Once I had already signed the contract and had finally received full instructions, it hit me: I had just taken a job as dating site bait. I questioned this, and was told by the founders of this site that this was perfectly legal, and that all of these men had been informed that I was simply an “online ambassador” for their site.
If you’re a female who’s ever used OKCupid and the like for any amount of time, you’ve probably received your fair share of absolutely creepy messages. At the time, I was temping at a small mortgage company by O’Hare, covering for a woman who was out on maternity leave. Back then, “community management” was limited to moderating comments, posting messages and basically making sure people weren’t going batshit crazy on message boards.
In fact, I’m guessing many of you men have, as well. I applied, figuring this was something I could do to distract myself while bored at work.
Most of them began confiding in me about how lonely they felt, which broke my heart.
Sometimes, there were elderly men who had lost their wife and missed having someone to talk to.
Each night, some sort of message (I never did find out what it was) was sent out from my profile to registered for the site, but had either cancelled their paid membership, or never paid to begin with.
On top of these messages, I began receiving responses from men I’d already responded to.Ultimately, it was the men who were extremely lonely that would maintain correspondence with me. What it boiled down to was this: I was essentially a virtual escort for thousands and thousands of terribly lonely men – and a sleazy website was making boatloads of money off of it. While much of the information I used was fictitious (namely, the little details I provided about my day-to-day life), there was enough real information about me posted on my profile for things to get creepy.According to the rules, I had to post at least 10 of my own pictures – and they all had to clearly show my face.A few smart men caught on immediately and became (justifiably) angry.When that happened, I was instructed to simply point them to the Terms of Service they had agreed to – buried within paragraph after paragraph of legal jargon was a line they had snuck in that made users aware of the fact that they may receive messages from “online ambassadors” that are paid to interact with members.He lived in Milwaukee, visited Chicago often for business, and wanted to put me up in a luxury apartment on Lake Shore Drive.