As I reported at the end of Part 1, I was flattered to receive the first response to my profile and photo within about five minutes of posting them to pof.com and OurTime: “Great profile,” it read. “I'd love to hear from you.”
In less than another five minutes, three or four more arrived with, word for word, the same message.
So much for preening over my scintillating prose and gorgeous photo. Obviously, there are canned responses users can choose by checking a box. Hey, fellas. I made a reasonably good attempt to write a profile that would give you a small idea of what interests me. Couldn't you do the same?
Apparently not. Over the length of this experiment (less than two weeks), other canned responses arrived including “I like your photo” and “I saved you as a favorite.” Again and again and again those same messages and nothing more.
I tried to follow the attached links (not as easy as it should be) to find out about these guys who may or may not have wanted to hear from me.
One was 27 from North Carolina. (Recall that I'm in Oregon, age 73.) Another was 43 from Texas. A third said he was was 49 in Indiana and the fourth was in his late 60s, lived in Oregon but in a town that is 150 miles away. Come on. Why would you think I would drive that far for a coffee date?
At this point I didn't know if these men were idiots or if the services were broken.
It got worse. Every day each of the services sent messages, the most frequent being: “We have 12 (or however many) matches for you.”
Nowhere in those emails or on the websites could I find an explanation of what a “match” is – a fairly important question since the majority of the matches from one service lived in other states and covered a 40-year age spectrum.
This, of course, led to my confusion about how to tell the difference between a response from a living, breathing human and an algorithm. I still don't know.
When I clicked the link in the “match email” from one service, the website informed me that I had to pay a fee to see the names and profiles of the matches.
Uh, no thank you. Moving right along...
In the 10 days I could tolerate this experiment, among the 70 or 80 messages and “matches,” there were two men near my age who lived in my vicinity and responded with what seemed to be real messages. Sort of.
“Let's meet for coffee in (name of nearby town)” wrote one for three or four days in succession even though I had clicked the “no thank you” button.
The other, who said he was retired, wrote a dozen excruciatingly long and detailed paragraphs about his former middle-management career, bad spelling and poor grammar included.
In my own searches around the sites for men in my age range who live close enough that it would not be a trek if we wanted to meet, there was not a single one.
Certainly my genuine disinterest contributed to the difficulty. First, I clicked past anyone who listed a religion; that eliminated well more than half. I also ditched the ones who hadn't bothered to comb their hair or trim a beard for the photo; you'd be surprised how many unkempt old men there are on these websites.
A large number of those who remained mentioned they are hunters. Uh, no guns around if I'm doing the choosing. And as much as I like the Oregon coast, it's a two-hour drive from here so we wouldn't be doing much walking hand-in-hand at sunset, fellas. Certainly you could come up with something better than that.
Oh, and almost all profiles I read of men in my age range assured me they are “young at heart” or “look younger than their years.” One even specified that he looks six years younger than his age. Is that so? Exactly?
What I did not see even once was a mention of books, movies, music or even food and wine.
You can accuse me of being inflexible and you might even be correct. I just see it as flunking internet dating which isn't much of a minus in life.
This was one of the hardest things – probably the hardest - I have done for this blog in all the 10 years I've been writing it and not because I didn't really want a date.
It is because these were the worst designed, most poorly built websites I have visited that are not crappy click-bait sites.
But actually, they ARE crappy click-bait sites with ugly advertising plastered all over; no attempt at attractive or usable design; no organization; links that appear to be one thing but lead only to to pop-ups demanding more money for different services; and the need to navigate through half a dozen of such pages before getting to where you thought you were going but have now forgotten.
And you know for sure you are on a cheap-jack, untrustworthy website when you cannot find a way to cancel membership.
I had to use Google to search the web for instructions on how to unsubscribe from OurTime so I would not be charged for another month. Even with help, it was difficult.
It wasn't much easier on POF. Although they didn't have my credit card information so withdrawing was not as crucial, my account couldn't be deleted until I was forced to answer a battery of questions about why I wanted to leave, how many dates I'd had, whether I'd gotten married, etc. etc.
There's that old saying about getting what you pay for meaning, of course, that free won't get you much. But the better website of these two (which is not an endorsement) was the free one, POF.
Yes, there were constant popups hawking me to pay for an upgrade and/or additional services and the navigation didn't make much sense. But those things are wrong with the other, paid service too.
Bunches of commenters on Part 1 of this series said they met their spouses on such internet dating sites so I suppose I am the outlier. Or maybe not. Most said you've been married now for many years so perhaps the websites were better then.
Me? I'm done. The experience on these sites is embarrassingly bad, the websites are unattractive, unwieldy and unprofessional, and I wonder if that is reflected in the quality of users they get – the ones I saw were far from interesting, let alone impressive enough to bother with.
Or maybe, as I've heard from single women of all ages all my life, it's just that the good ones are taken.
Overall, I'm glad I'm not looking for a mate or even a date.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Colonoscopy