Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Virtual Reality or Insanity? Do you know your online boo?


I distinctly remember the last words I said to a gentleman I had met online. We dated briefly but I became more and more irritated by the fact that who he was online and in emails was not who he was in person and on the phone. In fact, I would go as far as to say that he deliberately misrepresented his true self for as long as he could. Thankfully, it did not take me long to figure it out. So while standing in a parking lot outside of a jazz lounge in North Dallas, I summed up my feelings on the entire thing. "I don't think I ever knew you at all. And what I've gotten to know… I do not like. Have a nice life." And with that, I turned on my heel (twisted my ankle) and limped off into the humid Texas night. Yeah, I'm never that girl who can make the graceful exit.

Anyway… the truth was. I did not know him. I knew the person he had shown himself to be. In retrospect, I'm a little amazed at how much effort he put into the fake persona he showed me. And I wondered how long he thought he could keep it up? It had to be exhausting spending so much time as someone else.

I can be identified online as OneChele, Michele Grant, BnB, Michele MyGovernmentLastName, and Black 'n Bougie. I'm have two Facebook accounts, two twitter accounts, a blog for me, a blog of my book, a website as my author page and a blog talk radio profile. That's a whole lot of Micheleness up and through these internets. But no matter which iteration of Michele you encounter, guess what – it's all me. A little bit smart-ass, generally good-natured, lover of wine, seafood, books and bougenificence. If you talk to me on the phone - I'm still that girl, meet me in person – still that chick. My godmother, who has known me since the day of my birth started reading my book last week. She called me laughing, "You write EXACTLY like you talk and that's a good thing." Since she's one of the smartest, realest women in the universe, it was a compliment that I treasure. I share this to say that I am who I am. Unapologetically in any medium.

Unfortunately, not everyone is the same way. In fact, I would lay odds that over 50% of those twitter/Facebook/Match.com personalities are complete and total fraudulent representations of the real person clicking away on the keyboard. And I don't just mean a super-flattering picture or a change of relationship status. I'm talking about people who know they have crappy personality traits prettying up their prose for the purpose of online hoodwinkery. Yes, I'm making up words.

Let's take my friend Kevin. He met a lady on Twitter. She was smart, witty, her picture was cute. She became his twitter-boo. They elevated to an instant messaging system, then texts to phone calls. He described the phone calls as awkward but chalked that up to "I don't really know you" vibes. Finally, it was first date time. He went to pick her up and found her apartment in an area of town that did not match the standard of what she had described. But he was okay with that. He knocked on her door and a young child answered. Turned out she had three kids she had failed to mention, but he was okay with that. She came to the door and looked not one thing like her picture and was quite a bit older than he expected but still… he was okay with that. He had been charmed by her personality. He escorted her out to his car and onto the restaurant. By his description, this was the most awkward and painful 97 minutes of his life. To this day, he cannot figure out how the woman who dazzled him online turned into the unruly person he struggled to get through dinner with. I suggested to him that she had a ghost-tweeter… someone smarter handling her online game. He was appalled.

A female friend of mind met a gentleman on Yahoo Personals who was everything we was looking for. Romantic. Articulate, gorgeous, employed, no kids, smart. Loved The Wire and the Lakers with the same intensity she did. He cooked, he cleaned, and he was (by her account) brilliantly gifted in bed. She said it felt like perfection and it was oh-so-easy. Now here's the difference between her and me… when things are going too perfectly my conspiracy theory radar perks up and I start looking for flaws. I don't believe in perfection. I need flaws to know it's real. But this isn't about me. Moving on… three months into the good times, old boy went completely stalker. And by stalker I mean he had her cell phone cloned to check her ingoing and outgoing messages, he wanted to know where she was 24/7. When she got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, this ninja told her to keep the door open so he would KNOW WHAT SHE WAS DOING?! He joined her church, switched to her dry cleaners, and started shopping at the same grocery store. ├╝berStalker. A new apartment two cities over and a restraining order later she is free.

Some interesting stats: This weekend, I was treated to some twitter-tales of love. Apparently there have been a number of hook-ups, relationships and even marriages from the twitterverse. I was not aware of this. Facebook is now listed on pre-marital surveys as one way engaged couples learned more about their intended spouses. Online dating is now the number 2 way (behind introductions from friends) that people meet their mates. We are living in a plugged in, online, 140 character or less world… date at your own risk. I heartily encourage those of you who look for love in the twitterverse, blogosphere and online dating portals to place a premium on what you learn offline rather than what you think you know online. I'm also not against a background check. Folks is crazy. Because I love this song and it's relevant, here's Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai (dance break):

And we're back… I also wonder whether chemistry that is manufactured online translates to "real-life" chemistry. I've had experiences (re-visit my eHarmony FAILS) where the chemistry did not translate and others where it worked (for a minute). So I wonder, what are your thoughts about online dating or hooking up with your twitter-crush? Who has tried it, how has it worked out? Has your Facebook profile helped or hindered your relationships? Is there any way to really know who you're chatting with without the face-to-face 'look you in the eye' factor? Maybe a broader question, do you ever really know who you're dating?

37 comments:

eLoveturnedrealLove said...

Hi OneChele!!!.
My relationship is a product of an online meeting, we were not looking for "the one or anyone really" online it just kind of happened (I encourage forums that are based on stuff other than finding a partner, most people on there tend to show their real character because they are there to discuss politics, food, etc) Anyway, I was scared stiff when it came time to meet my online friend but it worked out well. We had great chemistry online and on the phone and a little awkwardness during the first meeting but we soon got into the swing of things (about 5 mins into the meet). We met at a veryyyy public place (with heavily armed Police present :-p..I'm partly paranoid).
We did not prolong the online facet of our relationship. I always advice people to transition from emails and IM as soon as you both feel there is a match, move to phone calls and then face to face (if possible). Talking on the phone can be deceptive but it is a good way to fish out certain things (that's when you can hear the kids in the background, you can study patterns...does he/she only call between 10am and 6:54pm before their real life mate gets back home), if there is a spark...meet face to face if you can.Webcams are also a good one to have "face to face" conversation, that way you can read their expressions. All in all, there is no fool proof way of finding someone's craziness right away (even with real life meetings) but there are ways to spot somethings.

Reads4Pleasure said...

Way back in the day when AOL charged by the hour, I dated a really good guy out of New York (I live in St. Louis). It was long distance & online, but we talked all the time, visited back & forth and worked really well until careers got in the way. I've dated a few other AOL men since then, but never someone from FB (how does that work? Do people just look at their friend's friends & ask to be hooked up) or the Twitterverse. Oh, there was the brother I met on blackplanet back in the day that shared my love of football. We were good from August (pre-season) through the Superbowl, but after that when I really had to talk to him, I realized he was a few bricks short of a load and that he'd conveniently forgotten that he had four kids instead of the two he initially told me about.

ASmith said...

The thing about the internet -- using Twitter, e-mail, facebook, etc... to get to know someone is that this is all proofread stuff.

We get to edit everything we say before we say it. My face tells on me EVERY TIME so when people can't see me giving them the "you're dumb as hell" look it's all to the good.

I try to keep that in mind when dealing with people online. I've met some really cool people, but in the back of my mind I remember that they're all edited versions of themselves.

I mean think about it -- you find few people out here admitting to the messed up things they do, and even when they do it's stories from yesteryear. It's like we're all perfect 'round these parts. It's easy to forget we're all human. Reading your post about your situation with Aaron was so refreshing cause that happened recently. We're all wary of admitting our fallacies today.

That whole "shaping how you see me" thing isn't just a problem on the world wide web. Texting has made getting to know someone so much more... muddled. I JUST had a conversation the other day with a friend about this guy I've been talking to. I actually have known him IRL (in real life) for almost a decade. He recently claimed that he's turned over a new leaf and since we now live 600+ miles a part, I'm basically having to take him at his word. His texted word, no less. Long story short -- he spits a good game when he has 5 mins to think, but via phone? In person? My dude can't hold up his end of the bargain during anything instantaneous.

Honestly, I don't understand it. Isn't it extra work having to make up a new self? I mean doesn't that just get tiring? Isn't it easier to just be who you are? Don't people plan for getting busted?? I'm just so confused by it all.

creosus said...

Even though I have been online since the early 90s, I am wary of the online dating thing. I do see where it could be efficient, but it, to me, still smells like the personals in the back of the free newspaper.

I guess that makes me old school.

L. Michelle said...

This virtual dating has been a hot topic in several forums that I am apart of this week. I have met several friends online as well as dated several guys that I met online, through both Yahoo or BlackPlanet. I don't waste time on Match and eHarmony b/c usually the same guys are trolling both and because Austin's black population is so small, I most times already know them.
I do want to know how you meet someone on Twitter??

Dreamgirl said...

I met my husband on BlackPeopleMeet.com but before him I met some real stinkers. As a matter of fact, I had only one day left on my membership when he sent me a wink. I took it very, very slow (drove him crazy) but it worked out in the end. Like anything else, you have to go through the frogs to get to the prince, I guess.

OneChele said...

Ouch, the extra kids hustle. What's that about?

Steve said...

I've met a couple of ladies from Twitter/Facebook/blog. We had a New Orleans "Tweet-Up" in the fall. So far none have been "as advertised". Is it too much to ask that you look SOMETHING like your profile pic? Or that you hold onto your entire "bad date" history until after we finish a drink? Basically online world just widens the scope of people to meet. Whether you meet them on or off line, you still have to put in the due diligence to see what's real.

OneChele said...

Co-sign. Why create a whole different person to be. You are going to have to be yourself at some point and then what? Too much work and relationships are hard enough.

AppleBerryMIA said...

I'll fess up. Currently seeing someone that I met through your blog. I wrote something, he replied. I waved to him on Twitter and so it began. I made a couple of assumptions that helped us off the bat - I had read some of his comments and assumed he was being true to himself when he made them. I assumed that if he was smart enough to appreciate BougieLand he was my kind of people. And of course your blog gave us something in common and something to talk about in the beginning. So far so good.

OneChele said...

Aw, a BnB hook-up. *sniffling* I'm so proud. (and slightly terrified, if it goes South ya'll on your own) LOL!

Troy said...

I've had some good first dates with people I met online O__o. Nuff said.
BTW - chemistry has to be there in person. You can't manufacture it. It's either there or it's not.

Hidi said...

Sigh. I like the song; it's been a long time since I heard it. Anyway, I am not for the online dating thing. Nope not me. I am a visual person, so I have to see you face to face. Period. I just don't trust it. Yeah I know crazy people exist offline too but at least I get an visual and I can observe the person closely. Like someone said below: people online are just a edited version of themselves or frauds. LOL

People who feel the need to be online frauds...they are insecure individuals. These people never had anything positive going for themselves anyway, so they said to themselves...Let me get on the computer and make believe I am someone else. LOL

OneChele said...

Yeah for the happy ending.. beginning... life!

Sarah said...

All I know about online social media is what I've read here :-) I thought your e-Harmony stories were hilarious. In fact, I think they were the first ones I read when I started visiting the site. I'm in a bit of limbo which is why I spend more time surfing the web than I would normally and it is a bad winter with the outdoors looking like the frozen tundra of the Antarctic. If it was nice outside, when I needed a break, I'd hop on my bike for a ride or take a walk. Instead, I web surf or pace the apartment. Anyway, even when things pick up, I'll probably keep checking up on your stories. I'm waiting for the second book to come out. :-) Like some others here, I have to look a person in the eyes first and even then I've been completely mistaken about a person's character.

MochaMuffin said...

I meet my ex through the old school AOL chat rooms. We had a great relationship, marriage for 7 years. I can't blame the issues on meeting him online. I work from home and live outside of the city a ways so online is really one of the only ways I will come into contact with "my type of guy" - I recommended it as long as take the time to really get to know the person.

OneChele said...

Nothing wrong with old school ;-)

derek love said...

I actually like using an online dating service. If you ask the right questions, you can do a lot of pre-screening and weeding out. I've had mostly positive experiences, just haven't found "the one" yet.

ThinkAgain said...

I don't want to drop in and salt up everybody's good time but I have met all many of crazy, bitter chick online. I must be a magnet. Every single time, something crazy manifests and all of a sudden there's all the luggage and the self-esteem and the I'm a good balck woman deserving a good balck man speech. Enough for me. I can find crazy right around the corner, thanks. I was also meeting a particular type of woman who expect (right off the bat) for me to buy her things. As you say - WDDDA? I'm talking first date, can you pay me car note kind of ish. I'm over it.

storm529 said...

Wow. How cool is that? A BnB love connection.

OneChele, maybe you can start a BnB online dating service as a side-hustle. Smile.

Wondering if Riley is the lucky guy? (j/k)

OneChele said...

Hey Think, I moderated out the F-bomb filled sentence. In regards to women expecting you to pay for things, there's a certain kind of girl who does that. She's usually attractive, used to trading on her looks for goods and services and extremely selfish. You may want to pre-screen by asking a woman if she pays her own bills, is she willing to go dutch on a date, what kind of job has she held (and kept)... something along those lines. As for the bitter, you should be able to spot that early after so many bad experiences. Crazy? Well, that's harder to nail down. Why don't you reach out to someone like Paul Brunson, a professional matchmaker and see if he can provide insights? Thanks for visiting BnB.

Foxy Brown said...

i met my girl on a dating website. we chatted a lot online before meeting in person. we met in a public place and have been together ever since. we have a good relationship. i was hesitant at first but it was getting harder and harder to meet someone in person. i took a chance and it worked out for me.

AppleBerryMIA said...

LMAO - not throwing shade but no thank to Riley... I'll let one of you fine ladies handle that.

AppleBerryMIA said...

Duly noted. :-)

OneChele said...

Let's pray I finish Book Two. Prayers up, please.

Reads4Pleasure said...

Oh, you're going to finish book two alright, lol ;-)

OneChele said...

I love the happy stories!

LikeLena said...

I've had mixed experiences with online meeting and greeting. In the middle of an on-again, off-again thing so if this doesn't work out - I'm taking a break but would definitely consider an online source.

Joy Andrews said...

Met my current SO through Match.com. It's been a breeze and a pleasure from day one. (crossing fingers, throwing salt, fervent prayer)

Kandia said...

I've had several online boos and for the most part we hit it off the same in person as online. How I am on the phone or online is how I am when they met me so there were no surprises. I remember back in the late 90's when I was a chatting fool on AOL (it was addictive) and ended up meeting a couple of people that way without trying. I agree with another poster that if you meet someone online it's best to do it on a forum/message board that isn't catered to hook-ups, you get to see how they think and their views on stuff when they aren't trying to hook a date. Tends to be a little more authentic than someone with a prepared profile listing all their good traits and reasons why you should like them. My online activities these days are just about fun and socializing and not hooking up or find love.

tiffanyinhouston said...

Well Chele, you already know that I am engaged to my fiance, who I met initially via FB. We used to comment in the same online group set up by a mutual friend of ours. There was a bit of pimpery on both our parts as I friended him first but I later found out he'd already peeped my page and asked our mutual friend about me. IRL, the commonalities we had we uncanny, our parents already knew each other from church, we'd grown up in adjacent neighborhoods, attended rival colleges and knew tons of the same folks. We have similar family structures and values and I consider myself EXTREMELY blessed and fortunate to have met him.

I consider online dating another tool in a busy professional's arnesal. You screen just like you would in real life, you play it safe just like you would in real life. I'm an early adopter because I've been meeting people using an online medium since the early days of BlackPlanet.

You can meet the crazy in the grocery store..it's no different.

OneChele said...

I actually didn't know you and M2 had met on Facebook. Very cool.

Inkognegro said...

I find it a bit amusing that People act like the Internet is the Frontier for running game. As though running game was invented online. People have been Casting bronze idols of Fragments of their Crushes since Emotions were downloaded into our hardware. If you are getting gamed on the internet, I would be willing to bet that you might be getting gamed in the club too.

Yoruba Mutakabbir said...

I have dated online and met some decent people. Decent in that we weren't soul mates but they weren't crazy. I've met more than one person online that we had mutual acquaintances in real life. The world of college educated black people is really sorta small. anyway. I also had a bad experience in which a guy posted the wrong age, in essence, lied about his age. I was 26 at the time and he was really 40, but said he was 35. I got suspicious when his birthday was approaching and he said he was turning 35 and I said thought you would be 36 and after a simple free online peoplesearch with his last name (which was not common) and birthdate I discovered the correct birth year. I think he was trying to hook a younger woman to increase his chances of having kids. The sad thing is we really clicked and had I met him in person and gotten to know him I would have gotten over the age gap. But since he lied, not just on his profile but in our conversations about his age, he was a liar, period. He felt that if he shared his true age I wouldn't be interested but he should have given me the choice. Anyway, I think sometimes people blame the internet for not doing good research and due diligence on a person, the kinds of things you should do if you meet a person online or in person. I'm not saying every guy needs a background check, but I think people ignore things that don't add up. for example, my friend met a guy who said he owned his home. turned out he was a renter. which is not bad, but he lied. Same thing with marriage and kids. If you even THINK someone might be married, you can find out. Don't say they didn't tell you. you had a hint. And employment. chances are if they work for a large company, you can confirm it. I know this sounds extreme, but google can tell you a lot. I'm just saying if you have a hunch about something, might as find it out instead of getting played. If someone has never tried online dating, I would suggest they try it. As far as facebook, twitter, etc. I don't use those for dating. It's highly unlikely I will friend someone on facebook if I don't know them in person. I kept my online dating to sites specifically for that purpose.

Lady4Real said...

Back in my late teens, early twenties I was infamous for chatlines, chatrooms and im's. I met some greats, fakes, and hates. I really got caught up with the last one, he was flattering, polite and persistent. He was so persistent that against warnings and disapproval of my family I married him, I should have listened to my gut, my family and my friends because now we are getting a divorce. He wasn't who he made himself out to be, nor who I thought he was. Most of my internet relationships tended not to be who they appeared to be behind those characters and that IM. The guys that I met face to face; in the market, at school, around the way were my best guys and still some of my best friends.

Nik said...

I met my boo online. He is actually one of the few men that actually didn't send his representative to the party. Trust me there were many before him that did. We have been dating for about five months. We actually live almost 300 miles apart but we see each other about every 10 days. Our visits usually last 3 or 4 days and we try to have as much quality time as possible.
I have to admit that I did the background check and everything because folks is crazy. But I will say that you can meet a crazy dude in the grocery store...this is not specific to online dating.

Here's an excerpt from a blog I wrote on Black Planet titled, "No Representatives Allowed" -
Something has been on my mind for a while and I absolutely must speak on it. I've met some great people online but I keep finding more often than not, people are not keeping it real. If you are interested in really dating someone and finding that special person to spend the rest of your life with, do not send your "Representative" to the party. If you're not sure what that means let me give you an example... So, you find a woman online that you think you might be interested in getting to know, you read her profile and she sounds like she might be "the one". You reach out to her, she reaches back, it's on and popping. But then you begin to cater your conversation to fit the man she described in her profile, i.e. you have introduced her to your "Representative". Let's be real, this never last...It's not really you and eventually the real you has to show up. Not to mention it is frustrating as hell for women. If you like a quiet woman, void of opinion, who stands behind not beside you, then don't reach out to me. You can clearly see from my profile, that is not me. I am by no means a loud mouth that gets out of control and I welcome an opportunity to support my man. But I do have a brain and thoroughly enjoy stimulating conversation and feeling as though my opinion is valued in a relationship. I am tired, I mean really tired of meeting people who just can't be themselves. I feel that as a grown a** woman I have earned the right to be me and expect the person I give my heart to, to have the ability to accept me just the way I am and I will return the favor by loving and honoring my man for being himself. So, if you know who you are and would like to introduce yourself to me, not your "Representative", please do so.

That's my two cents. By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog!

Jasmin said...

I actually met my my current boyfriend through my blog! (Though I commented on his blog, which was linked to a few other blogs we both read at, before we started "talking") I agree with OP that it probably helped that the first time we came in contact wasn't in a potential dating situation. We even disagreed on some things, so there was no, "Oh we are 2 peas in a pod and perfect and will never fight" illusion to erase.

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