www.whyville.net Apr 20, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Why Date?

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It seems that lately Whyvillians have been attacked left, right and center with an "Anti Why-dating Campaign." Read about why you shouldn't date in the Times. Read about the clubs you can join - after all, it's more fun to pick on people if there's a mob mentality that absolves us of guilt. Plaster a few anti-dating face parts on when you pick your nose and you are sure to be the epitome of Whyville fashion. Yes folks, it's in to "hate" why-daters, so jump on board the band wagon and you're in for quite the ride. But wait - if everyone thinks why-dating is so stupid, why are people still doing it?

Yes my friends, it would appear that the powers that be in Whyville, or at least those Whyvillians who like to throw their weight around, are anti online dating, so they feel everyone in Whyville should be. I will not deny that some quieter Whyvillians are legitimately opposed to why-dating. I will not deny that citizens of Whyville are entitled to their opinion, whether or not I agree with that opinion. I will also not fool you into thinking that I have ever why-dated. But the fact of the matter is that why-dating has been around for almost as long as Whyville itself, and it is likely that it will continue even when this trend of opposing why-dating has passed and resurges once more. And you know what? I have to say that I think the campaigns are ridiculous, and I have to say that understand the appeal of why-dating.

First of all, is it really your place to tell people what they can and can not do? Do you meet two people holding hands on the sidewalk and say, "Excuse me sir, miss, but I really don't think you two should be dating"? It's entirely possible that you do. If you do, let me start by telling that you look like a complete fool. And let me conclude by saying that, your opinion probably doesn't matter two random strangers, anyways. I dare say that the same applies to many Whyvillians: they simply don't care what a bunch of online strangers think of their actions. Or maybe you don't think gay people should have relationships, because there are such people, but there are still same sex relationships which are perfectly legal. And maybe it's hard to have a same sex relationship because you are judged so frequently, I will not pretend to know, but there must be some benefit that outweighs these difficulties!

Additionally, there are Whyvillians who claim to "hate" why-daters. Is this really true? Personally, I am annoyed by the way the word 'hate' is casually tossed around these days, not just in this situation, but in life in general. Do you know what hate is? According to the dictionary, hate is defined as "to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest." Do you really have so much free time and energy that you can INTENSELY and PASSIONATELY dislike someone? Sure, I can get annoyed by people I don't like, I can even lay claim to be irritated by some people who have been too persistent in asking me if I want to date. And maybe I an exceptionally apathetic person. And maybe I'm too much of a pacifist. But I can't be bothered to feel such a strong emotion towards people that I know nothing about, besides the fact that they are looking to "why-date".

But Whyville kids are so young! There's 8 year-olds on Whyville! Kids that young can't have REAL relationships! Kids that young don't even know what real dating is! Sound like a familiar argument against why-dating? It is. But if I think back hard enough, to when I was 8 years-old (long ago though that was), and perhaps even before that, me and my friends "dated" the boys in our class. Sure, the things we did were laughable. Sure, the boys in our class were at that age when they were repulsed by girls, but there was still something novel about being able to say, "I've got a boyfriend." And isn't that the way kids learn - by imitating the actions of adults? Girls who play dress up in their mother's clothes look ridiculous. We don't discourage it. Ever played a game of house? Or school? Or chef? When I was just a wee lass, my favorite game was to "grocery shop". I lined bookshelves with fake food and then I made a list, and checked things off of it while my doll sat in the cart which I carefully placed food. I wasn't buying real food. I wasn't even paying for this food! But I learned how to grocery shop, and no one discouraged me from doing it. Besides, if you claim that eight year-olds are too young to date, then you are responsible for providing an age at which adolescents are suddenly mature enough to date. Doesn't it seem arbitrary to choose an age? Shall we say 9? 10? 11? 12? 13? 14? How old is a person when they are old enough to date - and be careful, because if you say it depends, then you are admitting that it is not your place to decide.

You don't even know who you're talking to! You could be talking to a 50 year-old man in Tibet! It is true that you could be talking to a 50 year-old man. It's equally possible that you're talking to a 13 year-old girl. But isn't this true of anyone you befriend on Whyville? I can tell you that I'm a girl. I live in Canada. I'm a little bit older than most Whyvillians. No one can really verify that fact. Does that mean I should stop trying to make friends on Whyville? Maybe I am friends with an old man, but I like the person he'd pretending to be. The fact of the matter is that yes, there are some creepy adults who hang out in kids' chatrooms. Yes, some of these adults are dangerous. That doesn't mean we should suspect every why-dater on Whyville of being a creepy old man! If that were the case, well then, why bother log in at all?

But online relationships aren't REAL relationships! When I said that no one could verify the fact that I was a girl who lived in Canada, this was partially untrue. You see, I've been on Whyville for 8 years, and in that time I've met one person who I would consider best friend. Me and her, we talk about EVERYTHING. I talk about stuff with her that I wouldn't even consider talking about with my real life friends. We talk about going to the bathroom. That's how much we trust each other. If I had to name the person who knew the most about me, besides myself of course, I would name her in a heart beat. Being online allows you to open up in a way that you might not be confident enough to do in person. Being online friends allows you to think about what you say before you say it - you don't say the stupidest, most emotionally charged thing you can think of you are angry. Are these bad things? No. Does it mean that you can't have a meaningful relationship over the internet. And yes, we did recently meet for the first time in public. She didn't turn out to be a creepy old man.

Perhaps what those who oppose why-dating mean when they say that virtual relationships are not real relationships is that there is no hugging, there is no kissing. There isn't even a guarantee that your online boyfriend isn't cheating on you in real life. But do you think Whyvillians who why-date are looking to get married? Maybe they're just figuring out the novel world of dating, and they need a little confidence booster. Besides, are kissing and touching the defining elements of a relationship? Friendship or otherwise, I can imagine the types of relationships defined by physical proximity. I will concede that perhaps why-dating is not a model of faithfulness, and in the end they become relationships of friendship and not of romance, but if why-daters make a friend or two, can we really fault them for that?


Author's Note: I am NOT, under ANY circumstances advocating that meet an online friend in person. However, if you decide you are going to, make sure you check with your parents, tell them where you'll be or have them come along, and always meet in a public space that you are familiar with. Remember to BE SAFE!


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