Like everyone else I grapple with that weird wrestling match between who I am (a superficial jerk who makes assumptions based only on pixels, apparently) and who I feel I ought to be (an enlightened gentlemen).Everyone’s smiling and happy, having fun with lots of friends – often while travelling – showing some skin, and holding a cocktail, pet, pal or instrument.Sometimes, after clicking on hundreds of photos, I begin to see patterns emerging (my male friends admit to having similar observations).
Her face was obscured behind curly blonde hair and oversized sunglasses. In that one I’m standing barefoot in my living room, wearing a T-shirt and jeans, as I do almost every day.The photos led me to believe she was upbeat, stylish and fun. “I thought that photo of you was so funny,” she told me.“Ah, the skeleton…” I said. I picked it because it felt the most like me (and yes, it was taken in that too-brief period during which I was doing lots of push-ups). All that time I had been so busy overthinking everyone else’s photos, that I hadn’t even taken a second look at my own.In reality, I’ve found that my impressions of a woman’s photos only sometimes match up with her personality.The one with the big smile turns out to be depressed; the one with the scowl turns out to be lovely.
As a child, Mum taught me not to make judgments based solely on appearances… This is because it’s human nature and also because the words people use to describe themselves – laid-back, fun-loving, etc – all blur together, while photos can trigger an instant reaction: cool, hot, scary obnoxious, adorable. However, on a dating site I’m not seeing someone as she naturally exists: I’m seeing the pic that she picked. The majority of women’s online dating pictures make them seem awesome.
On a dating site, the first, second and third things everyone looks at – whether male or female, but probably especially if you’re male – are the photos. Just like in real life, I see someone and can’t help but feel attracted to her or not – and often I’ll even imagine an entire story: A voice, a personality, a date, sex, a life together – based on nothing but a blurry selfie.