There’s a concept in animation and robotics called “the uncanny valley” – the point where simulated humans are so close to realistic but not quite that they are disturbing. The theory is that people will become more comfortable with simulated humans as they become more like living things, up until a point right before full similarity when the comfort level drops precipitously. Facial expressions that are ‘not quite right’, movements that are ‘unnatural’, other subtle clues that would make people uneasy*.
There is a less technological manifestation of this phenomenon, referred to commonly as Poe’s Law, where someone’s stated beliefs are so close to what it would look like if someone was mocking those beliefs that it becomes difficult (or, in some cases, impossible) to determine the intent of the speaker. This can be a useful trolling technique, or even a persuasive method of argumentation to demonstrate the absurdity of a position.
I poked around with online dating for a little while when I first moved to Vancouver, but had little luck and abandoned the experiment pretty quickly. Despite my own frustrations with the process, I have learned that there are far worse things out there than not getting messages from prospective dates.
You could, for example, get a message from this guy**:
If I had an axe to grind with online atheists and wished to mock them (us), this is the kind of Poe-trolling I would do. Everything about this fits a negative stereotype – from the fedora (covered in internet memes!), to the neckbeard, to the bragging about activity on Reddit. Any one of these things would provoke eye-rolling and snickers from people who’ve dealt with online dating before. All three of them, unashamed, in the same profile? Seems too overt to be true.
And then there’s this winner:
Single file, ladies. Are you ready to change your life with Tarot cards!? Just don’t get too attached – he doesn’t have a lot of space in his harem, what with all of the offers of marriage he has from his
unwitting dupes fans, and if you want a commitment you’d better start lobbying for legalized polygamy.
And then there’s this guy:
First and most obvious thing to get out of the way: if you’re going to insult people for having bad grammar, make sure you know how to properly spell “you’re”. Second, I can’t help but note the similarities between this guy’s rant, and our friend of ‘SHOES AND PURSES‘ fame. Third, I wonder if this guy recognizes how often he contradicts himself by alternating between “pedestal” women and “fake” women as often as he does. Fourth, fuck this guy and his entitlement. Fifth, and this probably goes without saying, don’t actually fuck this guy.
People are silly, to be sure. These people are so silly as to beggar belief.
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*There’s a whole discussion of able-body (particularly neurotypical) privilege that goes along with this topic.
**I’ve got to say I’m not really a fan of this site. Some of the stuff on there is just mean-spirited. In this image, for example, why did they feel the need to include the fact that he didn’t want to specify his body type? Body-shaming isn’t funny or appropriate or necessary.