Desperately Seeking …


I’m being pursued by Chinese girls who want serious relationships. At least that’s what the internet keeps telling me. Sometimes I see their names, from the almost-plausibly-named Sue to Rebecca to Louise, each name slightly more inappropriate for the picture it captions than the one before. I’m sure I saw "Bert" from Wuhan last week, but that may have been a day with too much coffee.

I have to point out that it isn’t my fault. All I wanted to do was find an example of code that would tell me the amount of disc space a database table occupies. That’s hardly in the realm of claiming you buy Playboy for the investigative journalism. But sadly, it appears the demographics of database administrators and people who would like a "serious relationship" with a Chinese victim of Photoshop intersect so closely that every time I go looking for the size of my table, I’m presented with more serious ladies.

What constitutes a serious relationship? They look quite cheery. Not the sorts who would only ever want to spend the evening discussing Leninist Marxism. Maybe they were trying to say it would be a genuine relationship, where there would be no tomfoolery, no buckets of water stacked on top of half open doors, no boxing gloves on springs inside birthday presents.

But never mind that. Never mind the twin stereotypes being reinforced, of lovely Chinese ladies, desperate for a guy who’s great at multicolumn clustering and optimizing tablespaces, but who can’t ever succeed with women without electronic assistance. What I was trying to do was get a page on my screen about database table sizes, but without any pictures of seriously Chinese serious relationship seekers. In serious bikinis.

I’ve nothing against such people, but we are in an open plan office not entirely full of the sort of heterosexual male whose only comment on seeing the serious ladies would be "yeah, I’d show her the size of my table". That’s right, I don’t work in a combination of a data warehouse and a 1950s garage. There are women walking past my desk and there’s not much difference to the casual onlooker between me looking at databases all day, and me looking at pictures of women in their underwear. All day.

I could say, every time a woman approached, "yup, just researching databases, not looking at half naked ladies" but that’s not going to make me look any more innocent. It will be like a Freudian slip ("an item of clothing designed to draw attention to the body part it is ostensibly intended to conceal"). No, I figured I needed to use more extreme tactics.

So I started clicking on the serious relationship adverts.

Modern web advertising often charges advertisers per click, so I figured if I clicked a few times, costing them money, but didn’t do anything else, they’d realize I was outside of their target audience and the adverts would go away. Any sensible advertiser would include a frequency cap, to avoid showing even the desperate database administrators too many serious relationship seekers.

If you click through, you see more ladies: Sue and Francesca and Chloe and Ruth and Arthur and Ming Fan. I didn’t even glance at them, I went back to the database page again. But they followed me.

There’s a web advertising technique called ‘remarketing’ which means that if somebody looks at your site but doesn’t buy something, you keep showing them adverts for the last thing they looked at. This is the great hope of advertisers round the world, even if it’s equivalent to a butcher chasing vegetarians down the high street, brandishing a string of sausages, just because they idly peered through his window and didn’t buy anything.

And of course now I’m being remarketed serious ladies in search of a relationship. At every corner of the internet, Winnie and Fan and Terry are there, winking at me and hoping I’ll react. In real life, if I claimed I was being pursued by Chinese women who kept showing me their underwear, you’d know there was something seriously wrong with me. On the internet, it’s true, and there’s no way to make them stop.

I considered trying to throw them off the scent by visiting sites catering to men who want serious relationships with men, but that would only compound the problem. I’d be irresistible to these virtual men as well as the women, and probably in trouble with the government too. I’ve been racking my brains, wondering how to decoy them all somehow; I just want a peaceful life, where I can read about hard drive sizing and not have potential relationships rammed down my throat.

Serious.


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