Single White Female sick of the Seattle scene flirts with

Single White Female sick of the Seattle scene flirts with (Boo Davis – Seattle Times)

This is an anecdotal article reflecting on personal experiences with Friendster.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 03:09 P.M.

Single White Female sick of the Seattle scene flirts with

By Boo Davis
Seattle Times staff artist

At times I feel Seattle is a social Bermuda Triangle, and I’m hopelessly lost at sea. How am I supposed to meet people when it seems everyone in this town is either a deranged shut-in, or impenetrably entrenched in an existing tightknit group of friends? If you are single like me, multiply Seattle social frustration by about 1,000.

When my friend Jeff sent me an invitation to, it was like: At last! My opportunity to infiltrate the Seattle cool-kid network!

In case you haven’t heard, is a network of networks. It operates on a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” principle, connecting people through friends for dating and meeting new people. As new friends are added, they can add more friends. In a short time, a personal Friendster network can encompass a mind-boggling array of personalities and geographies. Since its launch in March, Friendster’s online community has exploded to more than one million users. The site is free to its members, unlike most online dating sites, and is proving wildly popular because of its casual – well, friendly – feel. The phrase “you should meet my friend” takes on a whole new and instantaneous meaning.

My first step to social salvation was creating a Friendster personal profile. A Friendster profile is much like a standard online personal ad. It consists of an uploaded photo and a short form that describes your interests, relationship status, and who you are hoping to meet. Included in your profile is a “friends list” that features thumbnail photos linking to your friends’ personal profiles. Also, there’s a “testimonials” section where your buddies handle your PR for you with their (hopefully glowing) personal comments.

My next step was amassing friends. At first my friends list looked pathetic: just a single thumbnail image of Jeff, my Friendster sponsor. Through one person, I was linked to a network of 196 people. Not bad. I quickly set out to spam my closest pals with invitations to join me on Friendster. I was ill prepared for the dirty, pyramid-marketing-scheme feeling, but I soldiered on like a pimp amassing an army of hos.

Once my friends list began to develop into a gallery of smiling, familiar photos, I began to explore the profiles in my “personal network” – those linked by a maximum of three degrees of separation from the people on my friends list. I didn’t waste any time, and set the search parameters to seek out only single, thirtysomething straight men within 25 miles of Seattle.

The Billy experience

I quickly stumbled upon a hottie by the name of Billy, a 33-year-old Web engineer in search of people for dating or “activity partners.” I immediately used the message function to send Billy a note: “Best death metal collection in all of Seattle? You are utterly charming.” I was delighted to receive a reply within 24 hours.

After a week of vigorous back-and-forth messaging that nearly broke the Friendster server, Billy and I made arrangements to meet in person. To my delight, even outside the Matrix, he was the nonsmoking, hilarious Friendster of my dreams. We spent the night laughing and playing old Soundgarden on the jukebox at the 5 Point. The next day we added each other as “friends.”

And then … nothing.

The Billy story ends with me seeing him at Linda’s, and him pretending not to see me. I later wrote him a Friendster testimonial that read, “Scenester man-whore par excellence. When Billy finally decides to settle down, I want to be first in line.”

Putting the Billy experience aside, I became determined to harness the power of Friendster to find more friends who could change my negative attitude toward Seattle. I rewrote the “who I’m looking for” section of my profile into a plea for activity partners with an interest in veggie hot dogs at Shorty’s and going to metal shows.

I then set about using Friendster to reconnect with old college pals in the Chicago area. Friendster’s bulletin-board feature allows users to write anecdotes and updates that only those on their friends list see, which makes for fun and easy friendship maintenance. All my long-distance friends were soon tuned into the great band I saw play on Friday night and were treated to hyperlinks of my latest “cats wearing funny hats” finds.

Soon my friends list grew to 31 people, my personal network skyrocketed to 145,000, and my Friendster inbox was deluged with messages from potential activity partners. A local photographer contacted me, inviting me to a clothing-optional photo shoot. A cross-dressing glam rocker thought I might enjoy “hippy bashing” with him – seeing as I listed that as one of my interests. A lovely British chap, marooned in Seattle because of a computer job, requested I take him on a tour of my favorite vegetarian restaurants. My social calendar quickly filled with coffee dates and dinner get-togethers.

As a veteran Friendster, I have developed methods for evaluating other people’s profiles. The friend-to-testimonial ratio is a good indicator of “Friendster inflation,” where one is simply collecting acquaintances for the sake of some cyber popularity contest – very unappealing. A guy with a suspiciously long list of testimonials from women recommending him for dating – well, those women are just trying to assuage their own guilt over not wanting to date the yutz themselves. But still, my friends are my best bet for screening out the losers. In reviewing my friend Jeff’s friends list, I noticed a potential cutie named Jimmy. I sent Jeff a “request a match” message. Jeff was quick to discourage the match; apparently Jimmy likes only women who look like 12-year-old skinny boys.

As a flaming Friendster addict, I feel uneasy contemplating the future of the site. Lately it’s been difficult to log on because of heavy site traffic. And just like got us hooked on free delivery of movies and Preparation H – then instituted a fee – our free messaging days are numbered.

Friendster is headquartered in Silicon Valley and was founded by entrepreneur Jonathan Abrams. Abrams says his plans are to “get the site fast enough to support the tremendous growing demand for our service, move out of beta, get even bigger and add new features.” Thankfully, it will always be free to join Friendster, post your profile and photo, browse the site, and communicate with your friends. However, once Friendster moves out of beta, contacting people you don’t know will require a subscription – which will cost less than one third of what the big dating sites charge.

If not love, a cat-sitter

One day recently, at a time I wasn’t feeling too particularly beaten down by life, I summoned the courage to message a cute 32-year-old architect named Johnny. He wrote back within a day. I fired back a thoughtfully crafted message. Days passed without a reply. I decided to look at his profile for evidence of his last “login date.” To my horror, “Johnny” had changed his relationship status from “single” to “open marriage,” and who he was looking for from “people for dating” to “friends.” Burn! Dating sucks no matter what the venue.

In complaining about this egregious cyber-humiliation to my friend Jeff, he was quick to soothe my nerves: “Step away from the Friendster thing for a minute. I think you are putting far too much stock in it. It’s a tool for wanna-be scenesters to promote themselves, and not much more.”

Maybe so, but I remain optimistic about Friendster as a social tool. Suddenly, the Seattle social scene doesn’t seem so impossible to navigate. I’ve met some genuinely great people through the site. Like Matt, the hilarious comic-book aficionado who enjoys apocalyptic Christian entertainment. And Patrick, the marine biology grad student who has offered to cat-sit for me.

And then there’s the story of my philosophizing pal Jonathan, whom I got to know because of all the friends we share on Friendster. We fast became e-mail and Thai food buddies, always talking, talking, talking. Suddenly, things became oddly quiet on his side of the world. I was starting to feel neglected. My suspicions were proven correct: Jonathan had met a nice girl through Friendster.

Friendster giveth, and Friendster taketh away.

Boo Davis:

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2 thoughts on “Single White Female sick of the Seattle scene flirts with

  1. David

    Yeah, I was told to try Friendster to meet new people in Seattle and so far have met 3 girls that never talked to me much again. Hahhahaha!

    I suppose it takes one friend to make it all worth it though.

  2. lurve

    i am looking 4 a white girl who wants to get flirty wid me cos ia m sooooooooooooooooooooo buff

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