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Room For Squares

Letís Get Digital, Digital

Few things in life have remained untouched by the internet. Sure, you could claim innocence if you still grind your own Quaker oats for breakfast, but by and large weíre all guilty of having fallen into the complacency of steady convenience. From necessities like groceries and clothes to less functional things like pork chops half eaten by Elvis, there isnít anything that hasnít yet been itemized, commoditized and ultimately digitized.

Presumably, the reasoning behind this online boom is to give everyday people more time out of their already packed schedules to spend on what they really wanted to do. Just think of all the free time weíve received as a gift from this modern advancement. Donít have time to do your shopping? Everythingís just a click away on Amazon. Need to fill a prescription? Just do it online. You can essentially finish all your errands without ever having to look up from your computer screen.

Itís scary how readily we transferred all aspects of our daily lives into gigabytes, megabytes and kilobytes. Logically then (and perhaps lazily) we even converted our social lives to html. Online sites like match.com and gay.com might each promise its users ease and sure results when it comes to dating, but I refuse to delegate my quest for Mr. Right to millions of invisible bits of information traveling at the speed of light.

While the chance to discern attractive candidates from discrete characteristics might sound like a sure way to weed out the crazies, it really is just putting too much faith in the honesty of others. Whoís to say the next Charles Manson isnít hiding behind the faÁade of Adorkable415? Admittedly, the risk of a total misfire like that is probably next to zilch because as soon as you meet the fella, well, the razor blades and leather restraints would be a dead giveaway (and who knows, that might have been what you were looking for all along anyways). But even all of this ridiculously assumes that desirability can be summed up by a few ticks and checks via a profile on gay.com.

Those profiles do appear to have everything worked out though. I mean, what more would you want to know about a man other than how many tattoos he has? And among other things that you canít discern from one of those self-taken and painstakingly rehearsed photos, you would definitely want to know how he describes his best attributes. Does he think itís his body or his face? Could it be his intelligence? How about his heart, personality, sense of humor, and checkbook? Lucky is the guy who finds someone with all those boxes checked.

As pedantic as this process may seem though, at some level the assumption is that we already do this when we meet people in public. Who hasnít told himself that heíll only date a heavily inked, non-smoking, seriously romantic Atheist who speaks Urdu and Russian but who uses drugs only when getting pierced and talking about some leftist agenda? Okay, we might not all be so particular but admittedly we do all keep some form of mental checklist in our heads. But what rhyme and reason went into picking those profile categories? Any high-level sweep of gay stereotypes can tell you that leather, tattoos and smoking will only appeal to one subset. I guess the real matter at hand is who gets to dictate whatís on that checklist and whatís not.

All perfunctory details regarding an online profile have to include some section on interests regarding favorite music, books, movies and television shows. And as we all know from myspace, populating these fields can be as time consuming as actually taking the time to enjoy them. Ostensibly though, when youíre through with the superficials, here is where the real game begins. Compatibility is often determined by record collections and bookshelf stackings. But how often is it that you get to rightly relegate someone based on their ipodís playlist. The possibility always exists for you to find someone who has a great list of desert island discs but only actually keeps that list updated for the benefit of strangers with whom he might unknowingly be sharetuning.

Letís face it. Despite the conveniences offered by technology, dating (and life for that matter) hasnít gotten any easier. If internet dating has done anything at all, itís added an additionally complicated layer to what had already been a daunting enough exercise. We now run the risk of relying so much on our social networking websites to develop relationships for us that when it comes time to actually meet someone face to face, we require upfront introductions less than we do a class on how to interact with someone sans the virtual buffer.

Meeting Mr. Right shouldnít require the yet-to-be wonders of the 21st century. We are after all human beings and not robots. In the arena of dating, people have survived without the aid of a broadband network for more than two millennia now. So leave the thinking and the data processing to your laptop. Attraction has always been physical, not digital.