This is so the worst thing you're going to read all day.

[Content Note: Gender essentialism; heterocentrism; disablism; rape culture.]

CNN: The lost art of offline dating.

At first glance, this might not be an obvious contender for the Worst Thing, because it almost looks like a run-of-the-mill garbage piece on dating in the modern age zzzzzzzzzzz. But there are a couple of real doozies, like:
Shifting gender roles are also contributing to the confusion experienced on first dates.

"Men are almost afraid of being in the role of pursuing because they don't want to be perceived as creepy," Battista said. "And successful, independent women still want men to step up. As a result, it's almost like a standoff."
Feminism has ruined love, blah yawn fart.

And, as is typical of pieces that lament the digitalization of human connection, there's a lot of embedded disablism in the failure to recognize how integral online communication can be for people with disabilities who can't navigate traditional social venues.

(See also: People from marginalized communities who are isolated in small towns, et. al.)

Then there's this, according to dating coach and author Adam LoDolce, who has, "to help people overcome the anxiety of approaching someone new" made a film featuring his dating advice titled "Go Talk to Her":
"Online dating is one tool in the tool kit, but I think we as a society are seeing that there is still a real way to meet people."
A real way to meet people. As opposed to meeting someone online, which isn't "real."

It is absurd that there is still a stigma attached to meeting people online (and let us note it's a stigma being perpetuated by someone hawking a dating video for men), when a significant number of relationships—of the romantic and non-romantic sort—are formed online. Iain and I met online 12 years ago in March: I'm pretty sure it's for real, y'all!

But the legitimacy of my relationship (and others like it) is less a concern to me than the understood implications of why online relationships aren't "real," which are centered around dishonesty and danger. There was a lot more hand-wringing about my going to meet Iain in person because we'd met online than there would have been we'd met at a coffee shop and I'd agreed to go on a date with him. (Approximately: A metric fuckton of hand-wringing vs. none.) But, realistically, neither proposition was inherently less safe than the other.

I did, however, have good reason to trust Iain: We spoke on a daily basis for months before we met; I had his telephone number and address, to which I'd sent packages he'd received; he happily trekked to an internet cafe to speak with me via webcam when he didn't have one at home. What measures he could take to ensure I knew to whom I was speaking, he took, without my even having to ask. Before we met in person, I knew his parents' names, his friends' names, his pet's name, where he worked, his favorite books, his birthday... More, way more, than I ever knew about someone with whom I went on a first date.

And, once upon a time, a person I'd been dating for months, after meeting in a "real way," raped me.

It's not, of course, that internet meetings cannot lead to heartbreak and even danger. They certainly can. But so can relationships formed in person. And creating some false division of "real" and "not real" relationships based on how one meets reinforces the pernicious lie that a stranger in a cafe is axiomatically safer than a stranger on the internet. Trust is not established sheerly by proximity.

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