Friday, January 14, 2011 making flirting easier since 2010

Brett McCracken shares some of his thoughts on, a new social flirting site:
"Though it remains to be seen whether likealittle will be more than a flavor-of-the-week fad, its popularity certainly underscores some of the broader social trends happening among “Generation Y” (or whatever the generation in college is called). Namely: The increasing preference to mediate relationships (even the very initial stage of relationships, such as flirting) via technology and avoid the difficulties and awkwardness of face-to-face communication wherever possible.

Naturally, if there is technology that makes the awkward things in life less awkward, we seize upon it. Who wants to nervously stumble over their words when making small talk with a girl they like when a cleverly crafted likealittle message will do? It’s the same reason why Gen Y communicates almost exclusively by texting on their phones rather than talking. Texting is more controlled. More efficient. Easier. It’s the same reason why updating scores of friends and family about your life in on fell swoop on Facebook is preferable to the laborious process of calling each of them or writing an email or letter to them.

Technology’s dominant raison d’etre has always been about efficiency. Making something easier, quicker, less painful. Think medicine, automobiles, assembly line, central heating. Communication technologies are similarly in the business of making the difficulties of communication easier. But there are always unintended consequences. Likealittle makes flirting easier, but it also makes it anonymous, objectifying and addictive (“dangerously” so). And, as with its various forbears, likealittle thrives because it creates a safe, low-pressure, “just me and my computer/phone” environment where it’s easy to say whatever we want. It removes those pesky filters (in person tact, nervous self-restraint) that sometimes keep us from saying the things that pop into our heads. As with texting and other “nonverbal signals be damned!” modes of fast-paced, send-before-you-think-too-much-about-it communication, likealittle feeds the culture’s ever worsening addictions to communication as diversion/commodity and narcissistic self validation."
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