"...Second, we don't like getting threatening letters from people even though they benefit from the traffic they get from [Catholic dating website]..."
ROFL! The "threat" was me cordially adding to the bottom of my letter that my lawyer would be pleased to offer them more information, if required.
That hasn't inspired them to take down "Modest Millie", but I digress. This most unbusinesslike passive-aggression (in lieu of a quick and apologetic email) is very bad PR, and I could amuse myself very much by writing about it in the Catholic Register, were I not loath to give [Catholic dating website] more publicity. (Update: their PR person, much more diplomatic, has now sent me a polite note. Further Update: And now they've taken down "Modest Millie". Problem solved, albeit with their head-shaking over the "odd" situation. Yeah, professional writers LOVE to have their stuff stolen and then be insulted to boot.)
I am glad that some of its members have decided to keep reading Seraphic Singles, but I don't see any economic benefit, unless they buy my book. And my book is definitely not in the spirit of Catholic dating websites, which I think exploit the suffering and loneliness of Single Catholic people. Yes, I know some people do actually manage to find spouses through them--as the Jesuits teach, God in all things.*
The snapping and snarling I found on [Catholic dating website's] forum shocked me very much (and made me once again grateful that (A) I no longer subscribe to such things and that (B)Benedict Ambrose never wrote or writes like that). But after thinking about it, I realized that what ailed the men, at least, was that they were horribly lonely, sometimes bitter and in a few cases kitted out with anger goggles. As the focus of their ire, I realized that they could not have been reading my work either word for word or in the spirit it was offered. And, poignantly, they could not have had the slightest idea how they might appear to the woman they were insulting. On the other hand, perhaps they didn't care. Some clearly had a grudge against women.
(Incidentally, I hope the woman who was posting my stuff wasn't kicked off her dating site. I believe she initially meant well, and I initially took the posting as a compliment. As for her decision to link to my photo (see above) to mock my appearance, this was nasty, but I'm not angry any more. We are all sinners, and we all screw up occasionally, for whatever reason. So if you are sorry, poster ...)
Religious websites can be very nasty. B.A. has a great devotion to "Ship of Fools", an ecumenical Christian (I believe) website where Christians of all stripes practise apologetics, polemics and seething rage. Once again, the posters probably have no idea of how awful they appear in the eyes of strangers. And yet most of them are probably very nice people.
It's amazing what people will write when they think they are anonymous which, unfortunately, they very often aren't, on account of leaving too much information about themselves on the internet. So my unsolicited advice today, my dear Singles, is to remember, whenever you write something, that someone somewhere might know who you are, and that the objects of your derision might find out what you say about them. I myself have gotten into trouble more than once by describing anonymous people at anonymous events, for somehow someone always seems to recognize them and inform them of their new internet immortality.
But besides that, you will want to put your best face forward in public, as the internet actually is, so as to look like the ladies and gentlemen you actually are or are striving to be. And, since I know many of you long to get married one day, I will let you in on not such a big secret: you don't have to pay a monthly fee to meet Catholic Singles on the internet.
Across the Catholic blogosphere there are witty, intelligent Catholics who write entertaining blogs about their favourite interests. Many are married or priests or vowed religious. But many others are indeed Single. Since bloggers enjoy writing about themselves, who these Single people are will become quite apparent as you read a variety of Catholic blogs. Perhaps I should begin keeping a list.
As many of you know, I met my husband through my blogs. He was a friend of two men who read my blogs, one who seemed to do so to engage me in theological battle and also because two of his best female friends (one Single, one now Religious) were avid fans. (Bless them!) He himself kept a blog, and I thought it--and therefore him--very funny and witty. And my first impressions were not wrong.
So, my dear little Singles, of whom I am fond because I was Single so long myself (and did so many dumb things because I was Single and unhappy in it), that is my advice to you. If you are feeling lonely, don't go to Catholic dating sites. Go to the Catholic blogosphere and make friends with the bloggers. Become a Catholic blogger yourself, writing as well and as charitably as you know how, and prudently examine the offers of friendship that are made to you.
Money can't buy you love.
Update: I have now received a belated but polite email from [Catholic dating site's] PR person promising to look into it.
Update 2: And also a nice message from the help desk after a brusque message from the co-Founder, who shares the Christian name of the chap quoted above.
*Berenike would like me to firmly state that KathTreff, an Austrian Catholic matchmaking service, does not exploit people. She knows the people who run it, and says they are normal working Catholics hoping to spread the gospel of life in Austria. Presumably they do not send out ads reading "Alone this Christmas/Valentine's Day/Easter? You don't have to be."