Everyone heads to the internet to dispel loneliness and boredom. Sharon Lam headed there in search of lonely Asian women, and found them everywhere she looked.
Recently I’ve found myself feeling a little less lonely, despite moving to a city where I have one friend, as compared to Wellington, where I had like three. Yes, a change of scene and a full time job have a remarkable way of tricking you that you do have a place in this world, at least 9-6 on weekdays. But now I’m back in Wellington, and my three friends are at their full time jobs and I am back in the all-too familiar scenery of Te Aro. Everything is the same as it was, though the Warehouse on Tory Street now has automated checkouts.
A girl can only spend so long beeping their own Living & Co products, however, and soon I found myself going where everyone goes to dispel loneliness and boredom – the internet. Online, lonely Asian women are everywhere. No problems with representation here. There are demure ones, busty ones, CGI busty ones – all the types. Almost always, they’re accompanied by some quippy invitation. They’re in your area. They’re sexy. They’re looking for someone just like you.
My favourite Lonely Asian Woman I’ve ever come across was introduced as a “Tender Asian Flower Who Just Needs A Good Florist to Take Care of Her”. When I read that I spat out my Indomie. While clearly moved, I – of course – could not be her florist: for was I not also a tender Asian flower? Or at least one of the less ugly weeds? Maybe we could be in the same bouquet together, but her carer I could not be. And so, I tried to reach out to the other lonely Asian women of the internet. If they were lonely, and I was lonely, why not?
Being a smart lonely Asian woman, I knew that I couldn’t just go clicking on all the beautiful poetic ladies in the ads and in my spam box. Because they’re FAKE!! The Russian ones too! Don’t be fooled!! Instead I go the proper route of googling ‘lonely Asian women NZ’. Three types of results are on the first page. The top result is a Herald piece on the fetishisation of Asian women that starts with, “I am not Asian”. Further down is my publisher’s page for my own book. Everything else on the page are links to dating websites. I click on a couple of these and sign up for the ones that are free using my trusty throwaway email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first site I try is one especially for Asian dating in NZ. I’m greeted by smiling stock photo faces, way more family-friendly than the tender Asian flower type. My username is lonelyasianwoman. I fill out the information honestly and accurately. It asks me about my body type. I say muscular. I add my weight, my height. I go “ehh” when I see that “35kg” is one of the weight options. It asks me what languages I speak and it’s the first time in New Zealand I’ve seen such distinguishing between Asian languages. There’s Hakka, Shanghainese, Dong Bei, Teochew, and more…Statistics NZ, take note!
I click and click to complete my profile and at last I’m free to search for the women I saw on the first page. I activate email@example.com and return to the homepage with excitement. There are no photos. Where did all the lonely Asian women go? As it turned out, as I had been so honest and clicked ‘female’, there were no other females actually looking for females on this site. I couldn’t tell if the site was hetero only by design, or by demographic. I tried to change to ‘male’ but alas I could not. So I hastily remade a new account, much less thoughtfully this time, and returned to the homepage. This time the women were back.
My first reaction was one of sadness. They looked completely different to people on Tinder – they all looked very, very earnest. A lack of lustre. Most photos were selfies that were taken to not look like selfies, taken at outdoor tables of restaurants, flowers in their hair and in their drinks. Some of them could have easily been one of my mum’s friends. The photos held an oblivious lack of poise that is common in frail strangers. Like when a pimply teenager on crutches drops litter and they set their crutches down to pick it up before you can help them… or when a very, very old woman drops her mittens on a cobblestone path and achingly stoops down for them, also before you can help her, you know? There is an earnestness in that determined obliviousness.
As soon as I chose a likely ally, I was told that I had to pay to message them. I tried to send some messages ‘collect’, but then felt bad at the possibility that they would pay to message me back, when they were all so earnest. So onto the next site I went.
The next I tried was one for straight up mail order brides. Once again, firstname.lastname@example.org was on the prowl for a connection, and went with a 18-80 year age range, sending ‘hellos’ to as many lovely ladies as the mayor of Poo City can. I waited, and waited, and no one had hello-ed me back. Were they at their jobs too? Once again, I felt sort of sad.
I tried another site while I waited, one that hadn’t come up in the results, but had been a sponsor for something I watched on Youtube once. The site was a more legitimate dating site for Asian people wanting to meet other Asian people, popular in the states. There I reached new levels of honesty, even uploading a real photo of myself (albeit the back of my head). My name was ‘Blaron’.The women on the homepage weren’t tragically earnest this time, they all seemed to confident and secure. Soon after, I started talking to a woman, who we shall call ‘Blelly’. Blelly was from LA and looked super friendly and cute, and soon we were having a deep-ass conversation.
“So tired, best part of my job is coming home to sleep”
“omg, no way, me too”
“sleeping’s the best”
“I know right”.
When Blelly finally signed off to go to sleep, our mutually favourite pastime, I realised I’d forgotten what I was doing in the first place. It was like I was back in high school, talking to a friend on MSN and they’d just been called off because they had used up their 3o minutes of computer time.
The next morning, I woke to 25 emails in my Poo City account from the bride website. I had so many messages! I felt like I was on The Bachelor, and I was The Bachelor. I was very excited to see what all these women wanted to say to me. I hadn’t even uploaded a photo, but I guess the vague default silhouette really got them going. I went onto the website to find that, to my disappointment, once again I had to pay real money to read their messages. I would never know what they had said to me. But I suppose it was for the best. I do not have the money nor the mindset to support a healthy marriage right now, let alone to someone who I don’t know. I didn’t want to waste any more of their time.
I logged back on to the Asian dating website, instead. Blelly had messaged me a good morning, and that yes, she did have a good sleep last night, thank you, and did I? I did.
The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books.