This morning we got our 10,000th "smile" on Friendster.
We never know the people who send us these messages, but they always include some witty text, like "U r adorable" or "luv ur profile wanna chat?" Or, if we're lucky, "how hung r u?"
Now, we've already discussed how internet lingo like "LOL," "ROTFL," and "TTFN" is about as much of a turn on as Kathy Bates' hot tub scene in "About Schmidt." But what really bugs us about "smiles" is that they don't require any effort. In a bar, you have to work up the courage to talk to someone. You have to have several questions ready, and several witty responses. You may even have to buy the dude a drink.
But on the internet, you don't even have to have a cute opening line. It's further proof that online dating for gay men is just like eBay. You can search for what shape and size you like, you can look at a few pictures from different angles (often shirtless, so you know EXACTLY what you're getting), and you can even see an object's provenance. You can even get user ratings from the testimonial section! Then you bid on several, by sending a "smile," and sit back and wait to see which items you win.
Which sort of sucks, we think. For a while internet dating was one of the only safe ways to meet gays in places in the US where there aren't a lot of gay bars or organizations. But now it's just another way of shopping - and it's very skewed towards physical appearance. We'd never date the kind of person who's put up a shirtless main picture, so why are we more likely to click on such a profile?
Our other complaint about the eBay-ization about gay online dating is that the products that most frequently pop up turn out to be made in Malaysia. What is that?