I am a wanderer of these Internets. One of my daily stops on my sojourn through cyberspace is a site called Erosblog. I do not as a rule repost information from other sites. But, for this I will make an exception. Today, Erosblog had a great story about a black woman who decided to do a little experiment: Kia posted an ad on Craigslist where she created a real profile (her true self) and a fake one (using a photo of her friend "Erin" who is white). Guess who was more popular, received "higher" quality responses, and attracted a better range of suitors?
I was going to do a similar experiment (and may still, although now temporarily absent Gordon said it would be cruel) but I give credit where credit is due. Kia's project is great. Here are some choice excerpts from her lab report where she discusses the types of responses "Erin" versus "Kia" has received.
So what kind of messages will a cute white girl from the DC metro area receive?
Really nice ones, actually. I am both validated and saddened. The majority of the messages compliment Fake Me’s humor and wit and express the sentiment that Fake Me seems like a cool person to hang out with. Which is true, I’m fucking rad. It’s validating to know that there are guys out there who “get” me.
But would they be as complimentary on my sense of humor and my killer favorite movies list if they were reading my real profile? Would they even bother to read my real profile? Probably not.
The most depressing part is that I rarely get messages like this. I can remember one. Let’s compare.
A sampling of messages to Erin:
“ok so you’re my new favorite person. first, that little intro paragraph was hilarious. i don’t even know why. but i laughed. Then you bash hiking which is ….ugh. I hate the people on here. it’s an instant rejection for liking hiking.” (VALIDATING MY HATRED OF THE OUTDOORS!)
“I enjoyed your wittiness and it’s not often that I meet people on here from Chevy Chase.”
“Anyone who speaks Elvish or, as you said, one of the many in the family of languages does not have a sad life. In fact, you’re the second person I’ve come across who took the time to learn it. Which makes you, in my book, pretty awesome. I actually enjoyed reading your whole profile, but the Elvish was the first thing I noticed.” (VALIDATING MY NERDLY INTERESTS!)
“I can’t spend much time on this message, because I’m typing it in the middle of my work out. My workout is bench-pressing a car.” (His entire message is like this. Very funny)
A sampling of messages to me:
“You know, the first thing I noticed about you was that your sense of humor is well developed and full of awesome. You made me laugh, and not just the lol silent internet laugh, but a true laugh out loud.” (This is the message I referred to. The only one. This guy talked to me on IM twice and I’ve never heard from him since.)
“Hi, so you thinking bout making out alot” (This is the entirety of the message)
“Hi Hello, how are you doing? I guess your doing fine’s. Actually l came across your profile and I was highly impressed. If you don’t mind, l would love to know you Bettie am here looking for my soul mate, someone loving caring loyal trustworthy and honest, am looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with. By the way am kelvin and u can contact me at…..” (This is the average language skills level of people who message me. I’m not exaggerating one bit.)
“Hello there, I saw your ad on CL and it caught my eye and my imagination…” (This guy goes on and on, not a bad message, but clearly copy and pasted from the mass responses he sends out to chicks on Craigslist. Great.)****
Here is some gross data on Erin versus Kia's popularity as of the first day of their ad being online:
Erin: 99 profile views, 10 messages, added to 3 favorites lists, 9 IMs, 1 Wink (a passive-aggressive way to contact people)
Me: 13 profile views, 1 IM, 1 Wink
So what do you all make of this experiment? How is race a variable in the online dating game? Could this be an artifact of fewer people of color using the internet for dating purposes (question: is this even true? does anyone have data on this? It seems that OkayCupid has released some really rich data on race and dating online. Of note: check out the following two charts. As we can see black women are the most likely to write back to men of all races, and the least likely to get a response. We also see that white men get the most responses, and that white women prefer white men to the exclusion of almost all other groups. Asian and Hispanic women prefer them almost exclusively. What is up with the response rates intra-racially for black men and black women? Surprising? So much for the myth of black male primacy and the compelling allure of race mixing...
I would bet there are a whole lot of folks trying to holla at each other on Facebook and Myspace (Would any of you date someone you met that way?) Alternatively, could people be using the Internet for approaching folk they would not pursue in person? Thus, interracial dating is more popular online? Stating the obvious: is Kia less attractive than "Erin?" Could the results be a measure of general attractiveness?