Tuesday August 4
For a few years, I’ve been a self-employed professional publicist. I spend the day either working in my pajamas at home – or at a coffeeshop (not in my pajamas). I spend a ridiculous amount of time chatting on the phone with media people (probably working in their pajamas) who quickly become friends and neighbors. I also send a ridiculous amount of emails, which I realize makes me appear to have the greatest slacker job ever.
There’s a method to the madness I assure you. And I work very hard at what I do. And it’s always fun to get the first glimpse of the latest and greatest, and to figure out what it takes to get people in the media, and in culture, excited about whatever amazing new product will change their lives.
One thing I learned very quickly when I set off into the freelance jungle is that you just can’t take anything personally. Just because someone doesn’t like whatever project, product or process that I’m so eloquently trying to pitch, it doesn’t reflect on me at all. They know their market, and if they pass, it’s just because it’s not for them. It’s not what their readers are looking for. And no matter how hard I try to convince them, they are always correct – they know their market better than I do.
Some publicists get all bent out of shape about this. Either they:
a) are so focused on their client they will walk all over editors
b) they don’t believe the person knows the market that they write for and live in or
c) they believe this is a reflection on them and thus all rejection equals a rejection of them personally.
Honestly, with some of my past clients, if I felt any of these scenarios, I would have curled up under a rock years ago and would potentially still be there to this very day.
But many a well-meaning publicity intern has taken this rejection to heart, and potentially needed a good dose of therapy where the well-paid psychologist simply ended the conversation with “You did the best you could. Just admit that you were working a crappy project. Thanks for the $165 an hour by the way”
Now-I’ve realized as I have gotten myself into this insane world of internet dating/blind dating/wishing I had friends that had normal friends who they would introduce me to dating time of my life, this scenario is the exact same thing.
Never take dating personally.
Dating sites, and well, dating in general when you’re over the age of 30, are groups polluted with broken people. Many are in transition. Many are lonely. Some have been completely burned and others have been the ones doing the burning. Everyone is looking for something, and hopefully something very specific.
I am a broken person, polluting the sites with a heart that is learning to trust again, a spirit that feels in transition and a ridiculous prejudice against musicians, large mustaches and southerners who talk too slowly about NASCAR.
I can’t expect every person on these sites to understand just where I’m coming from. Or what my life’s like. Or fit the recipe for just what I am looking for. Some people like opinionated redheads. Some don’t. That’s why there’s more than one thing on the menu.
Not that people need to be compared with consumables. That’s an entirely different blog!
So what has this whole thing taught me?
First I learned that on dating sites, they keep your profile up years after you stop being a part of the site, so there’s more than a fighting chance that said persona who captured your screen could by now be married, living in another state, or decided to just get a dog and forget that whole internet world.
I’ve also learned that a staggering amount of men don’t have good pictures of themselves. In a world of camera phones, I find this difficult to grasp.
But most of all, it’s taught me to treat everyone with respect, no matter how hard I may be laughing about a profile. The person is still a person. I, also, shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I can never ever expect anyone to call when they say the will. In internet speak, average build means 40 pounds over weight. Many people don’t know how to maneuver spell check…
Thursday August 6
I started writing this blog before I heard about the lonely single man who killed three women in the health club in Pennsylvania, and my heart goes out to him. To go day after day looking at the lists and lists of women on the web, and to constantly feel rejected could wear on anyone. But for someone as unstable as he, it just equaled torment.
I watched one of his videos, and it broke my heart. He wanted to share better relationships. “My object is to be able to emotionally connect with people,” he said.
But isn’t that the problem? Society has changed from emotional – face to face communication and relationship – to one that has become anonymous and all built on your given dating site name, twitter, or skype handle. You can go through life having communication with someone, without ever having actually met. Without ever looking into someone’s face. You may never know how tall they are, what type of shoes they wear, or if they are allergic to peanuts. You know them as an avitar, and never actually touch their skin.
So these dating sites, in reality, are mostly about the non-committal, non-personal, non-emotional interactions. Even blogging isn’t much different. You can put your words and videos out into a sea of bloggers and blogspots and wordpresses, however, if you haven’t made an actual interaction with a person, your words are in the wind. Not to be stumbled upon. Not to be shared. It’s just words taking up property.
Now, however, today I read this lonely man’s blog, too late. We now know to experience his words after his last face to face, or gun to person, encounter. And children are missing their mothers. And husbands are missing their wives. And people are reading words from a person they cannot help.
So maybe it’s time to rethink the whole internet dating world. Maybe it’s time to think about how we actually communicate in general. It’s time to actually come out from behind our computer screens and have a conversation. Get out of our pajamas and actually interact. The anonymous chat is a lot easier, but I bet the in person version is a lot more fulfilling.
I know that this man in Pennsylvania wasn’t healthy, and probably a lot of women picked up on that before they would ever agree to get a coffee…but maybe a few more just good conversations outside of the basement might have given this poor lonely soul the community he so desperately needed. And maybe he might have taken a new non-returned emails on his dating site a lot less personally.