“There’s no sarcasm font,” Christine Telgen
A man sends a woman a message on a dating site. She doesn’t respond. He sends another, saying, “Can you at least explain why you’re not interested?” Still no response. On the third attempt, he decides to let her have it and writes: “Sorry you died.”
A few minutes later, he gets a message back. “Thank you for your condolences,” it says. “My daughter died on Tuesday of a sudden stroke.”
Guys throw out innuendo, women stomp on them with high-heeled putdowns.
“I’m really sorry,” the man responds. “I had no idea.”
“Of course you didn’t, dickhead,” the woman writes back. “Maybe if you did, you’d know I was ignoring you.”
Stiff retorts seem to be a growing commodity these days. Guys throw out flat-soled innuendo, women stomp on them with high-heeled putdowns.
The question is, at the end of the day, who’s the dickhead and who’s witty?”
BuzzFeed recently did a piece entitled: “23 People Who Responded Perfectly To Guys On Dating Sites.” In most cases, the men’s comments were certainly worthy of a putdown.
Like the man who wrote: “I want partssss lol. I NEED Parts lol. I love u lololol.”
The woman responded: “Settle the fuck down.”
Dating online is like being a straight man in what used to be called a “Vaudevillian tussle.” Pretty much anything you say can be thrown back at you. One guy on a dating site cut right to chase and said: “I want your body.” The woman responded with: “I wanted a message that wasn’t about my appearance. I guess neither of us is getting what we want today.”
“I’m surprised you can form a sentence,” only to get a message back saying: “I’m surprised you can read one.”
Being smarter than your average pursuer definitely puts you at an advantage. That’s not to say all men are idiot pursers. Some have comebacks that are pretty spiffy in their own right. Like the woman who wrote: “I’m way out of your league, asshole,” and the guy shot back: “I thought you weren’t into sports.”
Or the woman who texted: “I’m surprised you can form a sentence,” only to get a message back saying: “I’m surprised you can read one.”
Online dating has become an interesting battleground of wit and occasional wrath. Returning a snide remark — even in gest — tells a lot about a person. Sometimes it tells more than he or she realizes. When an innocent “Hi, how are you?” is rebuffed with: “Is that the most intelligent thing you can say?” that’s not so much witty as bitchy.
On a POF (Plenty of Fish) forum, a man wrote: “My perspective is that women join not to find guys, but to find reasons not to date them.”
There might be some truth in that. Women tend to stay on dating sites longer than men. “That’s because we’re picky,” a woman told me. “We’re willing to wait for the right man to come along.”
“Why don’t you get a dog and call it a day?”
The right man, it appears, is someone who isn’t turned off by playful banter. That’s if it really is playful and not snarky. A woman attempted to explain the difference on the same POF forum. “I’m not trying to be mean,” she said. “I just want someone who gets my sense of humor.”
Obviously one reader didn’t, shooting back with: “Why don’t you get a dog and call it a day?”
Part of the problem is mindset. Not everyone goes on a dating site expecting intellectual — or bitchy — exchange. As a psychologist at The University of Pennsylvania pointed out: 67% of men expect sarcastic responses, while only 42% of women do.
On the other hand, women say they often judge men by how well they handle sarcasm, whereas they aren’t so keen if the man punches back. Punching and getting punched are two different things.
And it’s true, wit leads to insults more than it does friendly or intelligent banter. “Even when a woman puts lol after a snide remark,” a man stated, “you know she really means it.”
Sarcasm has always had a dash of bitterness attached. Try as we might to say “we’re just kidding,” or “lighten up, will you?” that doesn’t work online. Eighty-five percent of our perceptions are formed within the first two minutes of contact (including messages).
Obviously, we form more perceptions on actual meeting, but since we like to message a lot first, it’s forcing us to examine words.
Some are relatively innocuous, like “No, not interested,” while the use of “dickhead” and “moron” are custommade for confrontation. It’s one thing weeding out undesirables, it’s another throwing punches before the bell’s even rung.
Men are actually better at getting testy than intellectual banter.
In women’s defence, men do tend to take sarcasm more as a slight than an invitation to banter. In a forum entitled “Why Are Men So Angry?” a man explained that it’s a testosterone problem.
“The anxiety of that [first message],” he said, “triggers extra testosterone and adrenaline into their systems, distorting their behavior accordingly.”
Men get pissed because they’re men. When first approaches are met with sarcasm — or no response at all — they get testy. Males are actually better at getting testy than intellectual banter.
Since many women are looking for wit, getting a response like “You’re a bitch,” doesn’t seem very, well, witty.
Women also don’t like hearing they brought it on themselves. One OKCupid respondent asked why it was wrong to “creep bust.”
“I mean, seriously,” she wrote, “after getting so many guys bragging about cunnilingus and the length of their dongs, why shouldn’t I be rude?”
If all you eat is fast food, “taking your time” may be as intolerable as a slow take-out service window.
There’s obviously a division of interests. Women are bitchy, possibly because they’re being harassed by men they don’t like. At the same time, maybe their expectations are too high. Is their rudeness the result of disappointment? Or are they expecting too much too soon?
And what about men treating online dating like fast food? Perhaps it’s their stomachs overriding their brains. If all you eat is fast food, “taking your time dating” may remind you of a slow take-out service window.
If it’s true that online dating is “consumption economics,” then sarcasm is likely the result of how we consume. We’re a fidgety bunch. We want what we want. We try online dating because we don’t have time to go the traditional route (squeezing cantaloupes at the supermarket to start a conversation ain’t cutting it; you’re what’s known as a “squeezer”).
We hear about people meeting online and getting married three months later. “My cousin met her husband the first day she signed up,” one woman wrote. “I’ve been on here three years. What the f**k?!!!”
Again, we have expectations. Why our cousin and not us? They’re not nearly as clever as we are. Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe being intelligent, witty and, yes, sarcastic, isn’t always a virtue.
Maybe we should go back to good manners. Do clever another time.
Robert Cormack is a novelist, humorist and blogger. His first novel: “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major books stores. Second printing (paperback) will be available soon. Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.