5. Why Match.Com Fail At Romance

A scruffily dressed man armed with a small guitar stands across a station platform, gawping at an attractive blonde on the other side of the tracks reading her book. Before long our bard slaps out a few chords and breaks into an awkward freestyle, describing the girl’s smile, age, nice skin and hair. The girl, charmed by his admittedly nice voice, confidence and carefree attitude crosses to the other side of the station and we assume they’re off to Wigan, “the home of pies”, together. Sounds nice! The sound fades out, the Match.Com logo fades in, and we’re back to our scheduled programme.

What could I possibly have against this advert? The man showed initiative. In a too-often dreary world he made a young lady happy. His trendy wit and comfort in his own skin smashes old British stereotypes and ushers in a new era of romantics. This is great, right? This is beautiful in fact, we need more of this?

Well yes, OK then, that’s all fair enough, but this little still life does have some creepy undertones.

Firstly, why did this man have a guitar in the first place?

If we were generous, we could say he was part of a band, on his way to or from rehearsal. If we aren’t, this means he specifically took this guitar with him so he could woo young maidens. This lad isn’t anywhere near as innocent, or unique, as he looks: just like every other man out there he was on the lookout for a girl, any girl. For all we know he could have tried this stunt all day with several women and she was the first who fell for it.

If true then this doesn’t make him a terrible person, but this isn’t something that should warm our hearts – it’s no different to a guy in a bar hitting on every girl he sees and eventually getting lucky. All he’s done is read the zeitgeist well and, instead of giving her a chat up line, has just given her an equally generic rendition on a novelty-shop guitar and read out bland statements about her appearance. Ladies, how many times has a man said to you “you have nice eyes/skin/hair/hands”? It can be nice, sometimes, and sometimes people genuinely mean it too, but does that really count as romantic, or even anything particularly special? In a couple of weeks time everyone in Wigan might be walking around doing it,

“Pretty young brunette walking out the shop, and flipping me the bird. Says she’s going to the po-lice, if I don’t leave her alone, but “I like you” is all I heard.”

So what if he knew the girl he wanted, knew she’d be at the train station at that time, and bought his guitar specifically to win her over? That doesn’t make him an opportunistic lady thief. This is a girl he cares for. Well all I can say is that if he did, he knew terrifically little about her. Takes this for instance:

“Girl on the platform smiles. Comes here everyday, ’round about 9 for a while. She reads a C.S. Lewis book as she waits for her train. Tomorrow I’ll bring her new one, if she keeps back again.”

I know it isn’t great, but that to me is far more romantic. This is a girl he’s seen a few times and likes. One day he builds up the courage to do something he thinks she’ll enjoy and  goes for it. Instead, it’s just a guy who sees a pretty girl, stumbling through a few features about her that anyone could mention like a sleazy drunk.

To me, it would be romantic if he either happened to have his guitar with him for whatever reason, saw a girl he thought was beautiful and just couldn’t help himself but sing her a song. Or, this was a girl he’d seen before, and he’d bought the guitar as he intended to do some serenading. If however he was just walking around with his guitar singing to girls, then that’s lecherous. Most people however fail to consider this distinction, and don’t seem to care.

Alright, so why bother to mention this at all and smash something that may cheer a few people up. Well, people would eventually resort to a website like Match.Com because they behaved as naively as the girl in this video, when they feel they can identify more with a moment that feels cinematic than one that feels true. Eventually, when the cheeky boy has run out of songs or someone else comes along with a cooler xylophone, he’s gone, and we hop between relationships with no substance at all. One day, our man or woman decide they actually want someone who genuinely cares about them, that they connect with, and then they consider the dating site.

A couple of other ironic notes about the advert as well:

1) The people in the advert didn’t need the website at all. If people did behave like these two, we wouldn’t need dating agencies and so match.com would go bust (that’s assuming this guy wasn’t just a sleaze, which appears very unlikely), and;

2) Match.com is about pairing people based on things their personalities and forming connections. This guy doesn’t even know her age or natural hair colour; the encounter is about as shallow as it comes.

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1. Depression

“Except they were just…what’s the word?”

“Counterfeits?”

“Counterfeits! Fakes! I warned him about buying clothes abroad but he wouldn’t listen. Now he owns a wardrobe  full of nothing that’ll probably just disintegrate in a few months.”

Amy heaved a laugh from her chest. It came free of her lungs then bounced through her throat like dry tumbleweed. Mike smiled dozily at her as Sam took a sip of her sparkling wine, ready to change topic.

“Of course house prices are dropping now,” she noted. “Mike and I were considering purchasing somewhere before the chance slipped us by”

Mike’s eyes flickered and his grin spread. As his face became more open his brow contorted, squeezing free a thin rivulet of sweat that dried a quarter inch down his temple. Amy noted his uncanny responsiveness to the conversation and immediately understood the topic was an old one for the two of them. 

“Except that now of course, given the climate, we’re unlikely to find buyers for quite a long time. But it’s important to put something aside for the future, don’t you think?”

Amy smiled and nodded with sincerity. She agreed it was important to consider the future, although it struck her as strange that a house could once be worth so much, and now so little, without having physically changed at all. Even now looking at her two friends, under the harsh overhead lights with their smiles and earnest expressions, she saw how delicate they truly were. A few misplaced words here or an act of nature there could so easily cause their world to cascade into oblivion. Mike and Sam’s sweaty, grinning countenances’ gave them the appearances of melting wax-works, struggling to hold themselves together under a rising sun.  

Depressions occur when we discover our fine clothes are invisible, our houses made of glass and that the friends we always knew to be impermanent reveal themselves as wax mannequins. If we examine the cause of a Depression economically, we see a situation of distrust and uncertainty created through plenty of optimistic thinking and excess. Previously grandiose plans can fold based on a relatively minor event that cascades like a house of cards back into their deck. No-one is prepared to lend to anyone nor take risks, and banks sit around trying to figure out what it is they do own and refuse to move until their basic needs of who they are, what they can do and where they go from their position are established. Sometimes, they need a helping hand from everyone else: the Government. They used to know this information and need to figure it out again soon. If they don’t, they’re open to bankruptcy and nationalisation.

Depressions foster depressed people for much the same reason. Previously their identities were bound with their ever burgeoning lifestyles; their property, their investments, their hopeful outlook on the future, but there is more people can learn from the economic crisis  beyond the message of placing faith in money. People have a tendency to over-inflate themselves as they are forced by society to put their personalities in the hands of something unstable. It may well be that a family are totally content with their daily routine, a city visit on the weekends and quiet nights in, and if so they’re the lucky ones. For others, there is a need to bloat their personalities to match their goals as the road to success can only be travelled at breakneck speed to keep up with everyone else. It’s inevitable there will be several crashes, from which people may or may not recover, but each one means another person gains frustrating moments on you until they crash themselves.

Sometimes, a depression is nice. It’s when you’re stuck on the roadside, the wreckage of your car formed from your history, your plans, your relationships and your ambitions, that you’re forced to take a look around and recognise the world beyond you. Usually it just zips by and you never get to see it, but for a while it’s right there in front of you. You know you can’t stay there for too long, but nonetheless, it’s welcome when it’s otherwise so easy to forget that it exists.