A lovely article on Gaydar…

12/08/2003

There is a quite charming article on the Independent’s site today – Confessions of a Gaydar junkie – which is about one of the world’s most successful (and mostly unsung) pieces of social software: Gaydar. Like most truly dedicated social software enthusiasts, I have – of course – forced myself to investigate the service, although with a certain amount of disappointment and embarrassment I feel compelled to confess that I’ve never actually met anyone off it. I suppose that means that my dedication to the cause of computer-mediated social interaction has some limits. Either that or I’m too embarrassed.

Anyway, the article is particularly good value, which I suppose you might expect since Mark Simpson wrote it. Mark – you will recall – wrote the rather irritating/insightful book Anti-Gay. He writes of his experiences:

“Moralists who protest at gay e-promiscuity should be encouraging the Government to provide gays with grants for permanent broadband connections, since the internet not only keeps them off the streets and out of the parks, it turns all that messy sexual energy and appetite into … typing. Gays have become the unpaid secretaries of desire, filing and cataloguing human weakness. Promiscuity is now a form of bureaucracy. Tedious, eye-straining, number-crunching slave work. Don’t bother feeling jealous, all you sexually frustrated, non-online non-gays: internet cruising is its own form of punishment.”

Well obviously, I’m not really into a position to comment on all that stuff, being at least as inadequate at pulling on a site dedicated to the process as I appear to be in real-life (is it the beard, do you think?). But there are some other aspects to the piece which I think are interesting in terms of the relationship between the internet as a place for social interaction and as a means unto itself. I’ll give you an example to end with – which although perhaps presented in rather absolutist terms is certainly entertaining enough to be worth reporting as fact:

“You see, the real efficiency of online dating, just as with internet anything, is not the way it delivers you lots of pointless sex without leaving the house, but the way that it ensures that you will be spending more time on the internet.”