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March 21

Facebook face-offs

Filed under: media,Psychology — posted by Kristine @ 8:41 pm

Age: 9.

City: Detroit, MI

Activities: Standing in a department store trying on school uniforms. Being adjusted in said uniform by my mother. Witnessing my first public fight as another mother yells at her son.

Quotations: From yelling mother – “Pants don’t fit you. You’re too fat. You should stop eating. Why can’t you be more like the other kids? My life is hard enough without having to come home and deal with your sorry %*@!

Status: I watch furtively, and then hide behind my mother. A silent thank you to the powers that be. My mother says something to the woman about being in public and embarrassing her child. The woman scoffs.

In the New York TimesI Need to Vent. Hello, Facebook, Skyler Hurt, 22, friend and bridesmaid to a feuding couple, likewise, intervened:

“Hey, you guys know we can still see this right …?”

Apparently, couples DO know their fights are being observed, and like the mother yelling in the store, they don’t care. In fact, as the Times article notes, some of them welcome the chance to publicly air their grievances for friends and family to see.

Michael Vincent Miller, psychologist and author of the book “Intimate Terrorism: The Crisis of Love in an Age of Disillusion” notes:

Today, popular representations of marriage tend toward “two very self-protective egos at war with one another,”…“each wanting vindication and to be right by showing that the other is wrong.”

The thing is, isn’t marriage about two individuals coming together as a couple? By using Facebook and other social media to gain “support” for their respective “sides” in an argument or disagreement, it feels more like they are keeping separate counsel and setting up camps to do battle. Additionally, when you ask your friends and family to constantly choose sides and what they see most is your Facebook status rather than your faces at the dinner table, that support each person is looking for individually can quickly turn into disapproval for the couple as a whole. [Plus: “Tacky!” — BG]

Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia would agree.

“People tend to do better in their marriage when friends and family are supportive,” Mr. Wilcox said. “When that support dries up, that can be a really big problem.”

Additionally, in an era rife with passive aggressive forms of communication, from sites that allow you to anonymously tell your friends and family what you really think to others that allow you to virtually “slap” someone, one has to wonder exactly where we’re going. Are we really evolving as thinking and feeling human beings or is technology slowly unraveling us? Have we become a society where we are more comfortable interfacing virtually with our partners rather than speaking with them when they are sitting in front of us? Just as importantly, will couples venting their frustrations with each other in the new public spaces, as parents, do the same to their children? Will anyone say anything?

The accompanying photo was particularly powerful as one of the couples sits together on the couch, their faces aglow, not with love, but lit from the screens of their laptops. While the Victorian ideals of marriage are thankfully passé, the openness that modern couples should be striving for is openness with each other, not the World Wide Web.

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April 1

It’s not you, it’s your nightstand

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 4:13 pm

Speaking of deconstruction, here’s a piece from Sunday’s New York Times Book Review:

At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility. These days, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding. When it comes to online dating, even casual references can turn into deal breakers. “Sussing out a date’s taste in books is ‘actually a pretty good way — as a sort of first pass — of getting a sense of someone,” said Anna Fels, a Manhattan psychiatrist and the author of Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives. “It’s a bit of a Rorschach test.'”

<snip>

James Collins, whose new novel, Beginner’s Greek, is about a man who falls for a woman he sees reading The Magic Mountain on a plane, recalled that after college, he was “infatuated” with a woman who had a copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being on her bedside table. “I basically knew nothing about Kundera, but I remember thinking, ‘Uh-oh; trendy, bogus metaphysics, sex involving a bowler hat,’ and I never did think about the person the same way (and nothing ever happened),” he wrote in an e-mail message. “I know there were occasions when I just wrote people off completely because of what they were reading long before it ever got near the point of falling in or out of love: Baudrillard (way too pretentious), John Irving (way too middlebrow), Virginia Woolf (way too Virginia Woolf).” Come to think of it, Collins added, “I do know people who almost broke up” over The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: “‘Overrated!’ ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Overrated!’ ‘Brilliant!’”

For me, honestly, the literary dealbreaker I recall most clearly was the guy who had no books. What about you? Which suitors have you judged — fairly or not — by their covers? Post your mini-memoir here.

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February 21

“I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees.” “Me too!”

Filed under: Advice,News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:03 pm

That guy you’re chatting up online? He could be … that other guy. This just in from the Wall Street Journal:

“Among the 125 million people in the U.S. who visit online dating and social-networking sites are a growing number of dullards who steal personal profiles, life philosophies, evensignature poems. ‘Dude u like copied my whole myspace,’ posts one aggrieved victim. Copycats use the real-life wit of others to create cut-and-paste personas, hoping to land dates or just look clever. Hugh Gallagher, a 36-year-old writer in New York, is one of the copied. Match.com has more than 50 profiles with parts of Mr. Gallagher’s college entrance essay, which he penned nearly two decades ago and later appeared in Harper’s Magazine. ‘I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees’ and ‘I write award-winning operas’ are among Mr. Gallagher’s most popular lines.”

Read the whole piece for some entertaining anecdotes about people getting royally busted — dude, if you say you write award-winning operas, your date is going to ask about them! — or, on an upside, overhauling their profiles after seeing them cut and pasted onto someone else’s page (!) … and realizing they didn’t like what they’d said in the first place.

Yeah, it’s amusing, and there’s even a happy ending. And if it’s a phenomenon, it’s a phenomenon; report away. But still. BG remains weary of the seemingly endless out-churning of “Gotcha!” articles about online dating that, intentionally or not, perpetuate the misapprehension that the people you find on the Internet are probably lying, that they are NOT WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE. (Why, we revisited that chestnut just this week, in a letter from 1997.)

(more…)

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