I was chatting on a dating site with a friend I know from “real life.” I was looking for short-term tryst(s), she wanted a girl to sleep with. “I feel like I’m shopping for humans,” she wrote. And so we were.

Finding a mate online is like ordering pizza. Thin or thick? Chicago- or New York-style? Maybe a little Greek? Hold the anchovies, of course. But maybe, just for tonight, something extra saucy.

The dating landscape has changed since the previous time I was single, which was seven years ago. Specifically, it’s been digitized. I put girls in my online shopping cart and they do the same to me.


People were using their computers to date seven years ago, but it still had an underlying connotation of shame about it, especially because you had to pay for it. Now it’s shameless, many sites are free, and no photo set is complete without cleavage or abs. The rack or the six-pack. Aisle 3.

Technology has made dating less fun because all the real opportunities for disaster are gone. What if you had nothing to talk about? What if you were a sexual freak and they were a Jesus freak? What if they were cute until they opened their mouths? This made it more satisfying when you found a connection.

Now all that’s figured out for you. On any given “blind” date I know my counterpart’s looks, expectations, education, job, income, drinking and drug habits, religious beliefs, astrological sign, and their thoughts on kids, pets, the free-market system and whether they prefer The Simpsons or Family Guy.

Then you meet, with no discovery possible, to see if you have that “spark” — specifically, making sure they haven’t gotten fat since their photos were taken. The medium is the message. You are no more than your composite parts.

Yet I keep online dating because, hey, a bad meal is better than no meal, right? Who doesn’t like pizza?

There’s no going back to the old ways, even if sometimes we come close: I met recently with a woman I graduated high school with. We had an old-fashioned date, with flirting and fear, and a lifetime of “remember when” to draw upon.

I contacted her through Facebook. I’m a man of the times.

John Mazerolle is a comic and writer in Toronto. Read more at www.beaverexaminer.ca

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