Posts tagged Online Dating
Special kudos to JJ writer Ryan Torok for venturing in front of the camera to have Julie assess his online dating profile. It takes a brave man to do this for the sake of journalism…
What burning questions do you have about cyberdating? If you submit them here, I’ll try to snag some answers from Julie or another expert…
(A longer version of this piece appears at MyUrbanKvetch.)
Recently, Jews observed the holiday of Purim, which thematically centers on disguise, withheld information, and political intrigue. To commemorate these themes and celebrate the inner parts of our lives that we might not always feel comfortable expressing, Jews traditionally dress in costume. Some costumes are fun, or (taking a cue from secular cousin Halloween) present an excuse to sex it up a little, at least for the one day. But if the theme was exposure and honesty, my costume choice was clear: I would become the clichés that people write (over and over again) in their online dating profiles.
How would I do this? Could I wear “a little black dress and jeans and a t-shirt”? How would I visually manifest “working hard and playing hard”? Should I get a fake arm, throw it around my shoulder, and label with a sign that says “my ex – but don’t worry, he’s out of the picture”?
I started with the little black dress, and attached to the front of the dress a whiteboard of sorts – then let people add their own clichés via stickers. And then the public art/commenting phase began. Afterwards, I knew I needed to analyze this piece of public commentary for the audience of online daters and beyond, so that we can all learn to be ourselves and not clichés.
Alongside “work hard and play hard,” “I like a fancy night out, but also a night in,” “friends and family are important to me,” and “a perfect date is when you don’t want it to end”- as well as “looking for someone with a good head on his shoulders,” which was scribbled on a sticker in Hebrew – were several categories of clichés:
The Blame Game: These comments blame someone else for your presence on JDate, usually a parent or a friend. “I never do this,” “I can’t believe I’m on JDate,” “my friends made me join.” However you got here, you’re here and so is everyone else, so get over it.
“Duh” statements: “I love travel and sushi,” “I love to laugh,” “communication is the most important thing,” and “love to hike and bike.” They don’t really tell you anything about the person in question: it’s like saying “I’m a carbon-based lifeform who enjoys breathing oxygen and locomoting bipedally” (except less interestingly). And as for “my mom thinks I’m a catch,” we’re so glad for you, and are certain that this focus on your mother during a search for a life partner is not at all negatively influencing your results.
Yes, there was the Details article (which, by the way, was more about Jews in porn than it was about Jews being seen as desirable). And also some brouhaha about Jewish girls being called “Coasties” (to the delight of some and the chagrin of others). And now, the topic continues (sort of) with a segment from LoveNation about “The Desirability of Jews,” then rendered by one of the hosts as “the uprise in the desire of Jews,” and then, ultimately as “the uprising of Jewish people.”
Thomas: Over the course of time, I guess there’s been a growing popularity of Jewish people. Apparently, Jews are popular, I think it’s great. Obviously, it wasn’t like that back in the day with anti-Semitism and complete prejudice against Jewish people. And now, everyone loves them! Why?
Laurie: There is this term “JILF” that’s going around right now…I don’t know who started it, but I most recently saw it in Details. [explanation of JILFs] It’s because women are so career-oriented, also even for guys they are so family-oriented. And especially in Gen X and Gen Y, religion is becoming less important. But with people who are Jewish alot of them are pretty practicing, […]or if not practicing, their culture is still really important to them. And so family values is something that when religion isn’t important anymore gets left by the wayside, people don’t care about having kids, taking the legacy forward.
Thomas: Also, pop culture has had a huge influence on the uprise of Jewish people. Remember Seinfeld? Jerry was definitely Jewish. [lists additional Jewish comedians] And also Madonna.
Laurie: And Madonna has helped bring Judaism to the forefront also because of her cool Kabbalah thing that she has going on. She kind of brought everyone’s eye to it. […]
Thomas: When it comes to dating, there’s even a website for Jewish singles to get together, called JDate.
What? Jerry Seinfeld is Jewish? And there’s even a whole dating site for Jewish singles!! That’s crazy talk!
I love Leah‘s response to the comment about JILFs: “There’s this term ‘JILFs’ going around right now.” There’s also this term OMGWTF going around. (via Twitter)
I appreciate that the duo believed they were providing a vital service: a discussion of the purported rise in perceived desirability of Jews. And I know that it was probably extremely well-intentioned (with tips for how to date Jews and everything!). And with only a few shows to their history together, it’s possible that the hosts will develop better chemistry and more of a flow as they practice more. But the content of their advice in this video was less factually substantial than the “Christmas Song for Mormons” featured on Conan’s show – which took most of its information from Wikipedia. These two – both dating “experts” in their non-video lives – should have delved a bit deeper and more intelligently into the issues, instead of this shallow rehash of the fact that Jerry Seinfeld was Jewish, and that Madonna’s involved in Kabbalah (which, by the way, isn’t the same thing ask Judaism). The content’s style most reminded me of some of the English papers I read in college, written by friends who hadn’t quite finished the books necessary to have an intelligent discussion on the subject, but who had to turn in the assignment anyway.
Toward the end of the advice section, Thomas – who noted that some non-Jews pursuing Jews are just “going after a stable person who happens to be Jewish” – advises that those who court Jews should “NOT crack jokes about stereotypes of Jewish people in general: perceived to be really cheap, whether Jewish women are not good cooks, whatever stereotype you’ve heard, don’t mention them” because “they don’t appreciate it at all.”
I understand that the discussion of Jewish (or any) stereotypes is a sensitive subject and the hosts felt the need to tread lightly, but pointing out stereotypes to avoid (including one I’ve never heard of) is using those stereotypes. Can you imagine getting the advice, “If your date is Irish and orders a drink, try not to comment on it, because it’s a stereotype and they don’t appreciate it at all”? I think that trying to avoid calling your date “cheap” (whether he’s Jewish or not) is a bare minimum to strive for on dates. And if you can’t get through a date with a Jewish person without calling them cheap or calling attention to some other purportedly Jewish attribute – whether it’s true or not – then you probably shouldn’t be out in public to begin with.
There’s a lot of video drivel out there, and when it comes to dating sites, everyone’s out to make a buck or self-promote. But if you’re going to launch your own show on a topic as rich as dating (online and off), why not contribute something meaningful to the conversation?
Want another opinion? Check out the 16th Street J’s take, “JILFing Us Softly“.
The recently published JDATE is written by David Wong, except not really. Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, an editor of Cracked.com. The real name of the book? “John Dies @ the End” – abbreviated by the A/V Club (an offshoot of the Onion) as “JDATE.” This abbreviation fooled my Google Alert, and me, into thinking this book was about an online Jewish dating service.Here’s an excerpt from the A/V Club review:
Once upon a time, David was a boring video-store clerk without much of a social life. Then one day, his pal John got involved with that soy sauce that wasn’t really soy sauce, dragging David along for the ride. A number of suspicious deaths later, the two are fighting off monsters from another dimension and trying to come up with ways to explain an ever-increasing number of corpses to the authorities.
I don’t know what “soy sauce that wasn’t really soy sauce” is, but it does sound like Chinese food is involved. Throw in Christmas and a movie and it could be about Jews, I suppose…
If you’ve read this “JDATE,” please send us your reviews, and let us know if you’ve found it more or less compelling, hilarious or tragic than the group of online dating profiles you just read. Why? Because we care.
If asked, most people would say that they try not to judge people by their age. I was born in the 70s, and most of my friends were born in the 80s. Fine. No problems, except for when they refer to 80s music as “oldies,” which makes me wince a little.
If age is really relative, it might seem strange to establish age as a determinant in either dating or not dating a person. If theoretically, you’re only looking for someone to age 40, it makes no sense to reject someone just because he’s 41 – in all likelihood, he’s no different in terms of his ability to enjoy life and act young than any 40 year old is. And also, we all know people who act way older or younger than their actual calendar age, and so we know not to judge a book by how old its birth certificate says it is. (Yes, enjoy that mixed metaphor.)
But what’s happening online is something different. Everyone who fills out an online dating profile indicates a preferred age range for potential partners. And a woman in her thirties who indicates that she’s looking for a man in his thirties or forties will likely encounter that the men in their thirties and forties are looking for women in their twenties. Then comes the next part: men in their fifties contacting women in their thirties, even if that’s not the age range they’d prefer.
Of course, we’ve already said that age doesn’t matter. But is a woman still entitled to reject a man’s advances online if he’s over a certain age? After all, some of the men online are employing artificial age cutoffs themselves, mostly because it’s required by most dating services. Does this make her a judgmental person? Or is she just using her best judgment?