Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beating the Online Dating Game

Data: A Love Story by Amy Webb

Every once in a while, I want to read nonfiction. However, I have high expectations of my nonfiction; they have to be readable. (Not asking too much, I think?) With Data: A Love Story by Amy Webb, I went into the book expecting it to be humorous, and true to life. Webb is cataloging her personal history and especially her history with online dating, now one of the most popular ways people meet one another. I have little to no experience with online dating, but I thought it might be a fun read, and so I proceeded.
At the opening of the story, Webb begins by describing the relationship she had right before diving into the online dating scene. This gives the reader a good idea of where and why she started her journey. Webb’s story reads much like a fiction chick-lit novel. Girl meets boy. Girl has high expectations of boy and stays in relationship longer than she should. Boy dumps girl. Girl goes on dating sites. Dating sites prove to only supply weird men with karaoke fetishes. Girl goes mildly crazy and creates a complex list of items she requires in a man. Then, girl signs on to the aforementioned websites impersonating men to find out the perfect formula for meeting men on the website. Girl finds boy. Girl lives happily ever after.

Make sense?
The majority of Data was quite readable, with it reading more like fiction than fact. Webb is a good writer and developed her story well. I sympathized with her on her bad dates, and I respected her dedication to get her life in order. Granted, my eyes glazed over here and there when she got to the actual “data” sections, wherein she has large charts, with math. I do not care for math, although I appreciated her sharing her methods with me, her reader. Plus then her consistent references to the “points” the men earned made sense to me.

Webb is very honest in her description of her life, never claiming to be some great specimen of womanhood. She has some issues, quirks, and bad habits that she openly shares with her reader. Webb is also very specific in what she wants in a man, and rarely veers from it.
What I liked about this book was that although she is a normal woman, with issues, Webb finds a way to make the system work for her. Instead of being intimidated by all the buxom blondes on the dating website, she takes a unique path and it works out for her. She is a quirky character who sticks to her guns, determined to “game” the system, and game it she does.

Although not everyone’s cup of tea, this book was a good read, and especially interesting to people who know even a little bit about the online dating scene. It’s impressive to see a success story that is less about the magic of dating websites, and more about the work the user put into it.
If this book sounds interesting to you, but you prefer fiction, you can try You Have to Kiss a lot of Frogs by Laurie Graff, about a single girl searching for the perfect man, dating a lot of frogs first. Or if the idea of finding love on dating sites is interesting to you, check out Love in the Time of Algorithms by Dan Slater, which examines what online dating has done to change society’s view of dating and relationships.

~Cailey W.

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