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Friday, May 26, 2006

Those Wacky Personal Ads

OK - I'll admit it. Since as far back as 1980, I've dated a few women met through newspaper and online ads. Some turned out to be long term friends - one or two quickly alchemized into teeth grating altercations - results which probably don't vary much in comparison to your average street encounter. But although age and general wear and tear have pretty much led to abandonment of the dating scene, I still watch the chaotic goings on in the singles world - perhaps as a vicarious reminder of misplaced youth. And perhaps it doesn't help that a friend has been badgering me about her ongoing parade of online romances.

So, due to a lack of more engaging entertainment, I occasionally peruse the singles ads at a popular online site. Don't really know why, as I have no intention of replying to even the most compelling of ads, so it must be due to a morbid curiosity concerning the interpersonal relations of others. My original foray into this dark nether world of Stranger vs. Stranger began with a small ad placed in Atlanta's Creative Loafing. I was 21, owned a home, had a regular job, did volunteer work, and kept busy with a variety in interests, but had no luck whatsoever in meeting appropriate single women. My first encounter resulted in a decades long friendship, while subsequent encounters varied wildly. But even the worst of the online engagements was preferable to the matchmaking attempts of friends whose intervention generally resulted in assaults by knife-wielding meth addicts and drunken troublemakers and their dysfunctional families.

With this in mind, I feel the need to comment on this modern presentation of potential mates as being tantamount to browsing a Lee Valley catalog for a new power tool. Page after page of souls searching for that perfect companion. A brief sales pitch, a few photos, and a price - yes, there is always a price. For although I can Blog at numerous sites till my fingers bleed, sell old cars and household goods on Craig's List, and post messages world wide in thousands of Usenet groups - all for free - that personal ad is going to cost you anywhere from $30 - $350 a month.

Yes, boys and girls, Cyber-Pimping is Big Business. And that sleazy Neil Clark Warren Co. and his emotional blackmail tactics elicit nothing but severe nausea and disgust - non-stop big-buck television ads which parade their alledgedly satisfied customers onto the glowing screens of lonely, desperate singles across America. You're not lonely or desperate? That's OK - the carefully crafted psychological propoganda insures that the weak willed or insecure will succumb to their hollow brand of electronic matchmaking and associated line of self-help relationship books - all for a tidy sum.

But those ads! Each unique - a tiny looking glass into the private lives of a vast cross section of our civilization. Some earnest, some hilarious, some sad, and some just plain scary. But the gist of this musing are the photographs. The content of these submitted photos runs the gamut - faces, bodies, houses, flower and vegetable gardens, boats, land, cars, pets, hobbies, and even a few provocative shots that leave little to the imagination. Now while I can surely appreciate the forthright nature of this gesture, and can certainly see how this might save one from the shock of discovering that third navel at a most inopportune moment, it leaves me with the vacuous feeling that our society is devoid of all elements of romance and mystery - that nothing is immune from being packaged and sold to the highest bidder.

My parting observations are that I miss the desired age group by at least 3 years, and that the negligee pictures are too small.

Have a great long weekend!


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