Dickens would be appalled.

We received some incredible junk mail today at our apartment. The envelope was from Great Expectations, by whose logo I assume to be the dating service Mad TV used to spoof as “Lowered Expectations” back when I watched that show. (Is it still on?)
The incredible thing about this envelope is the sentence which appears on the front, which reads, “Did you know more than 30% of visitors to internet dating sites are already married?”
Now, stop a moment and think about this sentence. Does anything about it seem wrong to you? I have to say that I laughed out loud when I saw it, because the first thing that I thought was that 30% of the internet dating folks out there are looking for a little extra-marital action. I assume this is not what the dating service wishes to imply.
Unless they’re more progressive than I assumed.
The letter and Preliminary Profile Form contained within sport some priceless copy in the clipped, sentence-fragment style of ad-pitch writing. (This sort of drivel really grates on me.)

Dear Single,

Finding the time to meet new, interesting single people and develop social relationships gets more difficult every year.

We’re just not exposed to the right kind of fine quality singles. We’re locked into our work, our neighborhood, and our limited circle of friends. The busier we get, the less time we have to look, and the fewer options we have. So, hoping for the lucky chance encounter that rarely occurs, we sometimes settle for second best. And that just isn’t good enough. Not anymore.

They go on to tout their “exclusive video screening approach” (while, surprisingly enough, correctly using the word “whom”). Then we have this gem of a paragraph:

It’s a wonderfully efficient — and dignified — way to find the kind of person you prefer to socialize with, before you agree to meet with them. So don’t waste your precious time on blind dates or with losers.

The letter is signed “respectfully yours.” I don’t even have the words for this.
At the bottom of the page, in a little callout bubble, is a little tidbit which confirms my suspicion that they may want to rethink their introductory envelope copy: “If you are now married or involved in a serious relationship, please accept our apologies for contacting you, and pass this on to a single friend.” Not only are they turning away the already-involved who may be dissatisfied (or, I suppose, simply amused) enough to actually open dating service junk mail, they’re also telling these people to alienate their “friends” by saying “Here, hon, I got this in the mail and thought you might want to try it,” which in America is code for “I think you’re a desperate loser.” Marvelous.
I’m not going to get into my feelings on dating services right now, since all my theories have been smashed to pieces by two good friends of mine, who met on Yahoo personals and are now getting married — and, furthermore, whose engagement was music to everyone’s ears, including mine. Suffice it to say that I hold my friends to be the exception, not the rule. I suppose that dating services are different from personals, though; dating services always rub me the wrong way with how they seem to feed off people’s insecurities and fears to turn a buck. Personals seem a bit more open and discursive, a bit less hermetic. And online personals are basically like friendster, right? It’s about some sort of virtual community.
In a nutshell, my feeling is this: I’m not sure I want to live in a world where serendipity is cast aside for the sake of efficiency.

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