Seriously, who gives out their number anymore?
I remember having a drunken bonding moment with a really cool guy in college a few years ago, and he asked for my number. I asked for his screen name instead. I mean, IM-ing someone is so much more casual, and so much less stressful. You don’t have to feel your heart thumping through your chest as the phone rings. Is he going to answer? Is it going to go to voicemail? Is he blocking me? What do I say if he picks up?
With IM, you can see if he’s away or idle, and choose your own adventure from there. You can leave a casual “Just wanted to say I had a great time last night” IM, rather than starting a phone call with the same line and then struggling to make small talk. Likewise, you can make small talk behind the shield of the IM window, where he can’t hear your voice crack, and where you can copy and paste the whole convo to all of your girlfriends and get advice while you try to weed out his intentions.
And then came Facebook. The social network has made quite the mark on the dating scene. There’s the poke, which can be viewed as casual, flirty, or creepy. There’s the “it’s complicated” label for the relationship you’re in (finally- you can be open about having a f*ck buddy without warding off the rest of the male population!); and of course, there’s the wall post, which makes the casual IM seem like the awkward phone call of yesteryear.
I mean, the Facebook Comment is meant to be a quick exchange, with no pressure to make conversation. When you make a phone call, you have to come up with a discussion and keep the ball rolling. When you IM, there’s still the slight chance that he comes un-idle and writes back. With the F/B comment, it’s open and shut. Even if he writes back immediately, you can pretend you didn’t read it, and wait until the drunken-hookup hormones die down before you decide whether you want to pursue a fling or keep it casual.
Even better, the post-date phone call screams “interested.” So there’s not really a way to let someone down gently. You meet, you have a date, you feel a connection. Then you wait three days. If he calls, he wants you; if he doesn’t, you’re done. But Facebook gives people a chance to be “friends” first (and I use the term loosely, since Facebook friends and true camaraderie are entirely different entities). But the “friending” option is beneficial in two crucial ways. One, you don’t owe a Facebook friend anything. You don’t owe him a date, just like he doesn’t owe you an explanation if his last fifteen comments are from blonde supermodels in training. Two, since you don’t owe him a date, you can safely flirt through F/B until you know it’s time to make a move.
Say you meet someone at a party, and your buzz makes you believe you could be compatible. He calls, and you’re pressured to make some sort of plans. Then you have to fake food poisoning and skip out on the check because the beer goggles have flown off with the force of a Kansas tornado. However, if you have access to his Facebook, you can check out his interests, his friends, and, most importantly, his photos. You can also poke and message for an undetermined amount of time, and bide your time until you’re ready to meet up again.
Yeah, Facebook and Myspace have their flaws, which you’ll discover when you’re denied a job because a recruiter saw your kegstand photos during a background check. But they’ve changed the face of relationships. And personally, I think the dating scene has gotten easier. Nobody ever got an STD from a cyber-poke.
[photo from jupiterimages]