August 3rd, 2022 | On Gravity and Gods of the Metaverse: How To Date Online
My Dad and His (Lack of) Porsche.
As mentioned in the previous article “The Piano“, writing is like playing piano to me.
You can play energico (with energy, enthusiasm, and zest).
Or, you can play grave (solemn and contemplative).
Today, I will play energico.
Many, many years ago, my Dad used to joke that his future son-in-law would need to donate a Porsche Carrera to the family to buy me out. I recently asked him, “So, which model of Porsche did you have in mind, precisely?” And he answered. “Oh, never mind. If someone marries you, I will buy him a car myself.” Argh! — I thought to myself. — That’s how high you think of me? Hold my beer!
That’s when I resolved: 2022 is the year when I will finally find a partner. And get half of a Porsche. And then I started thinking and experimenting.
Why To Write This Article In The First Place?
How do people find their soulmates now in 2022? The vast majority of people you meet today are online. We work online, we socialize online. Even if you are sociable in real life (or, as they like to call it on social media, IRL), how many meetings can you effectively visit every month? A couple of them? How many people can you effectively talk to during every meetup? Five or ten?
No wonder it has become quite standard to meet people online. But the problem is: that meeting people online without a strategy is like bumping into random people in the streets, except you don’t even know how they look for real.
I decided to write this article because I painfully observe that lots of people — including many of my friends — don’t respect themselves at all when it comes to looking for a partner online. They lower their standards way too much and waste their precious time interacting with all the wrong people. Guys, it doesn’t need to be this way!
Do You Even Need To Enter This Circus In the First Place?
First of all, before you even start to look for people online, did you ask yourself if you really need a relationship in the first place?
Knowing lots of married people of my age (especially those with small kids) and observing how their lives look behind the scenes — with all the arguments, sleepless nights, visits to the hospital et cetera — I don’t even think the lives of people in relationships are much easier than people who are alone.
These lives are just different, they are not any better. Perhaps it’s a mere FOMO that prompts you to become just like everyone else and look for “your better half.” So, start with why.
Real Life Versus The Internet.
OK, let’s now assume that for some reason, you decide to spice up your life and look for a soulmate after all. Then, before you start browsing, can you think of real-world places to go and meet real people?
The Internet is not real life after all. You will need to verify your assumptions about someone in real life, why not start in real life in the first place?
I mean, I get it. Meeting people online is just so easy compared to real life. So many people are available in just a few clicks… And yet, it is so hard to find the right person!
Now, why is navigation online so hard? Well, first of all, it is hard to figure out people’s true motivations online. Researching whether someone likes me in real life is quite easy for me. These are my favorite techniques:
1. “Poland Is Cool!”
If they claim that the Polish accent is cute (which is the most ridiculous thing to say, ever!), that Polish people are friendly (which is a far exaggeration too), that Warsaw is a beautiful city (crazy as well), that vodka is like juice, and all kinds of other unfairly positive statements about Poland and the Polish.
2. “Chess Is Cool!”
“Get a Kiss or Get a Slap.”
When I want to actively test the hypothesis that someone likes me, I do the following. I tell them something outrageous, for instance, that Polish girls always hold a poker face and you cannot really recognize if a Polish girl likes you unless you force yourself onto her and she doesn’t slap you… and then I observe their face. If I see the horror on their face, that’s a good sign. And I have fun in either case.
Or, alternatively, I just friend zone them immediately and observe the reaction. I just start talking to them per “brother” and if I see the horror on their face, it is a good sign.
But how to figure out that someone likes you online? It is just hard. Unless they don’t know what the VPN is, of course. People might leave you likes and get into conversations with you for all kinds of arbitrary reasons, from support for your views to plain boredom. How can you really know?
In my early twenties, I was losing a lot of time watching my Facebook feed, thinking that I was flirting with people while I was probably just killing their time, that’s all.
Well, this is one of the reasons why you need to be strategic when it comes to meeting people online. The Internet is chaotic, and if you don’t find order in this chaos, you will get no results. Unless you count on luck, of course.
Active Versus Passive Search: The Supermarket Horror.
I remember these horror scenes from childhood when I was occasionally lost in a supermarket. I was never sure if I am supposed to stand still so that my Mum can find me, or if I should move around the place trying to find her.
If I chose to stand still, I was usually rebuked for passiveness. If I chose to walk around, I was usually rebuked for not sitting still so that she could find me. So, I was always confused in such a situation.
But doesn’t that compare to looking for the right person? Should you sit still, namely, peacefully work on your projects from the comfort of your own cubicle hoping that you will be found sooner or later? Or, should you take the active approach and start moving, become visible and make sure that sooner or later, the right person will notice your existence or you will actively knock at their door? Perhaps, after over a decade of sitting still in cozy Nijmegen, it is high time to start moving?
Active Versus Passive Search: The Online Chase.
Regarding that metaphor, I think there is a HUGE misconception about online dating — I believe that what it means to date online actively versus passively is entirely different from the common view.
Namely, most people believe that using dating sites is a sign of active dating online. How couldn’t you be more active than creating a profile online, on some platform where you can characterize yourself using the same set of parameters as all the other people so that the platform’s algorithms can profile you, analyze you against thousands of other guys or girls, and put you on the plate for the right individuals of the opposite gender?
Well, I believe this is the worst possible thing you can do for yourself. And I don’t mean “selling your data” to the platform or anything like that. Let me explain.
So, I believe using dating apps in an online search is as “active” as searching for jobs by responding to open job offers online. It is the worst possible method, giving the worst possible return on your time, as compared to personal branding, active networking, and creating jobs for yourself.
And yes, you CAN get lucky — the mysterious algorithm working under the hood can cherry-pick you and show you to the right person. We all know people who won a lottery or made millions on Bitcoin. And similarly, we all know people who met the right person on a dating site. But what are the odds? Do you really want to leave your future to machine learning?
The FEBO Generation.
In the Netherlands, we have these walk-up fast-food stores called “FEBO.” In these little fast-food centers, you can choose a snack among dozens of other identically looking snacks presented behind a window. You not only choose whether you want a hot dog or a croquette — you can also choose which one.
The beauty of it is that Dutch people want to have a choice. So, they like to stand there, watch all the snacks one by one, and carefully pick the one they want the most. Quite as if it mattered, as they are all the same! Yes, they might slightly vary in shape and size but you don’t really know what you get before you taste it anyway.
When I pass by a place like this, what comes to my mind is always Tinder and other dating sites. People behind the glass waiting to be picked. So sad.
Respect yourself! You are not a slice of pizza or a croquette. So why do you put yourself out there as a product about to be assessed by the size of your nose or of your butt, or your hair color, or whatever else… As you need to know this — on dating sites, YOU are the product.
Yes, the dating sites are not charities. The site owners make money on your sense of loneliness in all kinds of ways: via a paid subscription to the site, via ads presented to you, and lastly, via selling your personal data.
The point is: that the Internet is there for you. It is not you who is made for the Internet. So, don’t turn yourself into a product. You don’t need to.
On The Five Lessons I Learned About Online Dating This Year So Far.
OK, let’s now assume that you REALLY have no choice but to date online — for instance because it is a lockdown or you are geographically distant from people who think alike.
My main lesson from this year is: you need to work out a strategy in which you are active at looking for a partner FOR REAL. Don’t go for easy but random solutions. Investing your time into people’s the same as investing your money: if everyone chooses the same way of investing, including the taxi driver, it is probably not the right path to take. As the gems are elsewhere.
Lesson #1: Broadcast.
There are only two types of people: builders and consumers. Similarly, there are builders and consumers online. Mind that I am not saying, “influencers” and “followers” — it is not about the number of likes under your posts or the number of people who recognize your name.
Producers are those who speak their own, original thoughts, rather than mirroring other people’s opinions and leaving empty thumbs up all around the Internet. You don’t need to be a thought leader. Just focus on a mission that you have in real life, and communicate it online. Your progress, your new discoveries, your ups, and downs.
And just go on with your mission. The right people will find you and stick to you sooner or later — Google bots, social media algorithms, and people sharing information will make sure this happens sooner or later. The more content you produce regarding your beloved topic, the more SEO traffic points to you, and the more people will notice you as a person.
Do you feel too quirky for that? Your mission doesn’t need to be anything trendy. It just needs to be yours. And, you need to be consistent.
The beauty of the Internet is: that the more niche your interests are, the fewer people out there might resonate with you. But, at the same time, since it is a niche, there is little competition online and Google bots will rank your content higher. In a way, the Internet is the fairest advertising machine in the history of humankind.
At some point, I also went on my own mission. I thought to myself: “I don’t care. Whatever sticks, sticks. I will just do my thing.” And I fully focused on my professional mission. And my behavior is so different now — compared with what it used to be just a few years back! I might illustrate it in this picture:
Now I know that ignoring the whole dating industry and embarking on my own mission is the best I could ever choose for myself. Random people just stopped appearing in my life. But instead, I started bumping into more and more people who think similarly to me.
Of course, there are always two sides to every coin. Similarly, there are downsides to going on your own mission too. For instance, there is asymmetry of sorts: when you become vocal about what you do, people often know more about you than you know about them. They meet you with an almost encyclopedic knowledge about you, while you might know just a few basic facts about them. But well, what can you do? At least you don’t need to tell the same story every time!
Lesson #2: Say What You Want As Precisely As Possible.
Another simple lesson about life in general that I learned, is that you should conceptualize and share what you want as precisely as possible. I come from the Polish culture in which people are not able to live abundance just yet.
In Poland, saying what you want is quite ostracized. Others don’t want you to succeed, either openly laughing at you, or secretly throwing logs to your feet. The bare fact that you are vocal about what you want from life, makes their stomachs twist!
No wonder for a long time, I had a hard time vocalizing what I wanted. It took me like what? 35 years? One day, I finally got there and concluded that there is no shame in conceptualizing what you want and broadcasting that wish to the universe.
I think dealing with the Dutchies for the past ten years also showed me the value of being vocal about what you want. The Dutchmen use different channels of non-verbal communication than the Polish. While we carry the information in the intonation of our voice and in our smile, they communicate through the eyes.
In practice, it means that a Dutch person can stare at you in twenty different ways, and while you recognize and acknowledge that their notorious eye gaze probably means something, you have no idea what it is. That’s why it is better to just speak up and say what you want. As awkward as it is, it is the only way of communicating.
Besides, at the end of the day, the one thing I enjoy the most is writing, so why not use the skill I was working on for so long to my own advantage? And so, the other day, I just sat down by my desk and started writing. At first, my text was quite square and clumsy. 4 or 5 pages of loose, unstructured text.
But then, with every iteration, it started growing and growing and unfolding into a consistent picture. Today, it is, I believe, a full-length chapter: about 15 pages of text, available HERE. Still relevant!
Lesson #3: Back-Engineer How People Think.
Next, it was a major milestone for me to learn that how people think online reflects how they think offline. Namely,
1. They just don’t want to be rejected.
They are looking for ways to gently start a conversation so that in the worst case if there is no interest on the other side, they can just tell themselves, “it wasn’t a romantic conversation anyways, so it is fine,”
2. They naturally lean towards those who enjoy what they do for a living.
It has nothing to do with material status; they just wish to avoid other people’s frustration from being projected onto them.
3. They don’t like to waste time.
Why would you set professional and private life aside if you can do both at a time?
This is why today, the most popular and effective dating app is… LinkedIn. Yes, LinkedIn. The same LinkedIn where you hustle for jobs.
When I started getting more and more weird questions from people talking to me in direct messages, I was surprised at first. They used to first ask me something about my professional life, and then proceed to a whole lot of different, suspicious questions such as: “Do you have siblings?” or “Do you often visit your parents in Poland?”
At some point, I realized that this is some way of “soft-dating”: testing the territory and trying to build a connection without risking any personal harm or disgrace.
Having realized that, I figured that in general, building a personal brand online strategically pays off: mixing 80% of personal content with 20% of private content in a seamless, anecdotal way works well for both my professional and private lives.
Lesson #4: Use The “Online Gravity” To Find Clusters of People Like You In Real Life.
Society is not a random soup of people. It is a modular, small-world network, and you can reach anyone In the globe by just six handshakes, which is a phenomenon known as “six degrees of separation”. At the end of the day, to live your life in the real world, you will need to fork yourself out of the Internet one day. This is why it is good to use the Internet as a way to search for circles of people as close to you as possible — in real life.
The best thing about the Internet is that the “online gravity” will pull you toward people with the same mindset. Not necessarily towards people with the same background, the same profession, or living in the same city.
People who find and poke you will be the same people who enjoy your thoughts and lifestyle — expressed either by text, video, photos, jokes, memes…
And the more content you produce, the more “mass” you gain. And then the more mass you have, the more you attract people who think alike. And they will drag more and more people who think along with them! All you need to do in fact is to get to the “critical mass” — then, gravity will do its magic and the right people will just start coming your way.
Lesson #5: “In Love and At War, Any Move Is Allowed.”
No one said that looking for a partner is a noble game for ladies and gentlemen only, all right? As they say, in love and at war, any move is allowed.
You can, for instance, generate a FOMO photographing yourself with as many people as possible. If they don’t look spectacular enough in photos, you can always pump them up a little bit using FaceApp or so.
You can also look for information anywhere you want. I found the information on the Rainbow Mansion where I am going to, via a befriended drug dealer whom I had met in California five years ago. This is one thing I learned a long time ago, traveling to Zanzibar in 2013 — to make friends with drug dealers. They are always the kindest, best connected, and best informed people. Or otherwise, they would be sitting in prison now.
You can also gasify your search. At some point, I came to the idea of naming a child after a person who gives me the right contact, and I put this information in my file. But then, since there was no particular response from my friends for quite some time, I added an optional 1 ETH reward instead of naming a child. And all of a sudden, everyone knew someone! … What kind of people do I surround myself with? …
OK, Said before that all moves are allowed but in fact, one move is not allowed. Namely, don’t kiss and tell (unless you kiss the floor, then you can proudly admit — as I recently did by myself in the article “The Piano.”). Respect people’s privacy and they will respect yours.
Don’t Ever Lower Your Standards No Matter How Much Time It Takes.
Lowering standards is an instinct that we have. If for a long period we don’t get what we want, we just lower expectations. But this is a mental trap.
I made that mistake by myself, as a few years back I spent a few months in a pseudo-relationship with someone who was rolling his eyes any time I was starting to mind wander, come up with new ideas, and think about how to build projects. He was literally complaining that I use to think too much! And in the end, despite me trying to make it work, he kicked me in the butt anyways.
So, if for some time you don’t get what you want, perhaps you should do the exact opposite and lift your standards even higher.
Do you feel so much alone that it is hard to bear? You can split your needs into categories. Namely, why decrease your standards and go with whoever just because you have your lowest needs to satisfy, if you can increase the flow of oxytocin by hiring a professional to hug you? Or, teach your friends how to hug you properly? … and then lift your standards up?
You can always choose just YOU. This thought has recently come to my mind: “You must be unbelievably lucky, Natalia. Every party you go to turns out to be a good party.” And then, I realized that the one common point of all these events is ME. My own accompany is just GOOD. So, why go with anything of a worse quality?
Summary: The Mechanics Of Active Search For People Online.
To sum up, the active search for the right person online is not all so complicated.
This how this mechanic works:
Step 1: Think of What You Want and Vocalize It as Precisely as Possible.
Let your friends and family, and the rest of the universe, know. And then, buy yourself a rifle.
Step 2: Go on your own mission.
Just put some trust in the natural course of things and keep on going. One year of going your own way might give you more good contacts than fifteen years of living in a bubble and connecting with random people.
Step 3: Start gaining mass online.
Build content and bonds with people who found and followed you in the past. And then, fasten your seatbelts and let the gravity do its magic.
Step 4: Leave the rest to the gods of the Metaverse.
They will send the right people your way.
And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free
Lastly, you might be willing to ask: doesn’t this offensive, exploitative search approach have any dark sides by any chance? When you go on your own mission, wouldn’t that attract taboons of gold diggers to you, plus put you in the spotlight and make you accountable so that you are watched under the magnifying glass and criticized on every occasion?
Well, perhaps. But, I still think the game is worth the risk. Whether or not someone similar to me exists and lives his life peacefully somewhere out there, occasionally asking himself, “What if…?” — I want to know.
Please cite as:
Bielczyk, N. Z. (2022, August 3rd). On Gravity and Gods of the Metaverse: How To Date Online. Retrieved from: https://nataliabielczyk.com/on-gravity-and-gods-of-the-metaverse-how-to-date-online/
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If you would like to read more about careers (for PhDs and other white-collar professionals) and effective strategies to self-navigate in the job market, please also take a look at the blog of my company, Ontology of ValueⓇ where I write posts dedicated to these topics.