Online dating is an addictive pursuit. Like most other addictive pursuits (gambling, crystal meth, Pringles), it is a blatant waste of time. You might as well spend your days enumerating your body hairs. And yet it’s pretty near impossible to go cold turkey.
Spare a thought for the heavy Pringles user. He curses the day he ever popped, such is his inability to stop. One misguided decision at one wild party, and six months later he wishes he’d stuck with the Kettle Chips. His home is a kerbside den constructed from Pringles tubes. His breath is so redolent of sour cream and onion they’ve had to block off the whole street.
Sometimes he wakes up in a cold, oleaginous sweat. He weeps at the rolls of lard that swaddle his body. He weeps at his failed relationships, and at the fact he was fired from work for scoffing Pringles in front of the CEO. But above all, he weeps because he needs Pringles. He quite likes those limited-edition curry ones in the small hours.
I’m not saying online dating is a life-wrecker, or even that it makes you particularly fat. It’s just that we’re talking similar neural pathways. The average online dater cannot help but go back and score some more. Just as the compulsive gambler tells himself “next time I’ll win big”, the online dater wonders whether the next message might restore her faith in humanity.
The insubstantiality of OkCupid – its fun and frivolity and moreishness and quick-fix insufficiency – all of these are things that make it a lot like Pringles. It won’t nourish your hungry soul, and it won’t give you a solid, bread-and-butter style relationship, but it will make you hellbent on trying its new flavours.
Whether this sheds any light on my decision to rejoin, decide for yourself. My official line is that I miss its role as a social network for the disenchanted. Having left the site through disenchantment, that makes me precisely the sort of person it was designed for.
I also feel that, given the choice between addictions, OkCupid is probably my cheapest bet.