By Brian McKay

In the old days there was MySpace. Remember that social network site? It was really good to get a date or a hookup. It was overt in its approach but also non-substantive enough that it didn't last. Hey it was originally designed to promote bands. No wonder it failed in advancing its purpose.

Along came Facebook. Designed originally as TheFaceBook, it was the digital attempt to replicate the college “scam books”, that showed the picture and names of those on campus. You would simply circle the hot ones and formulate ways to meet. Now instead of scanning a book you could just browse and save that shit on your computer. It is no wonder it took off on college campuses and then spread to the general population. It turns out that starting with mating and moving mainstream is a great business model.

Facebook is now the domain of family pictures, declarations of religious devotion, cat pictures and your crazy uncle Ted’s constant political meme’s that utilize horrifically shitty logic. There is another layer hidden under the happy sayings, “check out that I went to the gym” and “I am now in a relationship” posts.

Lately, it seems I find myself exposed to that layer. While I am not totally sure as to how I have ended up here, there are apparently rules to Facebook flirting that eventually end in a potentially sultry Messenger exchange. These are the takeaways of recent experiences. Some deviate from others a bit but they generally follow a general theme.

It starts like all things, with a simple like. Now that there are reactions, you might even get a love sign. But hey, likes are common if your status is good. You are working it for those likes because your ego is somehow mysteriously tied to them. It's more though. You will start seeing likes from her or him on older posts. Maybe much older posts. It is the sign that this fellow Facebook soul has taken enough interest to dig through all your shitty updates and discretely show an interest.

Next the comments show up. Post something compassionate and she says, “You are so wonderful.” You then start retaliating with likes on her old stuff and the endearing comments as well. “Oh, that is such a wonderful saying.” or “Don’t be afraid to be yourself!”

The next step comes when you find yourself tailoring your posts to past items she has liked of yours. It soon seems she is doing the same for you. This might play out for a week or even a couple of weeks. Soon it pervades your psyche to the point of planning those damn posts a day in advance. If she recently used that heart like thing on your post about transcendental hairy koalas, you will certainly do a follow up on the plight of transcendental hairy koalas.  You are now trapped in the cycle of Facebook flirting.

The next level starts when she messages you. It starts with a statement like, “I really like what you said. You are very enlightened.” It becomes time to now play the sensitive guy that worked so well in college. Your response will be, “Yeah, I feel very strongly about that and want a just world where everyone is cared for.” It’s like the time you were at a party and said to a girl, “This music just speaks to me. I find there is a sense of love and passion in it. It must be time to go home and read some Bukowski poems.”

Next the questions come. Why are you single? They are interspersed with compliments like, “You seem amazing. I can’t believe you are single.” You send back a message that says, “That is an awesome compliment coming from an amazing woman.” All the while the pulse becomes heightened and the platitudes remain real as the possibilities of what could be from the heightening sexual tension of escalation and dreams of a person you probably have not yet met come to play.

The Internet has this amazing propensity to heighten dreams. We embrace that which we haven’t truly seen or felt and create lofty ideals of what could be. The slowly building Facebook flirtation not only accommodates this propensity but heightens it. It plays out slowly. There is constant build up with the ability to go back and view your suitor’s picture as needed. It makes you look at their likes and you see what is in common. Holy shit! She likes that band too! It must be a perfect match.

As the compliments escalate through Facebook Messenger, the day of reckoning comes calling. It might be time to meet. Can the face to face hold up to the buildup and self-created fantasies of amazing and unimpeded love? Probably not. Facebook just created something that might never be real.

Damn you Facebook. I have found myself falling into trap on several occasions, only to quickly pull myself from it. For some reason the job of writing and creating has all of sudden created a draw that wasn’t expected. Nothing will ever come of it, as I am closed off and rarely allow myself the opportunity to dream, but at times we all fall suspect to it. If anything it is the forum to craft illusions on social media that seems to disrupt and change natural mating rituals.

For some weird reason I tend to have multiples of these interactions happening daily all of a sudden. My propensity to give a shit is about zero as I am constantly working, but I can see how it all works and might give way to coupling. The question is, how much of it is real and what happens when the quiet build up of likes gives way to reality.

Most of it is distorted. Much of it is based in fantasy. Every bit of it speaks to our psychological needs. The underground of Facebook flirting might just represent the future of all relationships; a short term decent into what we dream of followed by the eventual ascent back to reality.

It might be time to go back to actual dating and just let Facebook be about cat pictures, meaningless success quotes and admonitions of the success one fakes as part of their multi-level marketing image. The underground of Facebook flirting will continue to exist just as certainly as dreams of perfect mates do. The problem will always be that it is easy to make a few pictures and some words into more perfection than they will ever deserve.

Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption and has some degrees and other stupid shit. He is also the head of the Boise, ID chapter of The Lonely Guys Club and charge as the Keeper of the Kate Beckinsale Videos. Brian is still working on setting the Guinness Book of World Records record for viewings of Underworld. He wrote this while drinking his dinner, as egg white whiskey sours are super healthy. We are certain that Brian will be single for life.


Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license