At Campus Center: Female, Redhead. You in the green sweater. You have the prettiest eyes and I love to get to know you more. Coffee sometime? In Nobel: Male, Brunette. I always see you after lab doing your chemistry homework—wouldn’t you rather do me instead? At the Dive: Female Blonde. Girl, you know how to work it on the dance floor, what can you do in the bedroom? At everywhere: Male, Black hair. So I know you have a girlfriend, but way back when, I thought we had a connection. It’s a shame you never realized it.
As most Gusties will notice, the previous comments are posts I’ve paraphrased from a little website aptly called LikeaLittle.com. For those of you readers who have been abroad last semester, no longer attend college or have somehow managed to abstain from Internet usage for the past three months, Like a Little is a new social network that has caught Gustavus and most other campuses by storm.
The site describes itself as a flirting-facilitator platform allowing students of a specific college to leave anonymous compliments, yearnings or downright risqué messages on a public page akin to Twitter or Fmylife. All a user has to do is type the location where he or she spotted the sexy somebody, specify gender and hair color of said person and write them a cute and/or suggestive note. Viewers can then add comments to each post after being randomly assigned a produce-themed username such as “Pumpkin” “Boysenberry” or “Eggplant.”
According to Internet sources, Stanford—graduate Eric Reas and friends launched the social network in late October 2010 in the name of “high quality flirting.” Since then, spawns of the site have popped up across schools in nearly all 50 states (including Canada).
When Like a Little arrived at Gustavus early last November, it set off an overnight viral firestorm that had students tittering both on and offline. I remember distinctly how I discovered the online flirting Mecca: via the other omnipresent social network, Facebook. Many of my friends were gawking at the simple, yet brilliant, idea of confessing crushes for everyone on campus to see. Now that anyone has the opportunity of being “liked a little” the site’s addicting catch is finding salacious tidbits that refer to someone you know or, more importantly, you yourself.
I immediately wondered how the invention of this hilarious, romantically beneficial medium had been postponed for so long. For shy individuals such as myself, building up the strength to ask someone out can take weeks, sometimes months. Thus, Like a Little is a godsend for introverts, because it removes the awkwardness of divulging one’s infatuation. Instead, the “ums” and “uhs” and the “I think I kinda sorta like yous” the flirting platform lets you write a quick, witty, right-to-the-point love note. Whether or not the beloved actually sees the message, it is nonetheless entertaining to read. Finally, I thought, a worthy competitor for procrastination, against the time-sucking Facebook.
Yet a large number of people I talked to were not equally impressed. Given the innuendo and straight-up sexual propositions occurring on Like a Little, my friends quickly labeled the network creepy, voyeuristic and objectifying. It is an unnerving feeling to walk through the Campus Center knowing that someone could be writing a note to you at any moment. Also, many posts are fairly explicit in nature and could easily be unwanted to the intended receiver.
Reading the dirtier remarks on the site reminds me of middle school where everyone was too horny for their own good. Indeed, my friends often complain about the pervasive lack of maturity and decency that Like a Little appears to glorify.
My own criticism of the social network delves deeper than posters’ racy language. The fact is, despite what your Sunday school teacher told you, sexual attraction is ubiquitous and completely normal. Therefore, instead of faulting the site’s suggestive content, I question the mentality that Like a Little creates. It rests on the presumption that the object of affection will view and respond to the message and the two of you will live happily ever after. Unfortunately, life isn’t always so cut-‘n-dry, and romantic infatuations are not always mutual. Like a Little, I think, breeds a kind of false hope by over-simplifying the mechanics of love and relationships.
With that in mind, I wonder if the flirting facilitator’s days are numbered. At Gustavus, the rate of posts has already dwindled from dozens per hour to around two or three per day. Maybe the Like a Little phenomenon is only a fleeting fad. Yet in the mean time, I think it’s still worth an innocent (or not so innocent) chuckle.