It's nice to know I'm not the only one who is regularly disturbed by the New York Times' Modern Love
essays. This week, Theodora Stites takes us into the bone-chilling
world of the online social networking scene. Way to pick up
on the trend stories. People keep in touch via the Web?!!
Stites spends most of her word count here bragging about the many
online communities to which she belongs--it's an exhausting
laundry-list, and I'm wondering whether she's at
all embarrassed by the amount of thought she puts into not only
maintaining her personal pages, but her shameless
admission that she'd rather experience a well-connected
fake life on a machine than in reality. Worse yet, she
says most of her (my) entire generation operates this way.
Huh? Yeah, I like my extended network as much as the next person. This, though, is unnerving: "I live for Friendster views, profile comments and the Dodgeball messages that clog my cellphone every night. I
prefer, in short, a world cloaked in virtual intimacy. It may be
electronic, but it is intimacy nevertheless." What the fug? She
probably reads Chuck Klosterman books on her BlackBerry so that she can
scroll down instead of turn the page.
It's astonishing that despite the immense amount of
self-justification, Stites refrains from divulging exactly how many
friends she has. How coy. So how come I can't find her
anywhere on MySpace or Friendster? Don't hide, Theodora. I need to
know who else you roll with, besides the dude that runs Flavorpill and Dennis Crowley--both
of whom you gratuitously name-drop, just to make sure we know that
you're for real. And that you do hang out with hip, important people on
weekends. You're not home alone, playing D&D in meta-looking Yahoo
Modern Love will at least devote a couple of sentences on the
author's exploding, dead, or dying relationship with someone.
There's an epiphany. A moment where some deeper understanding has been
reached for author and reader. They're always well-written,
though lacking in subtlety. What does Sites tell us? That she is
hopelessly, completely, head-over-heels in love with the
I'm terrified. But I can't look away. This is even scarier than the stuff they run in Weddings & Celebrations.
Elsewhere: The Black Table: A Modern Love Story