Culture / Guest posts / Lifestyle / Social media

Why I’m hooked on online dating (but gave it up for Lent)

So far, Philly know-it-all Albert Lee has been able to fight the urge re-download OkCupid, Match and Tinder.

Albert Lee. (Courtesy photo)
This is a guest post by Albert Lee, the community and content manager at the Independence Visitor Center.
Chocolate. Binge watching. Wearing makeup. These are just a few things I’ve seen on my Facebook feed that people have given up for Lent. Me? Online dating.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: A short, Philly know-it-all who has trouble meeting girls at bars because he doesn’t drink and therefore gets nervous talking about things not related to the 215. Pretty typical, right?
Imagine for a second if you knew about every cool event or happening in and around the city at any given time, and with one phone call you could get behind the velvet rope. But where are you going to find that plus one?
Here’s the skinny. I’ve been out of college for 14 years. My 9-to-5 consists of geeking out to tourists about all the awesome things you can do in the great city of Philadelphia while my evenings consist of going to media previews and restaurant tasting menus. Yes, it’s quite the life but it’s still “work,” and you’re always told to never date in your industry. So what about just going to a bar? Sure, when you miss the enzyme that helps to digest alcohol, you clearly will grab that fine girl’s attention with a sunburned face and a hive rash to match.
Solution? The interwebs! I’ve dabbled in online dating ever since I was 18 with Yahoo Chat in 1997. It was amazing to think I had all these girlfriends all around the country but I had never met a single one. But with smartphones now, you can meet the girl of your dreams with just a swipe!
For someone who lives off his iPhone, why miss the opportunity?
Here are some of my experiences from dating online. is easily the most popular dating site for singles that has a membership fee but offers the promise of “fun” events like game nights and mixers. Having attended many of these functions, it felt very much like a few tweetups I’ve gone to. Everyone has a smartphone in hand and talk to each other from a distance. I’m not sure if people were checking their email or looking for more potential matches nearby. Grade school dances anyone?
OkCupid is considered the best free online dating site in the country so what did I have to lose? It allows you to answer general life questions to help better find your match through their algorithm. Example: “Do you ever eat in bed?” My answer is no but somehow this is supposed to help me find The One? One awesome feature is you could add your Instagram feed into your photo gallery to show off your composition skills or just more selfies! Either way, more images to enjoy!
Tinder. I frankly don’t really understand you and quite honestly, you depress me but I gave it a shot anyway. As you may know, Tinder uses your Facebook profile to find matches in your neighborhood and/or network. I’m not sure if telling your friends you met online is still taboo but seeing that you have mutual friends on someone’s profile makes for a good story. However, since Tinder only works if you have a mutual attraction, I’m still holding my breath to find a match. Swipe right ladies!
My favorite date from all my potential matches came from this young lady who was in the midst of studying for her first MCAT so she could head to medical school. So why not offer brunch and a tour of Pennsylvania Hospital on our first date. Our time together went so well that on Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed dinner then a special private flashlight tour of her favorite museum in the city. Yes, it was totally “baller” but alas she made studying her excuse to break it off with me a few weeks later. Sigh.
My absolute worst date? On a cold wet spring day, it was my second date with this sign language interpreter who loved playing the piano and CrossFit equally. How’s your special diet going? “Oh, I’m eating all kinds of meat but not cat.” Excuse me??? That was problem No. 1. Oh I see you’re wearing glasses. Does that mean you were wearing contacts the first time I saw you? “Yep. I didn’t want to show up looking slant-eyed.” Problem No. 2. “You said your parents were from China and you’re first generation.” That’s right. “Then why did they name you Albert?” Problem No. 3. “So Albert, I just don’t get why you would grow up eating chicken feet.” End of date.
If you’ve ever followed me on Instagram, (@urphillypal) people have been kind enough to tell me my photography of Philly is pretty awesome. Well, to be quite honest the creativity comes from having all this free time of bad date after bad date or not having one at all. Somehow my dream came true and worlds collided. From an OkCupid match: I love your Instagram account, you’ve inspired me to go out and see some Philly spots. How could I say no? But after our first date, she didn’t have time to message me back but continued to like my photos on Instagram. Go figure.
It’s been a few weeks since Lent started and throughout all its drawbacks, I am still fighting the urges to go back to the app store and re-download OkCupid, Match and Tinder. I haven’t been on a date but have been keeping busy with Netflix, Hulu Plus and instameets.
I joke about having to relearn “small talk” and I keep telling myself that when spring finally hits, you’ll be outside and too busy chasing sunsets to look for company on your phone. Someone tell me, when is spring again?


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