Alwayslooking is not Gender Neutral!


I like to observe. And I especially like to throw monkey wrenches into the ‘things’ I observe and participate in; playing devil’s advocate is another activity that’s top on my list. Why? Because it not only allows me to prove or disprove my own theories about society, it also allows me to formulate new ones and to get a better understanding of people. Let’s face it, in any given situation, at any given moment, anyone with a bit of wisdom knows that you can’t base your entire reality of things solely on what is being said; all other variables present have to be considered i.e. body and facial gestures, relationship with speaker, context of utterance, interpretative mechanisms and ambiguity, intersubjectivity, and the list goes on. That being said, if one is to navigate through the world with a better sense of what s/he is navigating through – one then has to try and understand people, and the best way I’ve learned to do this is not by listening to them, but by throwing monkey wrenches!

I suppose if I were to trace back the where and when I developed this attitude, that it comes from my dad, a successful DBA who devoted his life to studying people for business purposes...
I remember him telling me some years back: “If you want to know what kind of person you’re dealing with, give them a fork to mix their coffee; most folks get confused.” The comfortable and culturally rich childhood perks aside, the ‘gift’ I appreciate most from him is these little kernels of wisdom which he’d toss me at appropriate moments, giving me enough info to get the mental gears going whilst not providing too much so I’d be fooled into thinking I understood it all; a conclusion reached is much more powerful than an idea told!
The fork thing is just one such example. And how true it is! Yet when you think about it using a fork makes just as much sense and is in fact more efficient (the space between the teeth create whirlpools that help in stirring). Using a spoon is just some sort of empty convention we've developed based on historical origins. Yet these days, even within all the situations that don’t call for using a spoon to put sugar in one’s coffee and despite the widespread usage of pop-sickle sticks to mix coffee, give most folks a fork--especially the older generations--and you’ll get a confused look.

But why do this? Because these simple acts reveal a tremendous wealth of information about someone (and you can do this while you ‘listen’) and about people. Common reactions that stem from meaningless expectations say a lot about a culture or group, and if you’re really attentive to details, with time and performed on enough people, this is the kind of harmless experimentation that truly allows you to develop ‘grounded’ generalisations about certain behaviour types. And the reaction one has certainly says a lot about that individual, from someone who gets angry and refuses to stir his coffee to the one that says “cool,” and stirs his coffee without hesitation…
Further, these simple moments--whether disrupting the natural flow of things, countering expectations or playing devil’s advocate--force me and whomever else may be involved to get a better perspective on things, to think things out from many angles and hopefully break out of pre-conceived notions and opinions based on prejudices.

All this leads me to my latest ‘monkey wrench,’ one of the handles (ID) I use on the forums found on Craigslist: Alwayslooking99. For several reasons, the main one being tactical anonymity, I wanted users to think that I was a woman without making it obviously so since that would just be duping people i.e. rather than using a handle like hotbabe1 or similar (I'm against fraud, period). Call it intuition but--although by all logic it is a perfectly neutral handle--I had a feeling Alwayslooking would produce that effect. Why the 99? Simply because Alwayslooking and Alwayslooking1 were unavailable and I didn’t feel like working my way up the list. In retrospect I should have tried 69 but too late!

Whenever I can, rather than watch TV, I like to ‘hang around’ the jokes forum found on Craigslist; there are some pretty funny people on there and it’s a great ‘community.’
This blog is displayed in my handle profile and whenever I spend time on the forum, I have noticed that the number of hits instantly goes up. I review my site stats and sure enough, nearly all those hits have used the link found in my profile to lead them here.

As anywhere else, especially when anonymity is involved, there is some sexual banter between forum members. So my first thought was that my predictions had been right about the ‘sex’ users would assign to my handle since the people checking out my blog were guys (based on their handles or profile info) curious to learn more about “Alwayslooking.”
But then I got to thinking that since you can only include vids and pics from select sites and I prefer simply adding a link to an external site that already contains the material I wish to include, that perhaps the people checking out my profile and my blog may be doing so in order to see if I’m spamming. There appears to always be a moderator present but the members themselves do a pretty good job of monitoring posts and spam is usually briskly removed.
Or simply, were my jokes so good and my quips so clever that people wanted to know more about me?
Hmmmm... How to find out?
I created a new handle: pete2000! And guess what. Yes indeed, drastically fewer people were checking out my blog.
Oh we men! Sometimes we are so pathetically predictable!

All bets open as to whether or not the same men will read this post!


Keep on clicking!

PDL

© 2009, Pascal-Denis Lussier

Photo credits: "Looming" by Pascal-Denis Lussier
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