Hitting the Books: How to get a date online

Surprisingly, it simply involves not being a creep.

Welcome to Hitting the Books. With less than one in five Americans reading just for fun these days, we've done the hard work for you by scouring the internet for the most interesting, thought provoking books on science and technology we can find and delivering an easily digestible nugget of their stories.

Kill Reply All: A Modern Guide to Online Etiquette, from Social Media to Work to Love
by Victoria Turk

Book cover

Boomers rightly take a lot of flack for their inability to fully grasp the intricacies of modern social media but that doesn't mean the rest of us are necessarily that much more savvy than our parents. Social media now commands an outsized impact on virtually every aspect of our lives, and with real world implications.

Don't get cancelled, check out Kill Reply All by Victoria Turk instead. This helpful field guide to all things social media will teach you everything you need to know about email etiquette, online dating, mansplaining and the ins and outs of being an upstanding digital citizen in the 21st century.

Writing a dating profile is hard. Perhaps that's why so many people don't bother, leaving the text box either en- tirely blank or dashing off a few clichés that really say nothing at all. On the positive side, this means that it's really not diffi- cult to be better than most other people.

Start with the basics. Think of your profile as a CV for ro- mance: the aim is to make enough of an impression on paper that you get invited to an interview (or, in this case, on a date). You'll usually be asked to give your first name or a nickname. Don't add your surname; you don't want to make it too easy for any old internet stalker to find out your real identity. You'll also need to give some basic information, such as your age, sex/ gender, and location— "A/ S/ L," as it was called in the olden days, when people still used chat rooms. Do not lie about your age. It's deceitful, it's sleazy, and it's hardly an auspicious start to a relationship if you're lying to someone before you've even met.

Some sites will ask for more specific information— Are you religious? Are you a smoker? Do you like to be tied up in bed?— and then there's usually a spot to write a brief personal bio. Keep it concise and upbeat. You're trying to make yourself look approachable; this is not the place for philosophical mono- logues, deep and meaningful chats, or your in- depth opinions on Brexit.

Here's a simple four- part template to get you started:

1. A catchy opener

This is your ice- breaker. Keep it short and sweet.

2. A description of yourself

This is basically your Sleepless in Seattle moment. You want to summarize who you are in just a few words— like " Full- time barista, part- time bass player" or "Shy northerner, new in town." Choose something that speaks specifically to the kind of person you are. Avoid listing generic positive traits; people will assume you're decent, kind, and friendly unless you show them otherwise.

You don't really need to describe your personality— that's more easily done through actions than words— but if you want to give it a shot, stick to a maximum of two or three adjectives. A long list of character traits can easily be construed as just one: self-obsessed.

"Confident"— Loud
"Mature"— Boring
"Old- fashioned"— Sexist
"Adventurous"— You did a gap year
"Fun"— Promiscuous
"Introverted"— Narcissistic
"Ambitious"— Workaholic
"Spontaneous"— Basic
"Open- minded"— Kinky
"Creative"— You work in marketing
"Spiritual"— You went to Burning Man once and like to tell everyone that it's "not just an event, it's a state of mind"
"Easygoing"— You won't text back

3. Your hobbies and interests

How you spend your time says a lot more about you than any self- description could. There's also another reason this section is important to include: it gives people something to latch on to when they first message you. As much as you're trying to give a sense of who you are, you're also offering up a ready- made ice-breaker, giving people the opportunity to say "I like horror films, too" or "What's the last sci- fi book you read?"

Again, make it specific. Literally everyone likes "food, fun, and travel," and you're helping no one with the classic "I like going out and staying in." It's more remarkable if you don't like coffee and pizza than if you do, and I refuse to believe that anyone feels that passionately about the Oxford comma.

A few examples will do; you're just trying to give a sense of your taste, not an encyclopedic breakdown of your cultural psyche. Relationships are not made or broken on the back of the exact ranking of your top 10 punk records (as long as the Clash are in there somewhere).

On mobile apps, emoji are often used as shorthand for hobbies. If you're wondering why so many Tinder users seem to be keen gardeners, know that the leaf emoji usually implies an interest in marijuana, not rhododendrons.

From KILL REPLY ALL: A Modern Guide to Online Etiquette, from Social Media to Work to Love by Victoria Turk, published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Victoria Turk. Originally published as Digital Etiquette by Ebury Press, 2019.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.