Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On Life, Online Dating and Humanity

We have arrived just past the middle of March, and today was, at its high, 24°C. Unseasonably warm? No doubt, and many people are waiting for another blast of winter. Perhaps we have said goodbye to winter, or perhaps March will go out like a lion. Time will tell.

I’m quite content about the possibility that winter might be over. Don’t get me wrong, I like winter but this year it was quite warm, and I didn’t make it out skiing once. I spent a lot of time indoors, not just at home, but in Montréal and Quebec City visiting museums, eating in fine restaurants. In a word: enjoying the finer things in life.

I’ve never been one to wait on other people to do things. Watching my father die of cancer, when he was only three years into his retirement, helped me to understand, ever so clearly, the power of now. So for the past eight months, since I’ve been single, I’ve been doing the things I’ve always wanted to do. I bought a car. I saw the Canadiens play at the Bell Centre. I ate at the restaurant, Le Renoir, in Montréal. I saw the permanent exhibition of the works of Jean-Paul Riopelle at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Quebec City.

Being present in the present, I’m not afraid of dining alone in a restaurant. Whether it’s out of pity or something else, I find restaurant staff to be a little more attentive when a person eats alone than when in the company of others. I no longer feel like people are staring at me just because I’m eating alone; I’d rather think that they’re admiring a stunningly beautiful man.

Sometimes I think that it would be fun to share a nice meal with someone. So, lately, I’ve been trying the online dating thing. I know a number of people who have met online, and it seemed to work for them (that’s how my sister met her husband after all).

The few experiences I’ve had to-date have, I’m afraid to say, made me a skeptical. Actually, I think I’ve been scarred for life. Alright, that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s been a terribly frightening experience. The most common complaint that I’ve heard from others, and that I, too, can levy against online dating, is that people misrepresent themselves. They tell you they’re 34 when, in reality, they’re 43. (If someone lies about their age, what else might they lie about?) They tell you they’re looking for friendship, love even, when what they really want is a booty call. Their profile photo is at least five years old, and before meeting you in-person they’ve forgotten to mention that they’ve gained forty pounds. And then there are those who agree to meet for coffee or a drink, but fail to show. Or, they tell you they’re single but they’re still living with their ex.

I’m trying not to lose faith in humanity, that we can still treat each other humanely. But, to do that, I think we need to peel back the layers of social media and text messages — come out from behind the wall of technology and begin to talk to each other. Or maybe I’m just an old soul who, still, resists the temptation to jump onto the technology bandwagon. I still believe in human interaction, cherishing the first glance when you meet someone new, hearing them laugh, watching them squirm when you pay them a compliment.

Gandhi is right: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

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