You’ll never guess who I’m picking on today. Then again, maybe you will. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m fond of letters written
by to Billy Graham because the advice Graham gives isn’t always the most useful and my secular/humanist/atheist response tends to address the issue better. So, here’s the letter.
Several months ago, I met someone on one of those Internet social media sites, and I really thought he cared about me and things might go somewhere. But when I tried to meet him in person, he cut me off. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten into this, but where can I turn to find a true friend? I’m tired of being so lonely. — V.J.
Cut you off in traffic, or took one look at you in the light and made a bee-line for the door rather than greet you like a human being? Some people are shitheads, no doubt about it. A guy might come across like a saint when you talk to him on-line. He’ll seem like an intelligent, engaging, inviting, fantastic do-gooder in every email. Then you meet him in person and discover he’s an arrogant know-it-all still living with his ex-wife, sponging off her disabilities cheque and won’t keep a job for more than a few weeks because he “gets bored easily.” That happened to me once. I went all the way to England to meet that guy after chatting/emailing off and on for a couple years. Good thing I also went over there to work for a while because otherwise it would have been a pretty shitty end to my holiday.
In the years since I’ve tried other relationships with varying degrees of success and calamity, none of which I really want to elaborate on. Suffice it to say, dating seems like a freaking minefield. I don’t know how people get through it and arrive on the other side married. No idea. I think any dating lessons I should have learned as a teenager got missed because I was too busying reading alone in my room. The people I did have a crush on rarely learned of it and the few who did did not respond positively. Rejection is spirit-crushing.
I’ve crushed a few spirits in my time, too.
I’ve got an online friendship going with a fellow I shall call Dexx (because he calls himself Dexx) and he and I often write back and forth about where I’m at in the relationship game. Currently, I appear to be in the penalty box on account of dumping a guy who was pretty into me. I’d decided that feelings were not mutual enough to prolong things beyond the three week mark. Kinder to be honest, in my opinion, even when the truth hurts. Why pretend I’m more interested than I actually am? Better he be free to find someone who’ll really dig him and that frees me up to try someone else at some point. But enough about that.
Before I get to Billy Graham, I’m going to quote from someone else’s dating experience. Jezebel writer, Alyssa Bereznak, met someone via OK-Cupid and rejected him on account of his passion for Magic: the Gathering.
The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums comparing him to Chuck Norris! This guy isn’t just some professional who dabbled in card games at a tender age. He’s Jon motherfucking Finkel, the man who is so widely revered in the game of Magic that he’s been immortalized in his own playing card.
Just like you’re obligated to mention you’re divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn’t someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles?
He’d started young but was still wildly active with the game and him admitting this was enough to make her rethink ever having another date with him.
judging people on shallow stuff is human nature; one person’s Magic is another person’s fingernail biting, or sports obsession, or verbal tic. No online dating profile in the world is comprehensive enough to highlight every person’s peccadillo, or anticipate the inane biases that each of us lugs around. There’s no snapshot in the world that can account for our snap judgments.
Okay, but here’s a question: would her response have been the same if it had turned out he was champion of a mainstream game like Scrabble or Chess instead? Would she have said, “Wow! Impressive! Tell me more!” or would she have said, “God, you’re obsessed with a stupid game, get gone!”? She notes that there isn’t room in a profile to list everything, which is true (my POF profile has gone through more than a few rewrites and no, I’m not telling you what my username is). He did himself a bad turn by not mentioning something that big. That’s huge. If he wants to be taken seriously, then he has to feel confident announcing his accomplishment in his profile so he can wind up with a girl who’ll appreciate it far more than Ms. Bereznak apparently does. I don’t think it’s at all fair to liken his interest in that game to nail biting or tics. One you do for fun, the others are evidence of bad habits and anxiety. World champion, for fuck’s sake. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
So, in terms of the letter writer, some very shallow thing led to the potential date doing a runner, just like my shallow opinion of my most recent ex makes me seem like a horrible wretch of a human being. My advice is, don’t let a bad run of cards stop you from ever playing the game again. Try someone else. Try somewhere else. Find a club in town to join if you can. Take a class. Go to church and get involved there if that’s to your liking. Volunteer somewhere. Try speed dating. Try whatever you can think of to meet more people. That’s mostly why I joined the Freethinkers and Skeptics – not because I hoped I’d get a date out of it, but because I was tired of only spending time around the ladies I worked with and wanted a wider group of local friends.
So finally I get to Billy Graham’s response and I’m sure you already know what it is. She must remember that Jesus already counts her as a friend so she really ought to friend him back and make friends with all his other friends while she’s at it, like on God+ or Jesusbook. And she should go to church. That’s all he gives for advice, yet it takes him four paragraphs to do it. Tsk.