Saturday, May 6th, 2006

blogs and man-whores

Filed under: random — alison @ 09:20

Mark attends a monthly social gathering of Montreal bloggers. (For those new to the Internet, a blog is a sort of public diary. You have a website and every so often you write something new, a “post,” and other people can read your new post and all your previous posts and they can also publish comments of their own in the “comment” section.)

Last week I went with him for the first time. I generated much suspicion when I admitted I didn’t have a blog of my own, rather like a banker at a Communist Party meeting, but people kindly agreed to talk to me anyway. I think it’s something to do with people not being able to know who you are if you haven’t laid it out for them in diary form. They need to be able to know your politics and private obsessions to be able to start a conversation with you. Rather like the usual social awkwardness of not knowing the gender of a person you are communicating with, or the need in some places to know someone’s social position. Among geeks and nerds, you need to read someone’s blog before being able to take things any further.

This idea that you need to know someone before communicating with them – rather than using conversation or shared activities as fun and useful ways of getting to know them – was borne out by a conversation I had with a young man who was a great fan of the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory. (For those new to the Internet, this is a psychological test that assigns you ratings along four scales, including introverted/extroverted and intuitive/analytical.) He claimed it was the greatest advance in psychology ever, because if you knew your and other people’s profiles you would know what you and other people were like and what they were good at. I suggested that this could also be accomplished by doing things oneself and by paying attention to other people. He was stymied for a minute and then admitted, “Well, that way wasn’t accessible to me.” Meaning that he was so socially isolated he didn’t know other people well enough to understand what they cared about, and the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory was able to explain to him in a logical way that people were different. So now we have two ways to know people before communicating with them that are deemed extremely useful: the blog and the Meyers-Briggs profile. Without which a certain group of people find social interaction almost unbearable.

Anyway, I met some very nice people there. Mostly men, mostly expatriates, mostly thoughtful. I was having a very interesting conversation with an architect from Chicago (about architecture and about the crossovers between the french and english communities in the Montreal area and how they have changed over time) when a group of young people insisted we join them. Excellent, I thought. I will expand my horizons and converse with Young People. It turned out that they were drunk, but that’s not always a bad thing.

Well, we talked about Meyers-Briggs for a long time, and about whether one posted naked pictures of oneself on one’s blog, and whether gay marriage was going to save the institution of marriage itself. (I didn’t follow that last one except to make a mental note that this topic was *so* Dan Savage ca 2002. Young people are clearly not as hip as they seem.) Two of the young people I initially took to be a gay man and his fag-hag, but it turned out they were a straight couple except that she was bi. One of those annoying kinds of bis who think that being into women means that you have a threesome with your boyfriend. Whatever. Young people these days… just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong I reminded myself. Keep an open mind.

And then the conversation turned to their friend Kevin, who was a man-whore. This expression puzzled me. Kevin is by default a man, so that doesn’t need to be specified. And a whore’s customers are almost always men, so that doesn’t need to be specified either. So I asked. “What’s a man-whore?” They had a lot of trouble explaining since they didn’t understand my puzzlement. It turns out that a man-whore is a man who has sex (for free) with lots of women. A slut, I would call him. Or a cruiser. Or a player. Or a seducer. “Man-whore” seems to me to be both ambiguous and inaccurate and thus not a useful term. I couldn’t get this point across. Neither could they get across the point that the meaning of “man-whore” was self-evident.

It was at this point that I gave up on the young people and turned back to the grown-ups, who by this time were discussing computer hardware and peripherals. Not much better. We left soon afterwards.

But now I’m thinking, maybe I *should* have a blog. That way my friends and family can post their comments for my family and friends to read, and the social meaning of the word “man-whore’ could be elucidated. (And everyone could say what breed of dog they are and could see that everyone was a Siberian Husky except for one person’s roommate who was a golden retriever.)

For now, however, I’m going to go do some taxes.

Happy spring!

[originally transmitted by e-mail May 5, 2006]

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