Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Wounderful Wide Web

Internet dating, comes in many forms. One particular type that has been fascinated me was is the missed encounter on Craig's list. For those of you that dont know Craig's list, it is a free adds website, extremely popular here in the States, I first came across it when looking for a flat in D.C.. On the site you can get your hands on absolutely anything and everything apart from drugs and arms, but most definitely sex. The missed encounters section is where people come to post messages to people they have met or seen in the hope that they will get into contact. Simple enough you might say, but some of the posts leaves one wondering. Here are just a few examples of posts that appear.

Tysons Corner 9ish- working on your laptop - w4m - 25

Reply to:
Date: 2006-10-04, 11:34PM EDT

I was with a friend of mine grabbing dinner when I saw you pass by on your way to Barnes and Noble. As we were leaving I saw you working on your laptop by the escalator. I just want you to know that I noticed you and on the rare chance that you see this, I would love to hear from you.

gorgeous woman/starbucks in old town (me-runner taking a quick break) - m4w

Reply to:
Date: 2006-10-11, 11:01PM EDT

you had a skirt on...wanted to say hello but chickened out...

This one is a classic...........

I horked on your tits. - m4w

Date: 2006-05-23, 12:49PM CDT

Me: Tall, dark, (I'm told) handsome. I vomited a little bit of home brew down your blouse. You said, "Cute."

You: Cleavage covered in my vomit.

I think we had a moment. Call me?

Jokes aside, and we can only hope the last one is a joke, the posts immediately came to fascinate me, as they left me with so many questions. I can only imagine how many people with skirts on pass through a starbucks any given day, and what are the chances that on any given day, out of the millions of people who work in D.C., someone who was working on their laptop would be scanning craig's list to see if anyone noticed them? Who are the people that do scan the list hoping that someone may have posted something about someone who vaguely matches their description? Whilst it may seem fanciful to think that anyone would ever have any success trying to meet people in this way, and quite frankly why would you want to try, the list remains extremely popular.

Egged on by a couple of my friends I decided to investigate the phenomena, and took the bold step of making a post myself. I have copied it in below.

Dupont 1pm - m4w - 24

Reply to:
Date: 2006-10-05, 11:11PM EDT

I saw you from the window and almost dropped my frappucino, you were tall had long flowing brown hair. You were dressed to kill. We made eye contact and looked interested, email me if you were.

Now I wasnt even in Starbucks at 1pm, let alone making eye contact with anyone, fortunately my coffee maker arrived from Italy last week and has saved me from the living hell that is American coffee. However I thought that there might have been enough people there that this might work. I sat glued to my computer screen, waiting for a flood of emails from desperate Washingtoniennes.

Unfortunately for my blog, but probably fortunately for me, nothing came. I think that you probably need to have actually had some kind of connection with someone for this to work, rather than just make up a faux encounter whilst round at dinner with friends.

Whilst considering how to further my research, help came from an unexpected source. I was at a concert a few nights ago and a girl asked me for a lighter, I talked to her for at the most 5 minutes before she went on her way, we didnt exchange numbers, I couldnt even remember her name. By the time I woke up in the morning she had already managed to track me down using facebook. The internet networking tool I had only just joined a few days before. I have to admit I was slightly put out by this, but I decided to go ahead and ask her out all the same.

I ended up having a very pleasant evening, with a charming and above all, normal and intelligent girl. Although I admit I had actually talked to her in person before she contacted me off the internet, I myself would probably not have looked for her on the web (even if I had remembered her name), and it struck me that this was probably more to do with a cultural difference between Americans and Europeans (and Brits are definitely considered Europeans here) rather than a product of me being normal. Scanning around Craig's list's international sites seemingly confirmed this. There are far far far more posts on the personals sections of the US sites than there are in other places. In other international cities they mostly seem to be prostitutes and Americans posting. Neither has internet dating taken off in Europe in the same way that it has here.

It suggests that Americans seem to be far more comfortable meeting new people than we Europeans are. Americans for whatever reason are, much friendlier to strangers, people smile and greet each other in the street, in every shop you are asked how your day is going by the person at the checkout and this is often a lot less fake than we Europeans like to think it is. The girl at the bar spoke to me for five minutes and wasnt trying to sleep with me! This daily ritual of interaction with complete strangers, however superficial makes people far more confident when meeting others for the first time, something that can only help in an age when 'networking' is deemed so important. With less fear of meeting strangers, there follows more of a willingness to do so and hence the birth of networks that allow this to happen.

I am not trying to suggest this is the only reason why people seek each other over the World Wide Web, one could also make the case for loneliness, but without the implicit trust required to spend the evening with a complete stranger im sure these meetings would not happen, no matter how lonely one might be.

I can only leave you with the suggestion that we make more of an effort to be nicer to strangers. If not for the betterment of society as a whole, few are as altruistic as to think in such grand terms, and not because you have a particularly strong desire to get involved with internet dating, but because, as my beloved professor was so fond of telling me about reading the classics of modern political economy, it will make you a better person.


Vitalia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vitalia said...

I think someone is looking for you on the craigslist. Check out this:

Vitalia said...

oops, the above link maybe not working. try it again:

Vitalia said...

put a dot and html to the end, for some reason I couldn't copy the whole link...