Monday, November 30, 2009

Does Facebook really matter?

Meg raised a valid question in last Wednesday's "Facebook and exes" post.

Does Facebook really matter?  Does it really hold any legitimate significance over our lives?  If we just ignored it and let it all go, would anyone care? Would anything change?

Short answers: 
  • Yes, it does.  
  • Yes, but we control the significance.  
  • Yes, but they wouldn't care as much as we would.  
  • And yes, things would definitely change; just ask my friend Stephane.
So - yes - but let's get technical.  Facebook can definitely get you fired and likely get you hired. Facebook can prompt a fight with essentially anyone in your life.  It can get you discovered by an agent.  It can get you sued by any number of people.  It can help you get into or make you get out of a relationship.   The list goes on. You get the point. 

But all of that just means that Facebook has effects.  It can make things happen simply because of the way it is set up to work. It is a mechanism by which things are made to matter.

Meg's question seems to be more along the lines of, should we care about Facebook? Should we want slash need it?  Does it hold significance beyond its undeniable powers?

I still think the answer is yes, but it's a different kind of yes - a yes that's connected to the way you use Facebook.  Take my Mom:  

My Mom joined Facebook so she could see the pictures my sisters and I post and re-connect with friends and family who live far away.  Her usage is amateur, to say the least.  Case in point, a few months ago she called and said, "I hate Facebook.  It's too hard for me. All I know how to do is the newsfeed." My Mom uses Facebook as a simple, social device.  She doesn't use it to broadcast herself and her life to an online community.  Her profile picture is the same as it was the day she joined - a picture of my entire family.  

Some people use Facebook like my Mom does.  Those people are generally over the age of 30 and do not work in creative or marketing businesses.  

Most people use Facebook as a virtual representation of their every move.  Thrice-daily status updates.  Immediate photo album posting.  Manic checking of other people's profiles'. When most people hear that someone can't access Facebook at work they say, "oh my god - I would die."  Ask any girl aged 18 to 30 and she'll have an opinion on the mobile upload of the engagement ring immediately post engagement (mine: tacky).

Like it or not, for many of us Facebook is a digital extension of our three-dimensional lives. And if you are sitting there going, "I don't broadcast my every move on Facebook" but you spend time every day seeing what other people broadcast then you're just as guilty.  

Facebook matters - even if it shouldn't - because we allow it to matter. We feed it with significant content about the details of our life so that others can see and feel about those details, and in turn we see and feel about everything we observe.  I have decided not to date people based on their collection of photos, and am absolutely certain guys have done the same to me.  I've essentially ended the prospects of continued friendship with people by ignoring their friend request.  And yes, of course I've posted specific status updates so specific people will see them.  

Is that silly? - probably.  Is it immature? - yes.  Is it harmful in ways I probably don't realize right now? - definitely.  But does it "matter" - yep, big time - and the only way to change that is to leave it all behind. 

Over two years ago (right Stephane?) my friend Stephane left the Facebook.  He was tired of how much it mattered, how surface some relationships were starting to feel, how everyone relied on it to communicate.  It was taking too much of his time away from other projects and passions, so he went through the incredibly arduous process of disappearing from le book (you have to E-MAIL them to ask to be removed in all ways) and is now free from the social network.  

It sounds so weird to say, but his life is not the same.  Facebook mattered - at least in his world - to the point where he went through a significant shift post-leaving.  Thursday, his story in full.

But for now, I leave us with the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent," and in that same vein (it's a stretch but stay with me) no social networking site can make you feel...well...anything I guess - without you letting it. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

20-Nothings thanks-giving

If 2009 taught me anything it's how very not easy it is to be a this-aged person trying to live in Manhattan, successfully. National economic depression, a 9-5 that's more like 8-8, some relationships that can't really be described as such and the arrival of leather leggings (who can wear those?!?!). It can be difficult to find the silver-lining, glass-half-full moments in these years of, "what am I doing." Also, I still don't have a closet in my bedroom.

But this holiday of thanks and day off work it brings have given me time (literally) to think about the things that made my life in 2009 a lucky place to be. The short list:

  • Anna still charges under a dollar a pound to wash, fluff, and fold my clothes and never lets me out of her site without a compliment - "Jessica, this straight hair do you do now some days is hot, looks nice." No matter how awkward it is...
  • Abby moved from the East to West Village reducing the commute from my apartment to hers from 6 blocks to 3.
  • My sister Dani gave me the iTouch that came free with her new MAC so I can now participate in the "there's an app for that" revolution and appear as though I have an iPhone.
  • Rachel Maddow got her own show because she was popular enough to warrant her own show.
  • Overdraft protection...
  • The fact that you can wear 2-week Acuvue Oasis contact lenses for 3-weeks without much suffering or risk of eye infection. Sorry Jeff.
  • Bacon salt - now in four flavors! And Ottomanelli's on Bleecker for opening at 8:30 am and selling it.
  • Lucinda at Leverage Management. There's a longer story there, but we're still writing it.
  • Effable Arts. Because at this time last year I didn't know how to spell playwright, let alone be one. (Donate, today!)
  • V Bar on Sullivan between West 3rd and Bleecker. My location muse and home of the only 50 cent coffee refill this side of the Mississippi.
  • That Facebook feature that lets you hide all of someone's updates so you don't see them on your wall.
  • - with which I will self-publish a book before 2009 is up - promise
  • That day that President Obama drove down my street in his motorcade and waved out his window to my stoop.
  • My Mom - for always calling the moment someone posts a nasty comment on this blog. "Can you believe that little shit! I have a right mind to comment right back! How dare they!"
  • My Dad - for editing said book I keep promising to get published slash everything I've ever written
  • Geanna. There's too much to write.
  • Alt. Tab. If you know what that means, you hear me loud and clear, Chris.
  • Google reader, Automatic bill-pay, transit check, and all other technologies that prevent me from having to think.
  • The Dirty Jane martini at Jane restaurant on Houston. See above reason.
  • Having enough sisters that there is always someone to give and receive the kind of TLC that only sisters get.
  • Writer and friend Blair Singer - because every time I go to say, "I'm not really a writer yet" I remember that he told me I am. (Catch his latest play Meg's Best Friend through December 20th!)
  • The fact that all gchat conversations are automatically saved.
  • Credit card machines in cabs.
  • Credit card machines in cabs. (that's not a typo - I'm just that thankful for it)
  • And once again - and really always - Pierson, for making me start this blog that - in more ways that he or I could have imagined - keeps my life glasses half full and silver-linings much easier to find.

*I'm sorry - that photo was just too funny.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Guest Blogger: Notification: The ex has untagged you in 25 photos on Facebook

Today another hot-and-bothersome topic from Meg over at Blackberries to Apples

As I was putting the finishing touches on my blogger play recently - my very first play, so exciting - I received the following e-mail from my most recent ex.

"I'm really sorry. There's not really any good way for me to say this, but I think I need to de-tag the pictures of us on Facebook. This is not about me erasing or forgetting anything; I have all of these saved on my computer, but more importantly, in my head. I just think it's not such a great idea for me to have them on my Facebook now that we've been broken up for a while. I'm sorry."

Now, as you can imagine, this sort of came out of nowhere and it was kind of shocking to read. Of course, because I am human and I have feelings, my initial gut reaction was something along the dreadful lines of "UGHHHH he's really over me how can he do this owwww this hurts," but the more I read over his words, the more that feeling was replaced with an indignant feeling I'll call, 
Who cares?

Things worth noting: 
1. My ex and I have not been Facebook friends for four months. I unfriended him literally the day after he broke up with me, and when I did so I sent him a courtesy e-mail letting him know. Thus I have not seen his profile since we were dating, and really have no idea what's going on in his FBL (Facebook Life). 

2. He and I have not had a meaningful conversation in more than two months. 

3. The number of photos of us together on Facebook is (was) pretty limited. Maybe 25-30, tops. A small percentage, when you consider that there are nearly 1,500 photos of me currently tagged on Facebook. (Aside: WTF?!)

His e-mail struck a chord in me. It got me wondering - Carrie Bradshaw-style - about the modern break-up, and all that it entails. I imagine that only 10 years ago, the 20-something breakup was a totally different, and likely a somewhat easier, experience. You shared a last coffee or meal with your significant other, or maybe one last phone call - placed from a land line, of course - and that was that. Maybe you made a courtesy call every now and then, just to catch up and say hello, but aside from that, your contact with the person was probably limited to random run-ins - if you had the unfortunate experience of sharing a city - or group outings - if you had the even more unfortunate experience of sharing friends.

But now, it's different. It can take months to purge someone from your social life. Once the initial break-up happens, depending on how close you were with the person and how long you dated, there can be lots of steps required to completely wash him out of your life. If you have an iPhone, you have to delete the text conversation that might literally span the length of your whole relationship. You gotta delete his number from your phone, and any voicemails you might have. You have to avoid reading his blog, which you had probably made a habit of checking everyday. It's best to unfriend on Facebook, and if you can't bring yourself to do that, you have to avoid checking his profile constantly. (I actually have a 
friend who found herself obsessively checking an ex's profile, so she changed her FB password to a Hemingway quote - like, an entire two lines' worth - to discourage herself from logging in. Tellingly, it didn't keep her from logging in at all - she just quickly memorized the quote.)

And lastly, the (apparently?) epic Facebook photo de-tag. Up until this point, I've considered all the previous steps necessary to moving on with my life and really getting over a person. But I don't fully understand the urge to untag. I've actually never untagged myself from photos with any of my exes, and still don't intend to. My hunch is that someone might do this when he starts dating someone new and the new girl doesn't feel comfortable seeing pictures of him and his ex (ahem, that's me) together. And I guess I just don't really get that. The past is the past. I've never had a problem seeing photos of my boyfriends and their exes together; I acknowledge that all the people I meet in my life had lives - and significant others - before they met me. Also, I fully expect my next significant other not to 
care about Facebook photos that range anywhere from several months to more than a year old.

So the over-arching question is this, and I think my lovely host blogstress will soon write a response: Does Facebook 
really matter? Has it become such an important part of our young lives that a courtesy e-mail or phone call is expected when you are about to unfriend your ex or de-tag photos with him? Clearly, some - and likely most - think so. But I'm here to dissent, to say no, to say it doesn't matter.

I find that the older I get - Jesus fuck I'm almost 24 - the less Facebook means to me. In college, it was a big deal. I updated my status a lot, changed my profile information frequently and uploaded photos constantly. The further I move away from college, the more other/better outlets I find for expression - namely, my beloved blog and all its offshoots - and the more I see Facebook as nothing but a useful tool for self-promotion. (Though, arguably, not as useful as 
Twitter.) It's also fun to keep photo albums there and be able to have a commenting community with your friends. But aside from that, the more Facebook itself evolves, with new apps and games and quizzes, the more annoying it becomes.

I do acknowledge that it is undeniable how intertwined Facebook has become with real-life breakups. Going from "In a relationship" to "Single" can be a traumatic experience, as it can lure from the woodwork lots of people you haven't talked to in years (for a reason). It can be a big deal to unfriend someone you once dated, or to see photos of your ex with someone new, or to untag photos with your ex, or whatever. Of course anything along those lines is going to be hurtful to one or both parties - but I would argue that has more to do with the extreme availability of information - combined with the vulnerability of being recently singled - than with Facebook itself. Facebook serves to reflect the very real experiences of being alive - including (but by no means limited to) relationship status, religion, gender and favorite books - but Facebook itself is 
not real life.

I just have to cling to the belief that how we interact with each other in real life - how we actually treat our friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, colleagues and, yes, exes - is what really matters. I have to cling to the belief that how we handle Facebook in all its social intricacies does not wholly reflect how we truly feel about the relationship we once had with someone. I have to cling to the belief that I will eventually find a man who acknowledges my past and doesn't care if there are photos - and, even more revealing, blog posts - on the Internet that hearken back to the days of my ex. I have to believe that there are better things on which to focus my energy than whether there are 1,500 photos of me tagged on Facebook, or slightly fewer. 

You know, like writing an entire blog post about it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

There are two kinds of people in this bar

Somewhere around your mid-twenties it starts to become clear that there are two kinds of people in this (urban) world: drinkers and “people who drink.”

In college we were all drinkers.  Every activity was organized around drinking.  We kept ample stock of drink in every place we lived.  If we were too sick to drink, we wouldn’t go out.  If it were a beer-only party, we’d bring vodka in a Dasani.  If the game started at noon we’d make jell-o shot breakfast bowls.  We drank before all concerts, funny slash depressing movies, and a cappella performances.  We drank so much and so regularly that when we stopped drinking for whatever bizarre reasons, we couldn’t fall asleep. We were drinkers – probably bordering on drinkers with a drinking problem, but those were the times and that was the activity.

Those are sadly no longer the times.

With the start of real life it became abundantly clear that you couldn’t be the same kind of drinker you were in college.  There isn’t time.  There isn’t money.  And there isn’t that same ability to rotate whom out of your 4-man goes to the 9am and gives everyone else the notes.  Your first boss probably graduated from college three to four years before you and knows exactly what three bathroom trips before 10am means.

And so things started to shift – for some people - prompting the drawing of that sometimes very light line between adult drinker and adult "person who drinks." 

Drinkers are still pre-gaming for a night out at the bars, and not just one drink while they straighten their hair.  If someone says, “shots?” on a Tuesday night, drinkers say “good idea.”  After a particularly hard Saturday night out, drinkers are rearing to go for a boozy brunch because they know getting drunk again is the fastest way to get over a hangover.  If drinkers can’t drink for whatever reasons, they don’t go out. They never don’t order a drink with dinner, and that drink is rarely just one beer.  Go to a drinker’s apartment and the first thing they’ll offer you is a drink.  Ask what they have and they’ll say, “beer, wine, vodka, whisky? HHmm, no rum?  Sorry, no rum.” If you’re getting together with a drinker and don’t personally want to drink you have to say, “so can we grab a bite or do coffee instead of drinks?” Drinkers assume you’ll always be drinking.

That, of course, is the extreme. 

People who drink won’t always have a drink with dinner because alcohol isn’t something they immediate connect with a meal.  If you’re going out for after work drinks they’ll have two, maybe three max, then either head home or just stick around and hang out without a drink in their hand.  When you ask a person who drinks if they want a shot on a Tuesday night they’ll say, “omg, shots on a Tuesday?!” People who drink can sometimes/often get very, very drunk, but afterwards they’ll say things like, “that’s the last time I’m doing that for awhile – I was a complete waste of life the next day.”  Make one-on-one plans with a person who drinks and they’ll say, “what should we do? Movie? Dinner? Ooh, or it’s Thursday, maybe Cocktail?” 

Again, a the maxim, for conversation-sake. 

This isn’t to suggest that drinkers are alcoholics and people who drink are no fun.  You can be a drinker but not have a drinking problem.  You can also be a drinker but not realize you have a drinking problem. And finally, you can be a drinker for pockets of time slipping back and forth into "person who drinks" mode. In a similar vein, you can be a person who drinks and really enjoys it but just can’t make it a part of their life, or you can be a person who drinks out of obligation. 

I brought this topic up with Luke and Rob over after work drinks on a Thursday night.  Rob was drinking jack-and-ginger, Luke, a Corona, and myself the typical-girl vodka soda.  I outlined my perceived differences between drinker and person who drinks.  Rob/Luke agreed that there was a difference but that it was less black and what than I painted (also typical).  Their opinion was that many more people would be drinkers if they could.  Being a drinker is sometimes a product of lifestyle.  Some “people who drink” would be drinkers if they could just find the time to drink more.

Interesting point.  But not as interesting as their position on what guys prefer in a girl. 

My in-going assumption was that a guy is less interested in girls who are drinkers – that in their minds it’s less classy, less controlled, less feminine.  A girl who can drink, great.  A girl who is a drinker to the degree that the guy is, no.   But to Luke and Rob it comes down to how a girl wants to spend time drinking.  In their eyes “girls who drink” down five vodka sodas and go insane on the dance floor ending up a sloppy mess that they have to deal with whereas a drinker is content with you, a beer, and the game.  “You find a girl who’s happy sitting back with a drink at an old, wooden bar after a long day of work – you marry her,” Rob said. "Correct," Luke added. 

Of course that's just the opinion of two guys.  Two guys who probably hail from the drinking camp.  And to me, that's where the compatibility lines are drawn.  It's not as much are you a drinker or do you just drink? It's how does how to you drink fit with how I want to drink.   

...which means I should probably figure out which side I fall into...        

*photo credit - the phenomenally talented Jenny Anderson. Find her work at www.jennyandersonphotography.or

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

If dating is networking then you need to get some networks

Jeff and I were talking about how weird slash hard it is to date while you're in medical school.  "To date" here being defined as "to find people to date, go on said dates, and make plans for additional dates following." And "when you're in medical school" meaning, when you're Jeff.

I would think that medical school, business school, really any kind of higher education would be a hot bed for post-college relationships.  You have hundreds of people of like age with like interests living in close quarters where there are usually lots of bars and restaurants.  It's just like college except you're old enough to realize that you can't get away with calling a flip-cup tournament your first date. 

Then I remembered how dating went for me slash everyone I knew in college...

Having given it proper analysis (because he is a doctor) Jeff had deduced that the issue is a lack of networks.  If dating is a numbers game (which it is) then you need maximum opportunities to find those numbers.  And opportunities - he had found - only expand when you have multiple pools of people to from which to date - making it a numbers and networks game (which is still technically just numbers, but much better sounding).

Take your typical med school class - he explained:  
  • Say it's 300 people. 
  • For argument's sake say 40% of those are in long-term, committed relationships.  (I know, WOW, but I've asked other doctor friends and apparently that's an accurate number across the boards). 
  • So now we have roughly half the class that's unavailable.  
  • Now cut that half in half because only roughly 50% are women, and that's what you're after (well may not you, and definitely not me, but Jeff).  
  • So if we were originally at a student body of 300 you're now around maybe 50 available and eligible women (that's my math, so it's probably wrong, so just assume "not a lot")
  • Then you have to factor in compatibility, attractiveness, general interest in dating, personalities, etc.
  • Long story short - there are about 5 maybe 7 people you actually want to date throughout your entire 4 years of medical school.
But the nurses? I asked.  Awkward because you're not really a doctor yet and it's sort of taboo.  But the underclassmen at the school? I thought.  Yes, maybe, if you bump into one in the library, but you're so busy with school and studying and the hospital that you rarely see anyone outside your class.  Bars in the town?  Yeah, also maybe, but you only go to a few, and it usually ends up being a med school crew.

At that point I gave up.  Yes, I believe there were instances where Jeff could meet people while in med school (and for the record Jeff did), but the issue of this lack of networks was true and problematic. 

I thought back to my first year in Manhattan - I'd just fully committed to skinny jeans and was experimenting with the over-sized knit beret... 

I had my work network ( - a weddings website...), my Boston College alumni network (a group of people I graduated with and some older alumni we'd bump into at game watches), and my high school slash family network (kids from home who moved to the city, family friends who moved to the city, etc.).  I went out, and there were new people to be met, but my access points - my "ins" - if you will, were only within those three pools of people.  And in the numbers game of dating, that's not very many. 

Can you meet someone in medical school? Yes.  Can you meet someone if you move to Manhattan with only two networks to speak of? Yes.  But if you're not meeting someone and you're not expanding your networks - joining something, going with a work friend to an event you typically wouldn't, getting back in touch with old friends from camp, whatever - you're not broadening the base of people you can meet.  

Dating is a numbers game, but there are a lot of ways you can play it.  Wait for your card to come up in the one deck you're playing off, or start playing with more than one deck. 

Jeff recommends the former, and he's a doctor. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

In reality, it's just that our default setting is lazy

A recent gchat between my often wiser younger sister and I uncovered an interesting psychological fact about most people that can be applied to our understand of the male/female dating situation: people are lazy, almost always.  Read on.  

Dani: i'm responding to your blog
trying to think of something funny

it's an interesting idea

Jessie: the calling thing?
or the approaching it backwards thing?

Dani: yeah
to the calling thing

Dani: nevermind
i can't think of anything new to say

Jessie: I have to ask a few more guys about this

Dani: it's not about what is said - it's the effort put forth

Jessie: exactly

Dani: the girl who commented about the letter and emails is right

Jessie: but texting has re-set the expectations around effort
that's the point
that's my friend Meg
she's a peach

Dani: it's not the texting that is the problem, it's the fact that he doesn't think it's important to call

Jessie: right

Dani: it's not worth a phone call if one is necessary

Jessie: the sad thing is - the world doesn't think it's important to call anymore

Dani: it's like when someone comes to pick you up on a date and you live with your parents
they could come to the door
but instead they just call

Jessie: yeah, annoying

Dani: it's an inertia thing
i just read a book about it
do what their default tells them to do
and humans are just that lazy

Jessie: how are the defaults set?
oh interesting
why is my default different?

Dani: but things can drive you to act against the default

Jessie: wait could you write a follow up post about this?

Dani: like actual interest in someone

Jessie: right right
this is v good

Dani: the book i just read says this
it was about investments and how people never change their 401k settings
when they can afford to and should be saving more money

Jessie: why don't they change them?
because they can't experience the future?

Dani: because they don't have any inetia
sorry *inertia

Jessie: hm - I'm having trouble understanding inertia this way

Dani: they are lazy

Jessie: oh
get that

Dani: heres an example
401ks are usually opt in enrollment
like you have to actually go out of your way to enroll in them

Jessie: yep
don't I know it

Dani: and for the purpose of this example let's say that 15% of people opt in

Jessie: okay fair

Dani: because they are lazy and forget or don't care enough
but it's NOT because they don't want to participate

Jessie: makes sense

Dani: and when the enrollment is changed to an opt out plan
only like 5% would opt out

Jessie: makes sense again

Dani: because it's not about the money

Jessie: it's about the effort

Dani: it's about the fact that they would have to put a little bit of extra effort to make it happen
and that's the case for relationships i think too

Jessie: brilliant
okay write this up

Dani: people think that things will just happen if they are supposed to completely disregarding their part

Jessie: well
more importantly I think there's an element of standards here
people allow things to happen expecting minimal effort from others
so others give minimal effort
they can get away with it

Dani: true

Jessie: we'll only ever do what we can get away with
remember high school?

Dani: so complex

Jessie: yeah, but in my mind it's sort of simple
the more self respect you have, the more respect you'll get
you'll just be single longer

Dani: but what about showing respect through example

Jessie: a very good point
but I'd argue that girls needs and guys needs are different

Dani: and dispositions
and inclinations

Jessie: if I never called a guy I was dating I'm not sure he'd be like, "ggrrrr why isn't she paying atteeeention to meeeee?!"
guys/girls communicate differently
and want different levels/amounts of communication

Dani: right

Jessie: so we have to tell them to do it
or ask them I guess
that part's tricky

Dani: hmm
then how do you make it work?
when do you communicate and when do you wait?

Jessie: I don't know
but I think it's a combination of guys not getting mad when we overcommunicate
and us not getting mad when they undercommunicate
AND understanding the other signs that a guy really cares about you
"because he calls me all the time" might not be it...

Dani: right

Jessie: but
it's never going to be even
unless they're gay

Dani: even then

Jessie: and that, as we know, presents a whole host of other issues
mm true
have we solved anything?

Dani: never

Jessie: right

Jessie: I should probably stop writing this blog then

Dani: fair
okay maybe i will go watch some tv

Jessie: good idea
so long as it isn't Sex and the City
I watched an episode last night
set me back at least 4 years

Dani: ugh so unrealistic
NO ONE IS 40 and single and happy

Jessie: Carrie is an idiot
she never should have left Aiden

Dani: AND if they are 40 and single they make WAY better choices

Jessie: I would never leave Aiden

Dani: she's a moron and it's nauseating

Jessie: I know - but the outfits transfix me

I'll talk to you later

Dani: kk

Jessie: byebye

And there you have it.  People are lazy.  Technology makes it so that they can be even lazier.  Some things - money, pride, alcohol, a huge crush on someone... can inspire people to stop being lazy but even then positive reinforcement ("it was really nice that you called to check in the other day. I really appreciate that") or constructive criticism ("it bothers me that every time I call you, you just text me back") are helpful. 

But bottom line: if someone can't overcome all counts of lazy relations for you (never calls, makes minimal effort to see you, doesn't respond to emails in a timely manner, puts friends before you) then they don't really like you in a serious way.

And if someone makes all those mistakes but apparently does like you in a serious way - then you should absolutely not like them. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gchat for thought. Phone calls: chivalry or pleated pants

Last Wednesday, 2:30pm, ghat:


question for you



and id like your reaction

me: ok

Chris: "i think the young culture has gotten to a point where calling has become chivalrous"

me: agree


Chris: kind of awful

me: really, really awful

but really true

Chris: has calling become a turn-off?

me: no

I think it's become an easy way to really show someone you care

Chris: but it's not a turnoff?

me: not for me

Chris: in the age of flings and detachment, isnt it too formal?

me: but girls aren't all the same

And I'd prefer the age of flings and detachment end


Chris: ha, praise the gospel sister

me: so if I called a guy

and that annoyed him a ton

I'd stop seeing him

and if you call a girl

and she's like, "ew why is he calling me"

she's a bitch

Chris: yeah

i think people equate calling with pleated pants

me: HAHA

that's so fucking sad

Chris: they both exist, and some people use them both, but mostly just older people out of touch with style

me: well I'm fighting that

I feel like this calls for one of those SNL Weekend Update segments where they go really?! REALLY?! Calling someone on the phone is a turn-off?! REALLY?!!?!

That aside, this is a moment for learning. 

Sometimes in order to understand the random crap details of dating you have to reverse into things.  Instead of, "should I make X move" or "should I make Y gesture" it's if I make X move or Y gesture and the person is turned off, what does that say about the person I'm pursuing. 

Applied to this issue that would read as, "if I decide to call the girl I'm interested in dating versus just text her and she's totally turned off by that, what does that mean?"

It means one of two things.  She is a sad, strange woman who's lost all ability to talk on the phone or she's not into you.  Call me harsh, but there's not a WORLD in which someone should say, "I was really liking him but then he called me.  Like on the phone. I mean, can we say dealbreaker??"

Same applies the other way around.  If you're calling a guy incessantly and he's calling you back a tad less, fine. He's a guy.  They don't love the phone, as discussed.  But if you're calling a guy every so often and he's exclusively texting you back, weird/rude.  And if a guy ever says to you, "I think talking on the phone is out-dated," run. 

It's the phone people.  Think of it like having a conversation in person except with technology that allows you to be in two different places.

Is talking on the phone antiquated? Yes.  Does that mean doing it has turned into a turn-off? I'm going to say no.  Really no.  Please please please really no.

*it's Blondie because she sang "Call Me."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mystery of the universe: apparently they just want to be friends

Breaking from the New York mag anxieties series for a shift – to another kind of anxiety.  Times are tough.

Here’s a common relational riddle:

You meet someone out at a bar or party.  They approach you.  Their approach has that confusing are-they-or-are-they-not-interested tenor.  You play it right on the edge of well-if-they’re-interested-then-I’m-interested-too…

Time passes.  Unclear flirting continues.  Confusion abounds.  Then as the night is coming to an end the person caps it off with a “so, hey, we should grab a drink sometime – here’s my number” and BOOM, you now have something to talk about at brunch the following morning.   

Now naturally you do your due diligence and run a background check on your new soul mate.  And what do your formerly sexy but now full-on death stare eyes find but, they’re in a relationship.  A relationship-relationship.  A there-are-pictures-of-the-happy-couple-with-family-over-the-most-recent-holiday- relationship.

You’re livid – confused – hurt – hating them – wanting them – trying to remember what Katherine Heigel movie this storyline is from…

AND you now have something to complain about at brunch.

Your friends: it’s fiiine, they must have just broken up! Relationships start and end in rapid fire.  They wouldn’t have approached you if they weren’t interested! This is a small town! People in relationships don’t just go picking people up in broad daylight (note: wrong).

And so you throw question to the wind and shoot that vague follow-up text: hey, great meeting the other night. We should get that drink sometime soon.  Let me know what works!

3 mins. later: hey! Great to hear from you – how’s tonight?

Well – you think – this person is either a conniving, cheating, ass or the future co-creator of my daughter named Olivia.  You set odds at 5 to 1 asshole (ed. note: I don’t know how odds works) because you’ve lost most faith in people, but set the drinks anyway because you’re wrong about most other things in life so why not this too.

Let’s cut to it:

They are in a relationship.  They talk openly of it when you meet. It’s not, “but things are rocky” or “but you caught my eye and I just couldn’t stop thinking about you” or “but I cheat on them regularly so if that’s cool with you, let’s do this.”  And – and this is significant – the unclear flirty/sexual undertone remains.  It is as if this person simply want to forge a friendship with someone that feels very much like those exciting beginnings of a relationship except that’s as far is it will ever go.  

Could that be it?  Assuming you’re not crazy and there is in fact that odd sexual tension between you two, could it just be that this person wants someone to grab drinks and flirt with even though they’re in a fully committed relationship?  And if that could be and in fact is then WTF are you supposed to do?

My position – as previously explored – is that a friendship with someone you actually want to be dating is a bad friendship to be in and an even worse friendship to start if you go in knowing the person is taken.  Unless this person could be a business contact or relation for some other reason (they volunteer, you’ve been wanting to volunteer, they help you start volunteering or some like, good-person shit), run for the hills.  And not because people can’t have new friends once they’re in relationships.  Avoid because your first interest in this person was romantic.  That tends not to go away...without strong lectures from several friends and eventually your mother.

Now - if you are the offender, here is my lecture.  You want new friends of the gender you date, fine.  Knock yourself out.  I've never been one to suggest that once you're in a relationship those friendships have to go.  But you better be damn clear about your intentions and non-intentions with these new friends sos not to lead on said new friends.  Somewhere in the conversation that ends with, "so, hey, we should get a drink sometime" should come, "yep, I live in X neighborhood with my girlfriend."  Easy as that.  

Is there really something so wrong with leaving that detail out when you're making a new friend? Wrong? No.  Suspect, weird, confusing, and misleading, yes.  Right and wrong is up to you to decide. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

More dating issues of New Yorkers: the anxiety of appearing overly enthusiastic

Directly from the New York mag article: "the back burner is a game, and while the [sex] Diarists have various ideas about what constitutes winning they all agree on how you lose: by betraying a level of emotional enthusiasm unmatched by the other party."

In other words - everyone wants the upper hand in the relationship - to be able to say, "she likes me more, so I can bail at any moment and maintain pride."  Having a relationship end is unfortunate.  Getting flat out dumped is embarrassing, and New Yorkers - despite what our post 4am behavior and fashion decisions suggest - do not like to be embarrassed.

What's wrong with openness, honestly, a little admission that you do really like a person and do really want to make it official? Nothing, in theory.  But that joke about the "stage five clinger" from Wedding Crashers is the most quoted line of that movie for a reason - everyone fears the clingy, high-maintenance, too-much too-fast fling. 

For New Yorkers - and really many 20-somethings these days - it's less about avoiding that person who wants you to meet the parents after three weeks and far more about avoiding admitting that you want something serious.  "I really like this guy, and I want to spend more time with him" - fine, acceptable, good luck to you.  "I really like this guy, which is good because I'm looking for the next person I'm with to be the person I marry" - WHOA.  The difference is in that admission that you are ready and eager to commit.  You don't want a friend with benefits, you don't want to hook up without definition.  You want a committed, long-term relationship. 

Now here's where I think most people evaluating the way "we" behave has it slightly wrong. 

It's not that we all want casual relationships with no strings attached because we're in our 20s and fuck serious relationships.  I think it's that we're afraid to say we want more of a relationships and less of a non-binding sexual contract because it's a flat market for commitment seekers. We don't want to be strung along and confused and part of some romantic cold war, but we're afraid that if we fire the "where is this going, because I'd like it to be somewhere real" missal, it'll be all over for us.  And - and here's what's really at the core of this all - we'd rather freeze it out in a confusing dance of who-likes-who-more than have nothing at all.  We'd rather have someone to text and sleep with than no one.

We all want the upper hand, but I think we're confused about what having the upper hand means.  

To many 20-something dating - by any definition - in New York - it means holding the control of the relationship - deciding when it goes from hooking up to more and being clear about who likes who more - holding the cards.  But shouldn't the upper hand really be about holding control of yourself? If you go in wanting a relationship, say you want a relationship, confess you won't keep hooking up if this isn't going to turn into a relationship and then hear, "oh, well in that case, this is over" - don't you walk away with the upper hand?  Isn't it not about the stand off of who leaves who first and more about the root of why the person is leaving?  

I know - no one wants to have any kind of relationship end because the other person didn't like them enough, but in the dance of dating isn't that something you want to find out week six versus month six? 

I admit there is an anxiety of appearing overly enthusiastic going on, but I think at equal play is an anxiety around admitting what we want - especially if it's commitment - because what we want isn't currently selling very well. Dating is a supply and demand economy, and right now - in New York - it's a buyer's market. 

How and when does that change?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The dating issues of New Yorkers: it's an issue of choice

Today's exploration: New Yorker's anxieties around too much choice and making the wrong choice.

There's this crazy stat that if you ate at a different restaurant within the five boroughs of New York for three meals a day, every single day it would take you four or five years to every single one.

Here we don't have certain stores where you can get diamonds, we have the diamond district - and flower district and fashion district...  This city is not about moderation; it's about excess - excess that breeds choice.  New Yorkers have more options for more things than any set of city dwellers in the entire world.  That's not an exaggeration or a brag - it's a fact. 

That's the first issue you have to understand to unpack our dating behavior.  This city is all about choice sans moderation.

The second issue is that everyone knows it.  They knows what New York has to offer, why people come here, aaanndd that many of them are very good looking.  No one comes to New York to settle down.  They don't come here to contemplate life and take a breather and figure out who they are and what they really want.  They come to New York to dive into a career because there are more career options here, to experience as much of the city as possible until they're ready to move on, to go balls to the wall while they're still young enough to appreciate bars open past 4am.  They come to New York for the choice. 

So you have a city in which choice reigns king filled with people who came here because they want as much choice as possible.  It's not that New Yorkers don't want to date or don't know how to date or - frankly - don't have time to date.  It's that what made them become New Yorkers in the first place is not the best recipe for stable, healthy, long-ish term, committed relationships.

The problem with dating in New York is that it's filled with New Yorkers.  

When the New York mag article talks about "the anxiety of too much choice" and "the anxiety of making the wrong choice" it's not only tied to the sheer number of people we have at our disposal (sometimes quite literally).  It's about how easily they can be gotten.  

Yes, New Yorkers have an abundance of choice, but they also have the means to choose.  Cell phones in our pockets 24/7 with numbers for options for dates slash sex.  Facebook on those phones for instant access to what people are doing, when, and where.  Cabs on every corner to hop into when after finding out via Facebook that ________ is out at X bar and "yeah u should come by!"  

It's not that choice is an inherently bad thing.  It's not that people who desire to live in New York are inherently bad partners.  And it's not that having instant access to the technologies of modern dating is an automatic recipe for disaster.  There are exceptions to every rule and every personality. 

But on the whole we're working with a city that's all about it "get it, all of it, however you want it, now!" filled with people who hear that and go, "yes! I want it" holding all the means get it in their hands.  

Dating, at its very core, is a numbers game.  And in the case of New York - filled with all its fickle New Yorkers - more numbers does not necessarily mean more success.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Top 10 Dating Issues of today's New Yorkers

I'd been planning a series on the cornerstone problems/hang ups/issues of modern dating, but then New York Magazine got to it first, so I'll just go off theirs.

Their piece was born out of the Sex Diaries that have become a staple of the Daily Intel site. Each week a different, anonymous New Yorker shares a full week of exploits, thoughts, and often much, much more assigning time-stamps and explanation to every sexually-related issue that presents. They. Are. Fascinating. But even more important - as we learn from this piece - They. Are. Telling.

The author read every single Sex Diary published since the columns inception in April of '07. That's 141 entries equaling over 800 pages of clues into the minds of sexually active Gothamites.

After 800 pages, the patterns emerged. We've got some issues - categorizable ones - that speak to things like dating in a technological era, dating in a mega-city, and dating as career people. Fascinating stuff.

Sprinkled throughout the next posts I'll explore the issues New York mag identified (note: they call them "anxieties") - my thoughts on what goes on as they relate to the 20-something set (the article covers every age-range) including what they mean and how they can change.

As a preview it's:

  1. The anxiety of too much choice

  2. The anxiety of making the wrong choice

  3. The anxiety of not being chosen

  4. The anxiety of appearing overly enthusiastic

  5. The anxiety of appearing delusional

  6. The anxiety of appearing overly sincere

  7. The anxiety of appearing prudish

  8. Internet-enabled agoraphobia

  9. Separation anxiety

  10. The anxiety of being unable to love

Stay-tuned for Wednesday's first deep-dive, and in the meantime, read as many Sex Diaries as possible. It's one guarenteed way to feel really good or really bad about your dating life...