Corra Daily Planet » 2006 » February

DATING YOUR SOUL CLONE: NICHE DATING SITES

Sun, February 26th, 2006 - 11:12 am - By Gordon Basichis

No Comments »


Having read more material on the niche dating sites, we thought out initial post was a little short and lacking, so we thought we would expand a little on our initial impressions. I guess one of the issues here with us, since we conduct background checks as well as our perspectives on dating, love and romance, we wonder if you fall in love with someone just like yourself, should you be running a background check? Enquiring minds want to know.

Anyway, here goes take two on our further impressions of niche dating–

Look on the Internet and you will find specialty online dating sites for every taste and every interest. You will find sites for pet lovers and, presumably, pet haters. There are sites for truckers and vegans, Goths, conservatives and brainiacs. Somewhere I’m sure there has to be a website for morons. There are websites for Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists. There are ethnic dating websites and online dating websites for punks, bodybuilders, and smokers. There are websites for fat people, deaf people and nerds. Presumably, if one explores the darker regions of the Internet, he can find romantic websites to fit every crackpot philosophy and deviant sexual proclivity.
In our world of branded imagery it is only natural that lifestyle, beliefs and predilections should also be branded to raise the odds you might actually find someone who thinks and behaves just like yourself. It is understandable in a world of desperate living that people would seek people who are just like themselves. Just look around. In a world of infinite possibilities the trend of the moment is to limit your senses so that we can better pair up and form partisans unions that can strand in stiff opposition to other partisan unions. And what better way to limit your senses than to seek someone who is a living Xerox of your most intimate thoughts and deeds?
Enter the niche dating site. Perhaps there is no better way to define the fears and apprehensions in our society than by citing the niche online dating site. It may even be better than the normal social, moralistic and political rhetoric spouted lockstep expounded upon by every socio-political faction. Not only do niche sites provide the incredible opportunity to reinforce your own lifestyle, they most increase the odds you will find your soul clone. That in turn greatly reduces the risk you will be forced to be open to new experiences. You can be assured you will never be forced to reexamine your thoughts and take stock of your lifestyle. You won’t have to stretch your mind or expand your horizons. You won’t need to change, tolerate nor accommodate.
You won’t have to take a risk. Because that’s what it is really all about anymore, isn’t it? We are so afraid of anything, we are afraid of taking a risk. We so want to be safe we are afraid of damn near everything. We pass laws every other day assuring our safety. Where we once were taught to expect the unexpected, we now are taught to fear the unexpected. We take Prozac and other mood elevators, because we are so afraid of ourselves.
Small wonder, with all that going on, that you would want someone new in your life who could really shake things up a bit. Someone providing a new perspective or engaging life from a different angle. Someone who could help give credence to that arcane concept that opposites really do attract. Just look at James Carville and Mary Matlin. Here they are at opposite ends of the political spectrum yet sharing love and having children. If nothing else, they are a shining example that love is worth the risk.
Let’s face it; dating your soul clone isn’t compatibility. It is a concession to the fact you have decided to limit yourself to what you believe is strictly your own kind. You have dismissed the possibility that love does come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes when we least expect it, love knocks us our ass. There in the end lies the beauty in life, the mystery and the poetry. Who will you love and what will they be about? You never know. Where will you find them? Probably not on a niche dating site, but at some chance meeting in a place you might have never been before, or had visited a thousand times, only this time and that percent made it an entirely different experience.
Having sex with your mirrored interest is a lot like masturbation. Only in the case of masturbation, you don’t have care how you look or how bad your breath is. With your soul clone you might want to make a better impression. So I guess there is at least some improvement. However, what happens in those post-coital interludes where you sit across from each other and utter the same jargon without the chance that one synapse will bring something original, something challenging to the occasion? Doesn’t it get a wee bit boring? Does it make you wonder if he or she is really the “one?” Do you start looking for someone else? Someone more compatible.
What did happen to those dangerous concepts like expansion and learning from our mates? What happened to learning from new experiences? Learning from the world? It wasn’t that long ago that a relationship fell apart because “the couple grew in different directions.” Though bittersweet, it was deemed a good thing. That term, “different directions,” roughly translated, meant “I got bored with the same-same and moved on, and he or she stayed in the same place. I wanted changes and they didn’t. I wanted them to try new things with me, and they wouldn’t. ”
So there you are. As they say, life happens when you are busy making plans. Or sitting around and reinforcing each others convictions. After awhile the lockstep compatibility may be a little too boring, a bit stifling, a living nightmare that you are trapped inside of “Groundhog Day,” only it is your life and not a movie. So all this niche compatibility business aside, you jump off the reservation and try something new. Usually with someone else who is also new. Someone different with other ideas. It meant risk. It meant you had to grow and try new things to save your soul and even your sanity. That was change, and along with that change there was exhilaration in facing the dreaded unknown. Life was a mystery once again, and in facing that mystery you were rejuvenated by the knowledge you would never be entirely safe again.
But things are different in this twenty-first century. We are now commoditized and categorized. We are a living checklist, judged by what we wear to how we think. We are segmented and broken down to our personal tastes. We are tediously predictable. We are in fact the perfect marketing target. There is no need to look for change. We find someone who shares our niche, so we both do the same stuff with the same mindset and probably—I’d give odds on this—with friends that think and feel exactly like we do. We are safe. Or at least we think we are. Because there is little chance your soul clone will cast an eye in new directions and escape into a different market segment. There is little chance that our soul clone or will seek new ideas and even people and willingly confront the dangers, mysteries and contradictions that come with that engagement. We’ll just sit, resolute, doing the same things over and over again. What a dull world this is becoming.

Kind of Like Dating Your Mirrored Image: Or Take A Risk With Love and Romance

Sun, February 19th, 2006 - 6:35 pm - By Gordon Basichis

No Comments »


For your type, keep typing
*Vegetarians, pet fanciers, truckers, Buddhists and goths — to name a few — are looking for love in all the specialized places, as niche dating websites multiply. We found thought this recent L.A. Times article
By Susan Carpenter, Times Staff Writer was worthy of addressing. The article is fairly long and well written; it is the subject we find so interesting. Below are excerpts from the article–

As novel as Datemypet may seem, the year-and-a-half-old site is part of a larger trend. As online dating has become more widespread, so have niche sites specializing by lifestyle and interest. Cruise the Web, and you’ll easily find dating sites for truckers (truckerpassions.com) and the tall (tallfriends.com), people with disabilities (friendslikeme.org) and goths (gothicloveonline.com), conservatives (conservativematch.com) and hip-hop fans (hiphopmatchmaker.com), Ivy Leaguers (rightstuffdating.com) and wine lovers (grapedates.com). You name it, chances are there’s at least one site for it. Usually, there are several…

Just like generalist dating sites, some are free and some are paid, though paying sites tend to charge lower prices than mainstream sites. Like Match.com and Yahoo! Personals, most use simple matching software, pairing couples based on what they’re about and what they’re looking for in a potential mate. The advantage of niche sites is that users get to identify their deal breaker…

“There’s still a leap of faith involved for a lot of people when they go into online dating,” said Nate Elliott, online dating analyst for JupiterResearch, a consumer technologies analysis firm in New York. “Although the stigma has mostly gone away, they’re still doing something that might feel a little bit uncomfortable, and to be able to take that step within a predefined community can improve the comfort level for certain users….

Ultimately, the success of any site depends on the number of people using it. The greater the number, the greater the odds of finding a good match….

“You have to be able to go on the site on a regular basis and see enough profiles that you’re not seeing the same people over and over again, which sounds easy and obvious, but it really depends on the depth of the search you’re doing,” said JupiterResearch’s Elliott. Veggiedate, for vegetarians, has about 16,000 profiles — about 1,000 of which are from the L.A. area. In comparison with gargantuan sites such as Match.com, those numbers may not add up to particularly good odds, but they worked for…

“Basically the people I met were good people, but we didn’t have enough in common, even the ones who might have stated on the sites that they were vegetarian,” he said. “The people on the site put it as something that they liked rather than more of a definition of their lifestyle….

Pet lovers, pet haters, vegetarians, golddiggers, trophy bride seekers, brainiacs and idiots all seem to have a special website where they can go and find like minded people. No matter what your taste, your interest or proclivity, there is a website that is just waiting to provide you with someone…well…just like you. Forget about doing anything like stretching, reaching, adjusting, or accomodating, because love and romance has superseded all the other stuff you are so find of calling your lifestyle. Don’t ever take a risk and date someone stranger than you, different than you, someone who can perhaps lift you out of your ordinary routine and show you new things. Someone who may even help you grow. I mean, after all, isn’t it much nicer, safe and less challenging to sit across the table and behold your mirrored interest in every interest and taste?

In a sense it’s a lot like masturbation. Only with masturbation you aren’t going out so you don’t have to look your best. So I guess there at least some decent merits to going out with your psychic clone, unless your psychic clone likes to do the same thing you used to do when you didn’t have a date–sit at home with DVD’s and a Pepperoni Pizza. But now, I guess, when you are sitting home and feeling lonely and miserable, you are on a date with someone of mutual interest. So your life is no longer a portrait of isolation, it is instead a measure of compatibility. Congratulations, you met the same hump as yourself, someone who is so mired in your own tastes and interests they can’t possibly show you anything new. Feel better?

What did happen to those dangerous concepts like expansion and learning from our mates? What happened to learning from our experiences? Learning from the world? How would James Carville ever have paired up with Mary Matlin? God bless them for showing opposites can still attract. For a long time one of the major reasons relationships fell apart was because “they grew in different ways.” That term, roughly translated, means “I got bored with the same-same and moved on and he or she stayed in the same place. I wanted changes and they didn’t. I wanted them to try new things with me, and they wouldn’t. ” Then that was a bad thing. Two people hiding out in quiet desperation, until one jumps off the reservation and tries something new. Usually with someone else who is also new. It meant risk. It meant you had to grow to save your relationship and even your sanity.

But now you are safe. There is no need to look for change. You both do the same stuff with the same mindset and probably–I’d give odds on this–with friends that think and feel exactly like you do. There is lesser danger that your mate will cast an eye in new directions and run off with the meat eating, high fashion, socially concerned pacifist with warlike tendencies. There is little chance that one soul clone or the other will dive into new ideas and activities with all the dangers, mysteries and contradictions. We’ll just sit, resolute, doing the same things over and over again. What a dull world this is becoming.

Tougher Times for Online Dating

Wed, February 15th, 2006 - 6:38 pm - By Gordon Basichis

1 Comment »


eMarketer, a marketing research group, just came out with a new report entittled ONLINE DATING GETS TOUGH We have excerpted some of the report that states–

Online dating was one of the few paid-content success stories of the dotcom boom. As recently as 2003, total revenue for companies in the online dating market was growing at more than 70% annually….

No more. Today online dating is a hectic market, competition is coming from all directions. As a result, online dating’s growth has slowed significantly….

‘The fact is that online dating is a mature market,” says Mr. Belcher. (eMarketer online senior analyst and author of the report) Sites now specialize in matching people of specific races, religions, interests and professions, and there are multiple sites competing in each of these niches. Some sites now facilitate webcam-based dates, video-blogging, and other technological marvels.’

In addition to competition within the category, a new potential competitive threat is arising: social networking sites. MySpace and Friendster offer online dating as one of the ways people may connect and communicate — and they’re free. Traffic on these sites has grown far more quickly in the past year than for online dating sites as a whole…

‘Free online dating sites, be they social networking or other, are not after the same customers as subscription-based online dating sites,” says Mr. Belcher. ‘Free sites are pursuing advertisers. Subscription-based online dating sites, on the other hand, are pursuing serious paying online daters.

The fact that serious online dating sites are not only surviving, but in some cases are charging higher fees, reveals that those who want such services will seek them out, and at a price.’

It appears that online dating is about to undergo some serious weeding. I suppose more and more interested parties are discovering that the sites and those who join them are not necessarily the stuff that dreams are made of. Perhaps higher hopes and expectations have led to disappointment and disillusionment, and like brick and mortar real life, the person at the other end of your email is less than what you had imagined. After all, without a face and body before us, many will tend to fashion or even manufacture their dream companion out of someone utterly of clay. Your Guinevere or Sir Lancelot in virtual reality may be the same jerk yakking on the phone at the coffee shop. The one who made eyes at you, before you snarled under your breath and turned away. She may be the woman who doesn’t shut up, even when she is eating.

The other thing so many experience to their dismay on the dating sites is that the promising one, the one you boiled it down to, is not only the big let down. It is the one possibility you found after arduous work sorting through the idiots and perverts who were making offers you wouldn’t dare entertain, even at closing time. So after eluding a few dozen exotic deviants who left messages in your mailbox, you are ultimately left to face an opening date with your garden variety jerkweed or his female replicant.

Perhaps charging more brings a better breed and a better selection to the online dating website. A website specializing in like minded brains or people with like minded interests may be well intended, but it is stil vulnerable to creeps and con-artists who warrant at least a background check before you even give them your name. At the risk of sounding elitist, money, or more specifically, higher rates, has a tendency to weed out at least the con artists and the low lifes. To be sure, there are plenty of rich jerks who can easily afford the cost of an upper scale online dating site, or a matchmaker with “A Class” clientle. As we know, some of the wealthy can be as deviant or as dangerous as your pathological gutter slug. But perhaps the old adage remains true–“You get what you pay for.” You want to get married, you pay the right price for the right testing for the right companion. You want to just fool around, well it will cost you less, and you will be meeting those who are…well…not interested in a lasting relationship.

In any event online social networking and online dating are here to stay. Some will falter, some will survive, and the best will prevail. As a society that increasingly turns inward to the point where we can’t say hello to each other on a busy street, these sites are instumental in providing hope at least and results at best. They are the automated love toys of an automated society.

Barbie and Ken, Together Again

Mon, February 13th, 2006 - 1:28 am - By Gordon Basichis

2 Comments »


We recently found this article, written by Michael Barbaro, in the New York Times A Makeover of a Romance. Here is an excerpt of the article.

It was the breakup that shocked legions of fans. She was the image of perfection dressed in Pepto-Bismol pink, with a dozen movie credits under her Size 2 belt, several best-selling advice books and a line of accessories that bore her name…

He was her dashing playmate in short shorts, with a washboard stomach, a killer smile and a pampered life of tennis, surfing and roller skating…

Now, after a heart-wrenching, two-year separation – for the record, it was her idea – Ken and Barbie are headed for a romantic reunion, according to their handlers. Ken’s new attraction? A makeover, set to be unveiled today at a news conference in Manhattan, that finds him sporting a more rugged jaw line, wearing cargo pants and listening to Norah Jones…

Like a desperate publicist trying to revive the moribund career of a Hollywood star, Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, is pulling out all the stops to put her back on her feet. For nearly 50 years, Barbie has been at the heart of Mattel’s success, but now the very qualities that long drew girls to her – a squeaky-clean image and virtually no electronic bells and whistles – are turning them off…

Barbie’s dream house is in disarray. Sales have plunged, retailers are cutting back on shelf space for her and, for the first time, a competitor has edged her out as the No. 1 fashion doll in the United States…

Bratz, a line of dolls with pouty lips and big heads, manufactured by MGA Entertainment, a privately held company in Van Nuys, Calif., said yesterday that it overtook Barbie in the fashion doll business in the 2005 holiday season – a remarkable coup for a brand introduced just five years ago. MGA cited data from the NPD Group, a market research firm…

Barbie’s midlife crisis holds wide-ranging implications, not just for Mattel, where the buxom doll accounts for 20 percent of sales, but for the entire toy industry. Barbie has long been the best-selling toy brand in the world and retailers ranging from Wal-Mart Stores to CVS devote millions of square feet of space to her wedding dresses, lunch boxes and convertibles…

It is good to see that Barbie and Ken are back together, at least for the moment. What with all the breakups raging in the tabloids, Jen and Brad, Jessica and Nick, it is encouraging that one of the more enduring icons of fashion and romance has reunited with her handsome beau. Here, after all, is is the doll that was arguably more popular tha one of our most popular Presidents. Ronald Reagan may have been instrumental in bringing down the Berlin wall, but it was Barbie the East Germans clamored after on their first visit to West Germany. That is drawing power.

But like most celebrities her famed waned and Barbie was nudged ever more closer to the kind of obscurity where you are condemned to modest digs in the Valley for twenty years or so before a nostalgia revival drags your aging visage back into the spotlight. Barbie was forced to reassess her values, and after an unremarkable affair with the Austalian surfer, Blaine, she realized regaining even a sliver of public approval meant at least a temporary reunion with Ken. She would not only have to reinvent herself; she would also need to reinvent Ken as well.

Ken, for his part, had responded to the breakup by traveling the globe in search of personal growth and enlightenment. Unlike many celebrities, he eschewed the tabloids in favor of solitude and self-discovery, ignoring claims that he and Barbie were sexually incompatible. Unlike other celebrities he refused hang out his laundry on any number of television talk shows that would have gladly had him as a guest. He didn’t talk trash about Barbie’s habits, and he didn’t pretend he was in love with someone else. He didn’t argue with talk show hosts and speculate on the proper treatement for his mounting depression and sense of inadequacy. After all, anyone with any sense knew that any couple deprived of the basic package of sexual organs can hardly claim they are doing much screwing.

We had a chance to glimpse Ken on TV in his latest incarnation. Ken has been reoutfitted, presumably to make him appear more contemporary. He is wearing designer Italian jeans and a leather jacket. Unfortunately for poor Ken he looks more like Donnie Osmond when he tried to look tough and contemporary, or like a denizen of the Castro District up in San Francisco. It is one thing to own the new fashion and another to wear it comfortably. Ken doesn’t look very comfortable.

But unlike the majority of us out there, Ken was cool enough to ride out Barbie’s romantic meanderings. Despite his purported stiffness and his outdated fashion, he stuck it out long enough to woo back his girl. And now here they are, together again, facing their waning popularity with savvy aplomb. Perhaps Ken knows he is paired with a perennial. And whether or not they can make it back into the big time they can dwell forever on their former glory in offbrand and overstock houses that permeate the geography of their loyal supporters. It’s only a glimmer of their former fame and glory, but it is a living. Can a duet in Branson be far away?

Next Page »