Yesterday something happened while on a dating app that I never thought would happen. I have tried to pretend that it didn’t bother or affect me, but I just cannot do it. Yesterday I was brought face to face with what I have said for years, that there is in fact a human being on the other end of that screen and you never know what really is going on with them. And we must never forget that, and must always do better to be ethical and kind when interacting with strangers.
As I said I was on a dating app yesterday and I was contacted by a man who opened with a fantastic line of flattery or so I thought. He said that he wished he was good enough to one day get with a woman as beautiful as me. I responded right away, asking what he thought he needed to do to make that happen, and made a silly joke of responding in my dating coach voice as I typed. He said that he needed to win the lottery to become attractive due to his short comings. I laughed and said money wasn’t everything. Obviously, he had been down this road before and said, because he was only 5’5” that no woman would ever find him attractive without money. I brushed this off and said that as a dating coach maybe I could help him with his confidence if we wanted. And if you have made it this far in the little back and forth between us, here’s the kicker. And I quote, “I am just here killing time, before I kill myself because no woman will ever date me”.
I was positively floored. In fact, I still am. I am sad to say, my gut reaction was that he was using this as a ploy to get my attention. But after a few minutes, my compassion and brain went into overdrive. If there was even the slightest chance that he was serious I needed to do something. But what could I do? For all intents and purposes, online dating in anonymous. I would have to do some incredibly serious sleuthing to find out even the slightest additional information about a person in the real world, and that would only be possible if we had chatted for more than 10 minutes. I had nothing to go on. So here’s how I reacted. I wrote him a message saying that I wanted him to seek professional help immediately. Then I copy and pasted the message and reported it to the app under other in the hopes that someone would have a data base of his information when he signed up. I then wrote back to him the 1-800 number for suicide hotline. To which he responded that he wouldn’t do anything drastic as long as his pets were alive, as they were his reason for living. I implored with him one last time to seek help and then just like that, his profile was gone.
As I sit here typing away, I am reminded of one simple fact, the online world often removes the humanity in us. We need to fight that urge and remind ourselves that there is a human being on the other end. I didn’t accept what had happened right away and was in a horrible mood for the rest of the afternoon. In fact, I was outright rude and argumentative to a stranger online who just wanted to meet me. I pushed him until he said something silly, and goaded him into a fight. I feel awful for doing that. And I am sorry. Truly sorry. When you interact with someone online,remember you are not talking to a bot, even Siri was voiced by a real human. Why? Because shit flows downhill, especially in the virtual world.
So be cognitive, be aware, be kind! Do not put your crap on a stranger, as I did. And do not ignore the pain of someone reaching out as I was tempted to do. Live as ethically online as you do in the real world. Let’s make the experience better and more human for everyone.
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