I just got an upsetting email from an online dating site I've used off-and-on (without much success, might I add, but I am an eternal optimist) for a decade.
"Before the new year, we’re removing OkCupid usernames. It’s starting with a test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profiles with their real names. We know, this is tough to hear — especially for StayingPawwsitive, Dootdootledootd0 and Britney__Tears. It’s because, like the recent goodbye we said to AIM screen names, it’s time to keep up with the times. We want you, BigDaddyFlash916, to go by who you are, and not be hidden beneath another layer of mystique. Even if that mystique is crucial to you and your dating life, unicorn__jizz."
Holy heck, OKCupid! You used to be so wise! What are you thinking?
I'm just as happy to say goodbye to hornyguy4u69 as anyone, but guess what, friends? hornyguy4u69 continues to exist on the site! hornyguy4u69 is secreted among us, but now that he is camouflaged as a Steve or a Dan or an Aloysius, how will I know not to spend precious minutes of my life engaging in conversation with him?
Maybe this is what OKCupid wants. More interaction and engagement between users. Even if those interactions and engagements are ultimately doomed to fail.
For me, usernames have been a quick and effective way of getting to know someone's interests, intentions and creative capacity. (I recently went on a couple of dates with a mister_spinster because I thought that was a cute and clever name. Turns out, he was a cute and clever man!) I often reach out to people with literary or cheeky names, confident that if they put some effort and wit into their usernames, surely they would put some effort and wit into their conversations and dates with me.
OKCupid's other bungle earlier this year was attempting to emulate Tinder by forcing users to participate in their horrible "Doubletake" (formerly known as "QuickMatch") function. Doubletake shows you user photos but not much else. This perpetuates the shallow nature of online dating and minimizes OKCupid's true value over apps like Tinder and Bumble -- getting to know another human being through their writing as opposed to images of their pectoral muscles.
As a woman with a weird job and a distinctively-spelled first name, I will no longer have anonymity on this dating site. I would even go so far as to say that I would fear for my personal safety, considering some of the vitriol I've been on the receiving end of when rejecting potential suitors (everyone's read the ending of Cat Person by now, so you know exactly what I mean by this).
OKCupid didn't think this through, so I'm through with OKCupid. After I hit post, I'm deactivating my profile for good.
For me and for probably many singles who aren't on board with this bizarre change, it's back to meeting cute and clever people the old-fashioned way: parties, bars, friends of friends and, of course, matchmaking.
Friend of a Friend Matchmaking Inc.