In a recent Salon cover story, pop culture love maven Heather Havrilesky plumbed the depths of online dating, paying keen attention to the advent of branding in personal ads, and the impact of niche marketing on the singles scene. She nailed the new vibe -- the unembarrassed inclusiveness of the cyber dating game, the new quandaries of computer-based blind dates. And she asked these pertinent questions:
"As online ads become more aggressive and clever and self-consciously crafted, what impact does that have on the human interactions that result from them? What does it mean to peddle yourself so effectively before you even meet your prospective partner? Can there possibly be any room left for the real, flawed, fragile human behind the ad?
"And after buying into the suave, vegan pancake-maker and cognac-sipping reader of Whitman, can you possibly accept the humble, nervous accountant who stands before you? With such a marketing blitz, followed by frisky, flirtatious instant messaging and countless e-mails, followed sometimes even by long midnight conversations and phone sex, is it remotely possible not to be disappointed with the real thing?"
Well, is it? We would like to know. Stories about relationships are rarely disappointing, of course; and stories about Web-created relationships have elements of mystery, courage and suspense that are hard to find offline.
And so, we would like to respectfully invite our readers to send us their best true-life tales of online dating. We, in return, will print the best of them under one of two headings: "Match Made in Heaven" or "Match Made in Hell." We are guessing that the placement of your stories will be obvious, but, just in case, you should give them the appropriate subject line (Match made in Heaven or Match made in Hell). They should not be longer than 500 words.
It is important to note, too, that all writing submitted becomes the property of Salon. We reserve the right to edit submissions, and cannot reply to every writer. Interested contributors should send their stories either to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.