Monday, 17 December 2012

Craiglist Personals - where romance (and my dreams) go to die



As part of my ongoing adventures in self-loathing online dating and in the name of journalistic integrity, I feel it necessary to pursue every avenue in which the newly initiated could potential find their serial killer style death love.

Readers, I ventured onto Craigslist. Having snubbed the e-mailed offerings of Christian Mingle and Facebook I am not sure I was quite prepared for what I found lurking beyond the safe sex reminder, clutching a wine glass (for protection, not courage) one Friday night. And there, of course, I made my first mistake. A site like Craiglist filters ads by recent posts, so looking for love at 10pm on a Friday night you are confronted by a wealth of sociopaths lonely hearted souls, who (much like myself, admittedly) find themselves alone while everyone else is out having a wild time and checking in on Facebook to prove it. While I'm contemplating another night of endless, despairing, soul-crushing, desperation versus the tempting little voice that tells me 'crack could be an interesting sidehobby girl',* guys all over the capital are ceasing their frenetic masturbating to Little Mix videos long enough to form a vaguely legible sentence, pouring their heart and soul and longing into a personal ad, carefully crafted to engage, excite and ensnare the future victim love of their life. Or as long as a random hookup takes. Which is pretty much all Craigslist is good for. That and offers of paid sex - which is... prostitution. And gross. There is zero room for romance (despite what that picture up there would suggest), all I'm hoping for is to come across someone (not literally, though there are ads requesting that too) who has read a book. I find this dream slowly drifting away as I scan the ads. As a friend puts it "doesn't Mr Darcy tell Elizabeth he loves her most ardently and 4eva?" Oh yes, I had always intended to fall in love like they do in great literature. I'm not sure I'll find any Austen-ite heroes, I'm just praying I don't catch anything from reading some of these ads. 

Now, I'm not exactly naive when it comes to things like stranger danger on the net (some of my best friends and worst enemies were found in MSN chatrooms, back when we still relied on a dial-up signal). I'm also the kind of person who found "50 Shades" too vanilla. I've read my fair share of kink, heard enough lewd comments and met enough nutters. I was a model for years where most of the 'photographers' who wanted to work with me were middle-aged guys with a DSLR and a hotel room. I don't shock easily, but Craigslist, man you tested me. 

I imagine I'm the contestant on Blind Date, listening to the offerings of my potential suitors from behind a sliding screen... here is what I'm confronted with tonight: "I'd like like meet a woman who would like to be petted and dressed in different styles" (that would be a Barbie doll, my friend), "Im a normal guy with a desire to latch on to your nipples..lol.." and "Any girls want to try fucking on LSD" - The Choice is Yours... I'll take a hit of triple bonded acid and a week away in the Maldives please Cilla**

There are the ads I always avoid - those guys looking for heavily pregnant women, for example, on accounts that once you've seen something like that, you can never un-see it. I am always intrigued by the lactating ads though (perhaps I was missing a trick just feeding my child and donating the surplus milk to the hospital, I could have been making a fortune in fetish circles) - guys writing things like "relieving you of painful, engorged, swollen breasts" as though they are offering a handy service. I suggest he advertises in the NCT catalogue alongside the breastpumps and reusable pads. 

I do love checking out who has been in touch, wondering what they saw in my ad that sparked their interest... was it my wit and charm? Was it my referencing both Anders Breivik and the Dalai Lama? Was it my intriguing smile and captivating personality that made you get in touch mister "looking for a partner in crime"? (And while I'm sure you mean I'm a cute, quirky John and Yoko style all I keep thinking is Mickey and Mallory). I do think I found my perfect match in "gay guy seeks exploratory fumble" - seriously babe, I can accommodate. It sounds like you may have some intimacy issues ditto, kiddo and you have very little room for comparison, which is good given my post-partem, post-breastfeeding, post-breakup body issues. I'm pretty sure I am better looking than the average penis (words I never thought I'd type), but I'm not entirely sure I could cope with the soul-crushing prospect that after our romantic 'fumble' you actually decide you do prefer men.  

Craigslist does have an advantage over more conventional dating sites, and that is that none of the user pictures are moderated. So yeah, this leads to every other ad being posted by what is clearly a prostitution ring, but you also get a lot of cock pictures to check out what they really look like (from their crappy webcam pics) and you can make several astute judgements by what they do decide to post. I'm not saying I'll rule out your ad if you don't post a picture, I'll just assume you're ugly. Likewise, if you don't post a photo of your genitals... Exception to this rule is the guy who posted several photos of couples walking hand in hand into the sunset and... a picture of a Disney Princess kissing her handsome prince. I have no doubt you, my friend, were the original inspiration for Patrick Bateman, were not inundated with replies. 

And this is both the beauty and the problem with sites like Craiglist. No moderation, no limits, no posting rules. As my friend "You smoke a joint, then sit on my face and relax" proves. But I'll admit, I do return with an alarming frequency. Some of the ads read better than most clit-lit and there are all the cock photos all the hilarious posts that remind me why I'm so in love with being single the eccentricity of real people.

But if, like me, you find yourself trying to ignore your lively Facebook feed on a Friday night, I'd urge you to stay away from sites like Craiglist if you're looking for anything other than your own personal Ed Gein a giggle. Because when you read enough of this, you get dangerously close to turning your own self-loathing onto all men, everywhere. I'm assured by several lovely male friends that they're not all sociopaths who live with their mothers and treat women like subservient fuck-dolls, just those kinda guys probably don't hang out on sites like Craiglist (no doubt they're not too cheap to sign up to real dating sites, either). If it all gets so lonely and consuming that you would consider venturing onto Craiglist, my friend, I urge you to pick up that crackpipe instead***




*I've never taken crack, honestly mom, I just reference it for kicks and giggles.

**yup, this is the second time in a week I've referenced Blind Date in a post. It's clearly in a post-modern, self-referencing ironic way, just so we're clear.

***Seriously guys, don't take crack. Being single is not all that bad.

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