Single White Nerd: My Life As An Unwitting Cover Model
Last week, a friend who I happened to meet on an online dating site sent me an email. “Congrats! You’re the spokesmodel for [site redacted].com! You man-whore!” Having not logged on in weeks, I had no idea what she was talking about. Until I went to the site in question and saw myself smiling at me from the homepage with a quote from my profile. What the &%^$?!
Look, clearly I don’t have problem letting people into my personal business. I have this blog, I run around LA telling stories about my childhood, my search for love, and the poor decisions I’ve made (because no one really wants to hear stories about good decisions that people make). So it might seem hypocritical of me to say this. But: seeing my picture up there, on the homepage of this dating site, made me feel exposed in a way that blogging and telling tales doesn’t.
I have control over the blogging and the stories. Sure, they might portray me as a callow moron who shouldn’t be allowed to run loose in polite society, but they’re my portrayals. Good or bad, I know what I’m doing. Sometimes.
Being unwittingly drafted into marketing an online dating site was completely different. And who the hell chooses a little bald dude with glasses as one of their cover-models? Countless sociological studies conducted by people with fancy letters after their name prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that those exhibiting lack of height and hair do poorly in the online dating world. Maybe the folks running this site had chosen to be progressive. Or maybe they were just drunk when they chose the photos. Either way, I wanted out.
“But it’s flattering,” you might say, “You’re the standard bearer for little bald dudes everywhere.” To which I say: Imagine that you meet someone online. You have a great first date and feel a real connection. They really made you feel special. A few days later, you log on to the site to return some messages and who’s staring at you from the log-in screen but the guy you had the great date with. What will you think?
If it were me, I would think that the guy on the front page got around. A lot. That he’s a dating machine. That he probably has the herp. Maybe I’d think twice about going out with him again. And I definitely wouldn’t feel special. Even if I knew that the person had nothing to do with their picture being on the front page of the site, I would think these things. Because rationality has nothing to do with perception.
The unspoken assumption when you’re dating, online or otherwise, is that the other person is dating around a bit. Just like interviewing for jobs–you keep prospects open until the position is filled. With my face plastered on the site, I felt that this unspoken assumption had suddenly become spoken. Loudly. Screamed: THIS GUY IS DATING A BUNCH OF PEOPLE. Which isn’t even particularly true in my case. Or maybe it is. None of your business, internet people!
By putting me on the homepage, the people at the site had taken over part of my online persona and narrative. I felt oddly violated. Anyway, I wrote to the site and asked them to take the picture down. No response so far. I suppose it could be worse. My picture could have ended up on a site promoting Preparation H or cures for erectile dysfunction. At the end of the day, they are far worse things than having your image used to promote a site dedicated to helping people have fun and find happiness.
But I really hope they take the image down. If anyone violates my privacy and tells the world that I’m a mad, crazy dating machine, I’d like it to be me.
featured image credit: bitzcelt