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Semiformalishmaybe

Honeybee Webs

One of my habits on OkCupid (which I'm not entirely looking forward to giving up if/when I stop being single at some point) is using it to try to understand regional and national cultures. It paints an interesting picture of different parts of our country (and other countries) to try to get a feel for how people's lives, concerns, and national cultures corrispond to their location. It's also a fun way to try to understand ethnicity; what's do belgian people look like, compared to scottish people? What kinds of TV shows are popular in Brasil? What are the subcultures of $place? All of this is of course filtered through self-selection, but it's still informative. Mixing a bit of spot research into what ethnicities tended to settle into various parts of the US, it's possible to try to get glimpses of how national cultures developed/faded here. It's weird seeing things I've come to see as being facial features mostly-specific to my family much more common in the profiles from certain parts of the world (found spitting images of my sisters and some of my cousins), as well as clumps of people that look a lot like other people I've known in areas specific to their ethnicity. It's also interesting to see some substantiation of reports from places that've had national/regional dialogues about health crises with obesity. OkC is a neat tool for getting honest surveys of large numbers of people from random places.

(before anyone asks, I think it's improper to use a dating site while one is romantically involved with someone, so if/while I'm involved with someone, I'd expect neither of us to use such sites)

Whenever I travel, I'm usually am thinking about different ethnic proportions and settlement patterns and cultural development; a different approach to the same thing. I'm expecting NYC to be really interesting in that regard; each time I've visited it has been. I've come to think of some parts of the US (and other nations) as lands-where-I-will-probably-see-unfortunate-eyebrows, lands-of-people-often-of-X-religion, lands-of-frequent-obesity, lands-of-people-with-frizzy-hair, or lands-of-people-with-certain-personality-types-being-more-common. Differences in match-percentages, or proportions of people in various subcultures, that's interesting stuff and usually makes me curious as to the whys.

Comments

I think it's improper to use a dating site while one is romantically involved with someone, so if/while I'm involved with someone, I'd expect neither of us to use such sites

But you use OKC as more than just a dating site, as evidenced by this very post!
That's true, but I think having effective fences between date-seeking behaviour and already-dating behaviour is important. It helps protect the relationship directly, it acts as yet another reminder that one is in a relationship (avoids messy situations), and it helps one's partner feel secure.

I know that it's pretty common for people to want to say "people should trust each other, and that's all the protection needed in a relationship, and it either works on that basis or it doesn't". That can probably work, but traditionally relationships actually have had a number of fences, a fair amount of extra societal support from outside (if your significant other is having what looks like a romantic meal with someone else in a restaurant, good friends will probably mention it to you), and people have guards against trusting either themselves or others entirely. I think we're better off with some of those guards if we really care about the relationship (and it's worth caring enough about relationships to actually put in that effort); enough so that I consider it naïve (or at least uncaring about one's relationship) to hold the view as described above.

(conversations on this have usually been pertty interesting in the past, provided they haven't been with someone I either was dating or was interested in dating)
For me, given that my OKC profile is accurate about my relationship status (seeing someone, only interested in friends/activity partners), I don't see it as any more "risky" than meeting likely-interesting strangers in any other setting. I don't think of attending Dorkbot as likely to bring my relationship tumbling down, even though it brings me in contact with people essentially pre-selected to be interesting to me.

I suspect where we differ is 1) I have a much stricter definition of date-seeking behavior, and 2) I am pretty secure -- arguably cavalier -- about my relationships. If a relationship does end, it will suck, but I am pretty confident I will find a new one. I don't really believe in The One. (Of course, I'm typing this from inside a relationship, and two years ago I would perhaps have answered differently.) Also, I am in the kind of high-contact relationship where genuine infidelity would be pretty damn obvious, so maybe those situations just don't feel like threats to me.

Most of the value of OKC to me these days is in answering questions about myself and seeing how I answered those questions a few years ago.