Saturday, April 18, 2009


Today's NY Times Technology section had an interesting piece on Craigslist, specifically about its "casual encounters" section. Because our class on Wednesday seemed to foray into the risque, I thought I would discuss.

Just to state up front, yours truly is not a sociopath or into risk-taking, for the most part, two of the character traits Tom Brady, chief medical officer at the CRC Health Group, an addiction treatment center, in Cupertino, CA says is among those of frequent Craigslist sex users. Maybe this is the reason I have never taken part in this behavior. But I would be lying if I said I did not have multiple friends who had.

The people I know who have used it, and those the article seems to identify as those who frequently use the feature, are pretty normal. None of them are sexual deviants (as far as I know) or into risky behavior...they just don't want the hassle of going out and having to buy drinks for people or "play the game." One friend of min who does not frequent the site himself has another friend who uses it exclusively for meeting people, even though he still goes out. He believes that it is somehow safer. I am still trying to figure that one out.

But as for the relevance of this topic to the subject of this blog, I am having a hard time deciding which side I think it falls on - engaged or (dis)engaged? I can see it both ways personally.

On the one hand, you have people being able to find sex on the web without having to talk to the other person beforehand. As efficient as it might be, this is not exactly "engaging" other, but more just cutting to the chase. I guess this is good if you know what you are looking for. But on the other hand, it seems like there is a value in forcing people to go out to a bar, or a club, or wherever. At least this keeps them in touch with the greater community, which as you all know I think is critically important. But hey, maybe they are not comfortable with this scene and prefer to stay stuck behind their computers.

There is also the side that these encounters can lead to long-term, regular relationships. One user in the article talks about how he met someone under the pretense of quick and easy sex, but ended up going on several dates with the woman without so much as a kiss. Of course there are the horror stories when someone uses a picture that is NOT their likeness, or one woman whose kids were home. But even one of the Real Housewives of New York City, Alex, met her husband this way. And if it is on that show, it must be normal (?).

I guess in the end I would have to vote engaged here. It seems that this is just a new tool that has streamlined the hook up process, helping people with an age-old need. Of course there is a dangerous side to this practice as we all witnessed in recent murders traced back to the site. But in the end, I am all for people getting some when they otherwise couldn't. After all, everyone needs their pipes cleaned from time to time.

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