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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Onion Life

Hello, my name is Rebecca. And I’m online dating.

There I’ve said it. That wasn’t so bad. I’ve admitted to the fact that I’ve created a first-date version of myself on the Internet for the entire world to view and subsequently pick apart like a Hooters chicken wing.

I made my foray into the online dating world in January of 2006 and my decision of which site to use was a tough one. Because I cannot in good conscience associate myself with a site that aligns itself with a doctor who goes simply by his first name, because I’m not Jewish, and because I have no patience to fill out a survey that takes roughly two hours to complete, I opted for the free version of a Web site that makes me laugh without fail, thinking that perhaps I might find a free version of a man who makes me laugh without fail. That’s right, in my attempt to alter my romantic destiny, I chose a site named after a vegetable. I chose The Onion. (Note: The Onion shares its database of members with Nerve, Salon, Fast Cupid, some local newspaper Web sites, and probably other sites I don’t know about. For convenience sake, I’ll just refer to it as The Onion.)

I chose The Onion after narrowing down the online dating space to what seems to be three major players. My personal assessment of each—right or wrong, from a straight woman’s perspective and in an extremely over-generalizing fashion—is:

Mr. Regular Guy = match.com

Mr. Square Guy = eHarmony

Mr. Slightly Edgy/Quirky Guy = The Onion

One reason I think The Onion is a little edgier is because of the questions asked in the member profile. The Onion’s questions give you a tiny bit more insight than the standard religion/education/favorite things-type questions. Whether this is information you want or is actually helpful in making a first impression about the person is a different story, but the answers can be a fun (and sometimes disturbing) read. Some of the more fun questions include: favorite on-screen sex scene, _____ is sexy; _____ is sexier; if I could be anywhere right now, and if I had a million dollars.

I also like The Onion because funny people read it. For me personally, it’s a little bit of a litmus test. People who get The Onion will probably get me and my weird sense of humor. Friends of mine who are members via Nerve and Salon say the same thing; they identify with the type of content on those sites and want to date people who relate.
The biggest selling point of The Onion is that you can date for free as a Standard member. You don’t have access to a few things that paid members do, but you’ll still be able (for the most part) to conduct a thorough search. The advantages to being a paid member are being able to see all of a member’s photos (as opposed to just the main one), coming up higher in search returns, being able to search by specific criteria (which admittedly would have been helpful for me in weeding out all those men under 6'1"), and of course, sending emails to people you’re interested in. But if you want to work The Onion freebie, never fear. You can still email members you’re interested in by purchasing points. (Sending an email is 200 points. The minimum purchase is 2000 points for a mere $10.) As a Standard member, you can receive emails—so make sure your picture is good. Also, look for members that have Standard Contacts status—you can email them for free.

The real proof, of course, is in the dates. Every person I’ve gone out with (and there have been many, trust me) has been incredibly interesting, regardless of whether or not we had a connection. I wouldn’t say that every single one of them was funny and edgy (but then, I’m sure many of them wouldn’t say that about me either considering I’m still single), but they each had an interesting creative wrinkle of some sort. They also all lived either in San Francisco or very close to San Francisco which is a top priority for me. (I actually did give in to filling out that blasted questionnaire on eHarmony but I never went out with anyone because 80 percent of my matches lived at least an hour outside the city. Something to think about if you’re considering eHarmony.)

But after one year on The Onion and what seems like an endless flow of first dates, I’m still single. I never went out with anyone past three dates. I’m acutely aware that this may be a user issue rather than a site issue but even so, I think it’s time to move on. I’m not excited about my other options, but as they say, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Still, I give The Onion my personal stamp of satisfaction and approval. If you’re not ready to make a huge financial commitment to online dating, or if you like the idea that you’re on an edgier, more “underground” dating site, it may be the right place for you.

Posted by Ajay :: 5:46 PM :: 2 comments

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