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Molly Roth
Courtesy Molly Roth

This artist is making comics out of creepy OkCupid messages

After years of shit set-ups, Molly Roth decided to give up online dating – turning her profile into a ‘voyeuristic sociological pseudo-study’ instead

For women, the world of online dating can be treacherous. Aside from all the awkward chat and the meticulously planned get-out scenarios, there’s also the wilderness of weirdos you’re stuck having to maneuver through. Unfortunately, it seems like they’re everywhere: and even when you think you’ve escaped them, they’re pulling you back – polluting your inbox with hopeful ‘u wanna fuck?’s and ‘beautiful lAdy we marry?’s. 

For Molly Roth, these sorts of responses became a little too much to handle. After three years of fruitless online set-ups, the New York artist found herself lumbered with nothing but a strong sense of exhaustion and an inbox full of sinister come-ons. As a result, she began to give up on the idea of finding Mr. Right and turned her attention to something else entirely – viewing her OkCupid profile as a “voyeuristic sociological pseudo-study”, and making comics out of the convos.

In a bid to prove that the experiment was in no way “mean-spirited”, Roth refused to publicly shame the senders by keeping them anonymous. She also only used messages from persistent types, who she hadn’t responded to, and who she never met up with. “I have sent so many messages on dating apps that have gone without a response, and there have definitely been some drunk evenings when I awoke to bizarre messages that I had sent out, so I don’t necessarily see myself as above the occasional unfortunate come on,” Roth says. “I was genuinely trying to meet people.”

“Sometimes I feel like men imagine a pixelated floating vagina with boobs on the receiving end of their messages”

Roth admits that creating the comics helped to remind her that these faceless predators were, in fact, actual humans. “Sometimes I feel like men imagine a pixelated floating vagina with boobs on the receiving end of their messages,” she shared in an open essay on Vox. “It bothered me that so many men felt content with these one-sided conversations – ignoring even my clear message transmitted through silence – as if the idea of ‘me’ as a sentient being were inconsequential.”

Now, though, they’ve become unknowing collaborators – helping the artist create her own feminist comic based on the strange and shameless approaches they’ve adopted. “The problem is not necessarily with individuals,” she muses. “It’s that there are these built-in expectations of how a romantic interaction should go that are accepted as true and right.” She adds that, while men are often the perpetrators, gender is still not the biggest issue. “There are definitely men who are respectful and there are women who act like total creeps... Internet dating creates a disconnect between people whose ultimate goal is presumably to make a connection.”

Despite all the pervy weirdos, Roth is keen to emphasise that she’s met a lot of worthwhile people in the online world – and that the whole process has actually been quite a therapeutic one. “I’m a fairly nervous and insecure person, but dating online helped me get better at talking to many different people,” she admits. “I used to try to compromise my values or deep-seated personality traits in order to ‘make things work.’ Now, I am much better at accepting it when I’m incompatible with someone else, and recognising that neither person is ‘bad’ but rather ‘different’.”

And Mr. Right? “Interestingly enough, I’ve been dating someone who I met IRL,” she adds, finally. “I would never have expected it to work out that way, but such is life.” 

Follow Molly on Instagram and Twitter, and see more of her work here