W4M, but I will take anything

It's easy to log on and search for someone with the exact specifications that you desire in a mate.

In my last column, I wrote about the connection between social networking tools and how the rising popularity of sites such as Facebook and MySpace is inevitably contributing to developing people as “products.” While I hate to (again) make this a two-part column, I did want to elaborate on my conclusion more, as I realize that some of the arguments I bring up are condensed to the point where some of the connective tissue is lost.

That said, I want to focus on two quotes. In the first I state that these sites “are in many ways ideal situations: No one risks being vulnerable, so no one, really, can be rejected and, best of all, no one wastes more of their time than they absolutely have to.” In the second, I state that in my opinion, “we are settling for less genuine methods of intimacy Ö simply because it’s easier.” OK, so it’s not that hard to grasp – I don’t think -but regardless, how fun would it be to look at this in terms of simple economics? So much fun. I bring the fun, folks, every time!

I’m not well-versed in much besides “Sesame Street” reruns, but Wikipedia tells me that the law of demand states that, “in general, price (or value in this case) and quantity demanded in a given market are inversely related.” Thus, the less of something there is, or the more difficult it is to attain, then the more we want it – or at least that’s how my guy friends explain why they’ll “dog a hottie” for weeks. Sites such as Facebook work somewhat on this concept, except obviously it’s reversed. Where before the birth of MySpace lovelorn co-eds had to get to know someone and do their courting by way of more “traditional” methods (such as asking for someone’s number, let’s say), we are now able to circumvent these “tedious” steps simply by clicking on an online profile.

This heightened level of screening certainly has its benefits, but more often than not it functions as a pseudo-shield from behind which we coordinate – indeed perfect – our romantic/sexual advances to the degree that we risk losing any emotional authenticity whatsoever.

Those fond of parables will agree that the quote of “nothing lost, nothing gained” fits quite nicely in this situation. Sure, it’s easy to log on and search for someone with the exact specifications that you desire in a mate, but is it necessarily a better system?

True intimacy is built upon many things, but one of the most important is the ability to be your most vulnerable self with another human. It could be argued that social networking sites allow for a greater number of connections to be formed, but how often are those relationships taken outside the Internet? And how valid are they, considering that we are expected to glean an idea of someone’s personality based entirely on what’s listed in their “Interests” section? Lastly, my question is: How does this in any way mirror “real life?” Or is this what “real life” is destined to become? In any case, it’s been made clear to me that if I want a date anytime soon, I better remove “Barbies” from my interests and change out that picture of me and my pastor!

Kat Hargreaves welcomes comments at [email protected]