ICL to IRL Syndrome By Brown Girl Daily
I confess a secret. In addition to never have been married, divorced, or widowed, I’ve got even less baggage in my mid 30s – I’ve never had an LDR (long distance relationship). Well, not one that was intended to be a clearly labeled, easily defined one.
They say 1 in 5 people use online dating sites as an efficient means of meeting people within the same caliber of choice. I don’t get the 21 year old Desi boys on Shaadi.com, who should be getting drunk and haranguing local college belles. But, I do get the 30+ career obsessed guy, who spent the last 6 years completing some niche residency in the Midwest. I do get the 40+ divorced executive, who may even have a kid to entertain & ex-wife to restrain. I even get the 50+ Unclejis, who click n’ point for companionship. But, what I don’t get is how people change from ICL (in cyber life) to IRL (in real life). Are some people simply better on screen then in person?
I’m on Shaadi.com. And, from what I gather thus far, Shaadi.com profiles—pumped-up personal ads—are to many in their thirties and beyond what poetry once was, before bare words lost their cachet. On screen, Photoshopped pics appear fresh-faced and hopeful. A resume reads like an Indian Daddy’s ego-filled dream, complete with advanced degrees received from top ranked colleges, a public position that immediately makes me Google-able.
Who knows, maybe even you, dear reader, may have seen my stint on CNN? About me: I love to cook. No really, I do – matter paneer, gourmet pakoras, and any type of parantha imaginable. I weigh less your 18-year-old sister, even in my 30s. And, I’ve got the clearest skin seen outside a Cover Girl ad. When I speak with a prospect, our conversations last hours, as we discuss the exotic places I’ve traveled (and gotten kicked out of), the pristine values I uphold, the bohemian free-spirited giggles that pique your interest. Witty prose via texts once upon a time led to a $213 phone bill! Electronically, I’m Penelope Cruz at a Weinstein cocktail party! I exude charm, wit, and exuberance without a hint of acerbity. In reality? I’m not so sure…
Going from ICL to IRL sets your expectations into a hellish overdrive. The all-important first date now becomes the defining moment for both. I went on a first date from Shaadi.com and didn’t even think his ICL persona would be so very different from his IRL persona:
ICL: Buffed up biceps and pecs burgeoning through his tightly fitted t-shirt defo meant he works out. The bod rocked.
IRL: What the pudge? He showed up wearing sloppy rags & ill-fitting chinos, through which an over-sized, hairy beer belly peeked through all night.
ICL: Side-tilted cocky smile was the stuff of Bolly heros. Salman ain’t got nothing on his smirk.
IRL: Crooked, stained teeth with shaggy, unkempt hair that looked like my granny’s mustard oil recipe was adding the additional, unwanted shine.
ICL: Drunk dials that proved his endearing & faithful self, as I breathed a sigh of relief when he texted at 1:00 am home alone and wasn’t hanging with out some late night floozy.
IRL: Taking texts from the drunken buddies at a sports bar when he was supposed to be swooning over my new $300 DvF wrap dress meant for easy, breezy viewing?
ICL: Soul-baring insecurities, deep dark secrets shared, and family tribulations uncovered meant we related, we understood, we empathized.
IRL: Vodka-glazed eyes begin snooping lower and lower as the night got longer and louder.
Between us, the 6”2 ft tall, 33 year old, Ivy grad, private jet flyin’ physician left me with a suffusive, disgusted wretch. He looked nor acted nothing like his pumped up profile nor his witty conversations. So much for being so-called family friends with Madhuri Dixit, as he was proclaimed…I actually wonder he had Google open during our verbal volleying on Oscar Wilde, as he certainly showed off an encyclopedic command of the author’s literary anecdotes and reveries. On the screen, he met those annoying attributes comprising that mental checklist — encompassing dreamful height, caste, schooling — we painstakingly click off when searching for the elusive ‘one.’
They say pictures speak 1000 words. But, what happens when those words are spoken in person? Why do people live so comfortably behind the screen and so awkwardly in real life? How does that frankly jerkish attitude not peer through Skype? Online, he’s that superstar Shah Rukh Khan – tall, dark, handsome stranger who’s able to sweep you off your feet even far away in Chandigarh. Offline, he’s your average 5”8 ft, big-nosed, grumpy Honda Hero, who you’d never glance at twice.
I don’t think anything can beat a real time interaction. But, when dating online is the most efficient method of ruling out the ‘you’ll-never-have-a-chance’ guys, who have nothing in common with me or my goals, I feel as I have no choice but to continue. Maximize distribution channels, as we say at work. Shopping on Shaadi.com is a generic, obviously addictive way to troll with the utmost precision. I mean, I pause at albums in which 3 pics or less lead to some hypothetical half full glass of hope that is sadly rendered plp plp plp in real life. Still, I must get my shop on even while afflicted with a mild case of profilephobia.
As for the dizzying byways of ICL, I throw up my hands in Punjabi female bewilderment. It is a point of honor with profiles online—as with resumes and bio anything—to read beyond the lines (on screen and on his face) and expect some half-ass version of suitor to arrive. Whether it be feigned idiocy or faux innocence, I do wonder if some of us are simply better digitally, not personally. Dr. Hairy Belly, you certainly were…
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