to find a place for people who share your sexual fetish, you can; if you want to do online dating, you can, and there are even specific sites for those wanting to narrow it down by religion or busy work schedule or country or even professionalism. Forget the Internet on your PC or laptop, remember all the thousands of smartphone apps that do all the same things. So while the predatory nature of the Internet still rings true, it can't be an all-around fact that's as severe and problematic as I suggested, because the online world is already impossibly huge and rich in nature to provide for just about everyone to begin with.
Since first trying it out, I have never gotten further than a few messages back and forth with a couple of girls. I fully attributed this to the idea above. I didn't particularly entertain the idea that maybe I had anything to do with it. There's no doubt that it's mostly me, if not entirely me. There's two big issues I find with online dating altogether, and one positive thing:
-Words. How the hell do you write to a total stranger on the Internet to say you like them without sounding creepy or weird or in violation of unspoken boundaries? It might be nice to hear someone on the street compliment your hair or your eyes, but the same stock light-mannered expressions - "you look nice today," "I like your smile," "Nice hair," etc. - they can probably get tiring to listen to over and over, though they're the only moderate things to say to a stranger without sounding suspicious in some way. How do you sound unique and different and not creepy or like anyone else - timid and boring? A lot of girls will write "say something real, no "what's ups" It's a tricky thing to wrestle with.
-Image. It's likely that how you look in a photograph is the only way you have ever looked in your life. No other picture will show you in the precise - and I mean exact - expression and manner as the first. No two pictures are exactly the same, no matter how many selfies you take of yourself; a human face is capable of thousands of expressions that are almost always changing in the moment, so your picture is only capable of showing you in one tiny sliver of light. Often, it never comes close to doing your actual image justice. How can you derive a personality out of a static image of someone? I don't take very nice portraits. I look pissed off or angry or sad. I'm not any of those things. I never was. I look crazy if I smile too much, so getting it right means trying to smile very gently and naturally, which just makes my face look posed and unnatural. So I never really look myself, because that's my at-rest face in that one-set expression. It doesn't stay that way of course - like any other face, it changes. Unfortunately, free dating sites almost entirely rely firstly on pictures of subjects, using an image to create the first impression or attraction, which makes the process highly superficial because the image is all you get at first. The image being of a person who doesn't really look like he/she does in that image, and never will again. This superficiality goes both ways: I click 'no' or swipe left if I don't find a face attractive, or if it's attractive but not quite there. Or if the girl's name is too similar to mine ("Justine"), or if her picture is a huge group of people so I can't tell who is who. I'm highly judgmental. Too many girls post pictures of themselves trying to take their picture with a cell phone in a mirror; the result is a picture of them looking at their cell phone. The personality I get from that is a narcissistic one, yet that's probably not that true. I bet that if I were to walk into a room full of these girls, a lot of them would look twice as attractive as they did because their faces are actually moving, changing expression, and with that movement comes personality and character and body language/temperament. From static, black and white to a colorful movement of expression. I can hear their voices, their demeanor, their mannerisms, everything.
The one positive thing is that if you've been successful at piquing someone's interest, if they've decided your picture is cute or attractive or shows the right character (even though said shown character is a minuscule sliver of the actual thing) and if they found your compliments or choice of expression somehow creative or different enough to be interesting, you have the opportunity to establish a dialogue that proves your demeanor and voice in an easy, safe environment. There's no butterflies or awkwardness, no potential for verbal or physical mistakes like there may be on a first-time date. There isn't nearly as much pressure. You can talk about yourself and ask questions after thinking them through via your keyboard and a web page rather than stuttering through spoken language in front of him/her. If that works out, you can move to texting and other modes of communication, and ultimately to actual face-to-face dating. It gives you the opportunity to lay yourself out as best as you can without the pressure of social constructs and settings that come with first dates.
Unfortunately, you have to work around the superficiality of the static image and in having a first-time message be witty and interesting without overstepping yourself and/or giving rise to suspicion first, and that is very, very tricky. You like someone you see online, you want them to like you, so you'll be genuine - it's just so difficult getting past the judgments cast upon you from their perspective. No "what's up?" They get that every day. No "I think you're very cute and I like your ass." That's too far between complete strangers. "I, uh, think you're pretty, and I like dancing as well, and, yeah, I read your profile and liked what it said, I can be an animal lover too, eh?" No, that probably comes off as creepy or weird. In the end, it gives wonder to whether the two disadvantages I talked about above are worth the third advantage. Maybe it's better just to be out in the world and be social with people? Go out and try new things and meet people that way? After all, the more you do that, the more fulfilling life is, and the better you probably are at just talking to people and being openly friendly and confident, nullifying that one advantage of the online world thanks to all that practice. Girls can judge you by your live personality and demeanor no static image can fully display, and the confidence and interest actually shows. No need to write an awkward first message - they've already seen what you're like via body language that that's enough.
That's my real (and final) conclusion on online dating.