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February 21, 2008

“I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees.” “Me too!”

Filed under: Advice,News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:03 pm

That guy you’re chatting up online? He could be … that other guy. This just in from the Wall Street Journal:

“Among the 125 million people in the U.S. who visit online dating and social-networking sites are a growing number of dullards who steal personal profiles, life philosophies, evensignature poems. ‘Dude u like copied my whole myspace,’ posts one aggrieved victim. Copycats use the real-life wit of others to create cut-and-paste personas, hoping to land dates or just look clever. Hugh Gallagher, a 36-year-old writer in New York, is one of the copied. Match.com has more than 50 profiles with parts of Mr. Gallagher’s college entrance essay, which he penned nearly two decades ago and later appeared in Harper’s Magazine. ‘I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees’ and ‘I write award-winning operas’ are among Mr. Gallagher’s most popular lines.”

Read the whole piece for some entertaining anecdotes about people getting royally busted — dude, if you say you write award-winning operas, your date is going to ask about them! — or, on an upside, overhauling their profiles after seeing them cut and pasted onto someone else’s page (!) … and realizing they didn’t like what they’d said in the first place.

Yeah, it’s amusing, and there’s even a happy ending. And if it’s a phenomenon, it’s a phenomenon; report away. But still. BG remains weary of the seemingly endless out-churning of “Gotcha!” articles about online dating that, intentionally or not, perpetuate the misapprehension that the people you find on the Internet are probably lying, that they are NOT WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE. (Why, we revisited that chestnut just this week, in a letter from 1997.)

Sure, people fib online. And in real life, they always tell the truth? You meet someone at a party, they NEVER borrow a line or a move from someone else? They NEVER, guilelessly or otherwise, exaggerate or invent or at least fudge their credentials? They always say things like, “I enjoy snowboarding and film noir, and in about three months I’m going to start to silently pull away”? No, no, no. Now, I’m not trying to sound cynical; I’m saying we’re all human, whether or not we meet for the first time in flesh and blood. The urge to copycat is natural when we’re not yet convinced that someone will like us for us. Fear not; date on.

Though BG still wants to know why 25 people on Match.com apparently thought it would be a good idea to steal the line “I get a lot of women emailing me, (which is great for an ego boost).” Did they at least fix the punctuation?

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