The Ghosts of Dating Apps
Plagiarism of Feelings. Imitation of Romance.
Even if you are going through the stage of sheer skepticism, when looking deep inside your inner world or the outskirts of your mind, you will finally make a confession, “Life is impossible without love.” Yes, dear friend, Life is grounded on the pillars of love, as this is the strongest creational power of the universe... but is it possible to plagiarize the concept of love?
A bitter truth is that the world is satiated with delusional forces that try to convince you that love is an artificially generated notion, not even a phenomenon. Consequently, when supporting a theory of feigned love, we can conclude that every single person who swallows the charmed hook is blinded and, eventually, disillusioned… This way, the myth of love is truly debunked.
The core paradox is that there are “romantic factories” that nurture those fake love theories because pretty lies are disclosed sooner or later. I am not throwing fairy dust into your eyes now, as I am about to write an enticing article about Love Plagiarism, proving that, despite the malevolent attempts to convince good people that sincerity and sacred feelings do not exist, genuine Love can never be plagiarized, no matter how many love letters you steal and learn by heart. I will teach you how to take the varnish off ghostwriters that provide their dishonest services on various dating and matchmaking websites.
Even Love Became Commerce…
"Love of my life, you've hurt me
You've broken my heart and now you leave me
Love of my life, can't you see?
Bring it back, bring it back
Don't take it away from me,
because you don't know
What it means to me…"
While this Queen’s ballad is playing in my head, I am getting ready to face reality and tell you true stories about dating websites and their shameful ghosts. Further, you will understand why I also call the majority of fraudsters involved in those sites “personality plagiarists”.
My friend (let me call him Josh), due to certain circumstances, became one of those impostors in order to earn some money as a student. He soon realized how awful this “job” was, and no money was worth it. By the way, he was not even paid for his efforts, but I will tell you about it later. At first, I will elucidate his responsibilities and how all those “romantic interactions” occur.
It all started quite typically. A first-year student was searching for a job after he realized that he cannot cover all his educational expenses on his own. He was looking for a job and was rejected again and again on the grounds of insufficient experience. Josh was about to lose all hope to find a job when suddenly he was called by a representative of an agency interested in his CV. They introduced themselves as an advanced dating website searching for people fluent in English. The next day, he was heading towards their office to pass an interview, striving to become one of their team members. Guess what, he totally aced it! He wanted to obtain any job so much that he was not even very surprised to find out about his responsibilities that were somewhat awkward. His job task was to chat with various foreigners on the dating website on behalf of beautiful women. However, the app’s users were not aware that they were chatting with one guy instead of 10 gorgeous girls. The most interesting aspect is the way he was earning money – every positive reply of a client brought him points, which subsequently turned into cash. The more replies you got, the more money you earned. Sounds simple! Yet, one more “trap” became clearly visible when he tried so hard to write alluring letters from profiles of hot girls and did not get any response. He spent long hours, writing supposedly romantic messages, brief and lengthy ones, for nothing. The saddest thing is that he was not aware that he would not be paid for the time with no answers.
When Doubts Turned Into Evidence…
You must have realized, up to this moment, why I called it personality plagiarism. They took photos of the women, used them for their ignoble website's purposes, and most of the "victims" even did not know about it. Therefore, it is not about classical plagiarism where you present someone's ideas as your own. This is a peculiar plagiarism when you steal someone's identity and create fake stories based on it.
Logically, the more Josh worked on the dating app, the more questions arose:
What will happen if the girl is invited to dinner by the user “she was flirting with”? Will the real woman go on a date? Do all those women even know that someone is writing on their behalf or using fake profiles with their photos? If a woman asks for some money from their “adherent”, does the woman or the agency receive them? And a final question tormenting my friend was, “Is it all a silly romantic scam and so many people buy into it?”
Josh was working for this agency for one month. So, the salary day came. He obtained a report from supervisors, saying, “You did not earn enough points to receive your salary this month. You should work no less than 14 days, trying to earn more points to be paid at least $100. If you decide to quit right now, you will not receive any money. Thank you for your cooperation. You will become more successful if you try more!”
Can you even imagine his shock and indignation? This person was working 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening throughout the month, and he was not rewarded at all!
Of course, Josh refused to work for 14 days, accepted his loss, and confessed how naïve he was to agree to such a strange misleading position that does not even serve a noble purpose. Obviously, that dating website is not aimed at uniting people, searching for their ultimate matches, positively influencing personal lives. It is just the other way round – it creates illusions for unlucky heart-broken people, trustingly thinking that they would pay for the app and meet the love of their life. They even do not suspect that those girls never write to them! What is more, it definitely tricks and uses young inexperienced individuals desperately seeking jobs. Perhaps, some of their employees earn money, but they get it by manipulation of others: both the site’s users and their new colleagues.
There is one story of my life about a seemingly innocent fraud related to love letters. That may sound weird, but I am sure that my childish "l'amour toujours" plays actually protect me against trusting such matchmaking agencies. I am grateful for having vivid imagination to discern such frauds and clear conscience not to take part in those machinations.
Beware of Love Letters’ Ghost Writers! I Used to Be One…
Although this heading seemingly creates an allusion that I was one of the dating websites’ charlatans as well, this is all about the particularity I have been developing since childhood: confabulation. The only radical difference between ghostwriting and imaginative writing is that I ghosted myself (writing letters on behalf of the person who did not even know about it. Sounds crazy, I can tell). Since “childhood hours I have not been as others were” (thank you, Edgar Poe, for these lines). So, I loved making up stories and convincing people they were true (the latter part of my hobby remained in my storytelling past – and I am not persuading you to believe me).
Well, it is time to reveal one hilarious fact about me: I used to write fake love letters in my early teenage years to make my friends envious of me for having a boyfriend. (Obviously, I had one only in my fantasies.) The funniest thing is that those letters were handwritten, so I made up not only "ingenious" romantic stories (as a 14-yeard old version of a female Don Quixote), but I also tried hard to change my handwriting to make it unrecognizable, readable, and believable. I do not know how I managed to trick my friends – they believed me! Every time I came back from the summer holidays I spent in a different town at my grandma’s, my “chest of stories” was filled with new adventures. Later, during the school season, I did my best to create make-believe letters from that fantasy boyfriend who “missed me so much and could not wait to see me”. The most interesting controversial fact is that my make-believe young darling was a real person I was head over heels in love with. At least, my subject of admiration was genuine, and he could only suspect about it, as I always ran away awkwardly every time I saw him. His name was Paul, a handsome blue-eyed and fair-haired football player, who reminded me of Nick Carter from Backstreet Boys, and he was 4 years older than me. I fell in love with him when I went with my friends to watch a football match between a local team (Paul was its midfielder) and a visiting team.
Of course, I desperately played my own game, so, eventually, my girlfriends started asking more and more questions that were about to call my bluff. The major reason for their suspiciousness was that they did not understand why that romantic lad did not visit me at all.
Why Love Letter Writing is Not My Dream Job
I guess you already understood that I am especially good at writing amorant letters. Hence, the question is, why cannot I earn money by composing "head-over-heels" stories for real people? Indeed, if to think about it, it seems my ideal job is right around the corner. First, not everyone is eloquent enough to express their feelings. Second, a certain category of people constantly looks for romantic partners from foreign lands, but they do not bother to learn the language of the country where their princesses and princes live, not to mention the language of international communication – Her Royalty, English. I can write instead of them, and I can make many of them happy, so why am I still not a rich love content creator? I will tell you why…
One more confession to make and perhaps I will be done with it. Although I never pretended to be someone else, searching for victims to take their money, I was a witness to a romantic fraud I did not initially know I was participating in. The situation was quite similar to my friend’s experience with dating websites. I was a student and earning any extra money made me elated – I finally had an opportunity to buy that red velvet dress and even eat my favorite pizza! So, this job offer found me suddenly. An acquaintance of my acquaintance called me, asking whether I was interested in an interpreting job. They needed a Ukrainian-English translator for quite a whimsical couple – a 65-year-old Australian man and a 23-year-old Ukrainian model. He flew thousands of miles to see her after they got acquainted… yes, that’s right, on one of those doleful “happy prospective marriage” websites.
In this case, it was not personality plagiarism, as the girl willingly gave them her photos to play the infatuation game. What is more, this very agency paid a photographer to make a professional photoshoot for her.
Dating Website Fraud I Witnessed Myself
I met with the girl named Julia to arrive at the previously discussed destination earlier – it was a local restaurant. The moment we got into a taxi, she started talking about the upcoming date, spilling all her ironies, without even trying to conceal her true feelings. What she told me astounded me a little. Here how our dialogue went:
“Oh, I cannot believe those stupid lustful old men still exist! He flew from Australia to meet me here. That is so hilarious! Thank God the agency I am working for is reliable. They pay for those dates on time, and those idiots also tend to be generous. Dreaming about a young and beautiful woman by their side totally takes their brains away!”
I said, "… wait. So it’s not something serious for you?”
She laughed, “Darling, are you kidding me? I have a boyfriend. Why would I want to have something in common with an elderly madman?”
“Ahem, okay… but what if the fraud is uncovered? What would you do?”, I asked.
“Don’t worry. This is not my first meeting with those loonies. Somehow, I got popular, ha-ha. I meet with them several times, and when they become too persistent or go way too far, the company handles the consequences. There are different variants of how to disappear with a clear reputation. Wait, are you still interested in translating this “dramatic play”? If you are too honest, it may be quite threatening to stick to the plan. Why the agency hired you if you don’t know what it is all about?”
“No, ahem, I’m interested in it. I was not informed that this was not for real, that’s it. I actually don’t care what your intentions are. I am here to be an interpreter and earn money.”
That was my decision, despite some doubts I was having in the middle of our conversation. Initially, I was not aware of the scam, but then I decided to participate in it. Why? Out of curiosity (I wanted to witness “the show” with my own eyes), and because of living on a shoestring as a third-year student.
“Dear Julia, my darling Julia…” and Julia Does Not Care
I, an amateur interpreter, and Julia, an amateur model (but allegedly a professional heart-breaker) arrived at the restaurant where this crazy date was about to begin. A waitress guided us to our reserved table and we started waiting for the show, which was impossible without our Australian knight. Several minutes later, we saw quite a whimsical figure crossing the hall with a not very refined bouquet of flowers – it was messy, as if he made the bouquet himself, deciding not to spend money on the florist. The restaurant was spacious, so we were able to watch our special guest all the way he was approaching us. His appearance was truly strange: a black hair of medium length, which was obviously dyed, an old-fashioned grey costume, and the look on his face of total admiration. My first thought was, “Wow, he looks like professor Snape in a reversed dimension, as if someone put a mockery spell on him, making him lose his powers, and what is even worse, housed him with muggles who defy everything magical. At least, he is smiling. He seems to be happy.” I noticed how startled Julia was. The only thing she said was, “Oh my…”
And then the strange game began. He recognized her because he had previously seen her photos. Apparently, she was also not the one who was chatting with him directly, as she did not know English. The man gave the girl his bouquet and kissed her hand. “I am so pleased to meet you at last! Let us start getting to know each other better. You are even more beautiful in reality, Julia.”
Then, he introduced himself to me, “My name is Aiden. Please make sure that you translate everything I and Julia say.” I agreed, what else could I do?
Aiden started with a monologue, praising Julia’s beauty. Suddenly, he was talking about his plans to take her to Australia. My astonishment was growing from the moment I realized he had a precise vision of their mutual future. Instead of responses, Julia was mostly smiling, and I suspect she was even scared of his persistence. The weird Australian man was describing his house, the most beautiful rooms, a room he prepared for Julia. He abruptly switched the topic again, mentioning he had a remarkable villa in Bali where they could live during their honeymoon. Yes, this was not a contextual mistake – Aiden envisioned her as his wife… the girl who was not evening talking to him, neither in the virtual world of the dating app, nor during the live conversation in reality. He was 65 and she was 23, and the man truly believed that Cupid pierced their hearts.
To cut a long story short, my job was basically interpreting his love odes to the girl who did not care. The man was over the moon and he did not even allow himself to notice her smiley performance, her foul play every rational person could see. The dinner was over, he paid me for translation and lightheartedly gave Julia 300 bucks. “Buy a pretty dress for tomorrow’s evening. I am sure our second meeting will be even more special.”
You do not have to be a fortuneteller to guess that the second date never took place. She earned her money for the fraud and, probably, shared something with the agency. That was part of her salary. I do not know how they explained Julia’s disappearance to the unfortunate Australian man. I have no idea what happened later, whether he accused them of fraud or not. I never contacted this dating website again and, thankfully, there were no similar offers from them. In any case, I promised myself to turn down such awkward means of earning money from that moment on.
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After that meeting, I was rushing home, thinking, “The world is a crazy place… but I’ll never be an accomplice in such dishonest activities again!” On the one hand, I was simply translating and he wanted his thoughts to be translated. On the other hand, I knew about the swindle and kept participating in it.
This dating app fraud happened ten years ago, but I am sure such sly maneuvers of those websites have not ceased to this day. Love is not an empty word that can be easily distorted and made fun of. Such fraudsters and plagiarists should be exposed and punished, for sure. However, the major problem is that there are so many naïve people around the globe, who register on those websites, waiting for a love miracle to happen.
My other discoveries on the topic will be found in the next article “The Ghosts of Dating Apps. Part II.” Now, I am in the mood for a song recommendation. “Ordinary Love” by U2 teaches us to pay attention to authentic things in life, even quintessential ones.
"We can't fall any further if
We can't feel ordinary love
And we can't reach any higher,
If we can't deal with ordinary love..."
(to be continued…)