What Plenty of Fish has to do with compassion
I’ve recently returned to the online waters after a hiatus. Towards the end of my last go-round, I had gotten to the point where I was dismissing profiles with incredulous gasps and eye rolling.
“OMG, can you believe this one?” I said to my girlfriend, “His only picture was clearly taken at his wedding and his wife’s face is blacked out.”
“God! Ew!” she exclaimed, swiping left on Tinder, “Don’t they know anything?”
“Seriously!” I said, “And this one has a picture of his boat and his house, but no picture of him. Does he really have no self-esteem?” I continue swiping, “This one has the spelling of a fifth grader…” Swipe. “And this one, oh my god, the only picture is taken from about 60 feet, and he wants to have his first date ‘at his house.’ How does that not sound like a serial killer?”
I paused and stopped.
“Ummmm.” My forehead crinkled, “Wait a minute. Have I become too…judgmental?”
”God, no.” She waves her hand, “I scan the height, the job, the location. If those don’t match up, I hit delete.”
“But seriously,” I tug her attention off her Ipad, “Is doing this making us more, well, callous?”
She paused, suddenly thoughtful.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” she finally sighed. “But who has time to answer everyone?”
Online dating (or fishing, as it were) is a fast-track to becoming desensitized to the human being on the other end of the Wifi. It’s so much easier and faster to swipe left/ hit delete/ block user than to have a meaningful or uncomfortable conversation.
However, coming back to the online Coliseum, it is my current spiritual practice to respond to every single email that I receive. Even when the email is from “MrMeatTube101,” “SirBeerGogglesU,” and “AgedStallion779.”
And because I can’t control how the men respond in kind, my practice is to uphold myself without any feedback. In other words, I am not answering to be “nice” or make them feel better; I am replying because responding with care and respect makes me feel different. It reminds me to see the humanity and vulnerability in each person. I do it because it keeps my ego in check and softens the judgmental calcification that was too easily starting to form. After all, humans aren’t video game characters.
We’re all on POF (me included) because we’re trying to find some kind of connection in this complicated world.
Why not be a good swimmer?