Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dirty Deeds Done Digitally

My grandma told me it’s better to be the dump-er than the dumpee.  She was a pretty smart old broad.  She lived her life.  And while she didn’t spell out the details of her quest for love between marriages to my grandpa (that’s right; she married him twice), she did make me the gift of excellent advice when I was evaluating suitors in the meat markets of my youth. 

These days, in absence of wisdom handed from generation to generation, we have new websites and applications offering dumpees a chance to get constructive feedback from the dumpers who, well, dumped them.  Nice.  I just can’t help thinking of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap.” 

But maybe it’s not a bad idea.  After all, 20% of new relationships now begin online.  Why not end ‘em there?  Or at least do a virtual mop up of the digital mess. 

I’m old school enough to say some things simply must be done in person.  But what if you’re the dumpee and the dumper doesn’t want to talk to you?  Or if you’re the dumper and the dumpee doesn’t want to listen?  Stepping in to fill the void of courage and good breeding is a new website: “WotWentWrong.”  

The idea with WotWentWrong is that after a first date has failed to produce a follow-up phone call, or budding love shriveled without explanation, dumpees can fill out an online questionnaire detailing what they feel they must know from the dumper – such as ‘Was it my teeth?  My nervous giggle and tic?  Did I talk too much about my gerbil?’  They submit their questions to the website which acts as an intermediary between the star-crossed ex-would-be-lovers.  The dumper responds through the site, avoiding direct contact with the person he or she unceremoniously unloaded.   

WWW even offers a schematic for the process:  Step one comprises a healthy-sounding ‘Proactively Seek Feedback’ (ask where things went wrong); and step two, ‘Be Honest but Respectful’ (give constructive feedback); and concludes with a smiling graphic step three, ‘Look to the Future,’ (develop insights and behaviors to ensure your relationship goals).  Ah!  Sweet Mystery of Life, resolved at last with three clicks of a mouse and a la di dah. 

Other sites related to state-of-the-psyche matchmaking and breaking offer the jilted not peace of mind, but revenge.  Consider CheaterVille, for example, where you can “Fight infidelity!  Post a known cheater now!”  Mug shots and unseemly tales of he-done-me-wrong provide enough degrading dirt to eliminate the need to watch “Maury” for the remainder of the decade.  

Or what about NeverLikedItAnyway, where dumpees can sell off gifts from their exes including engagement rings and wedding gowns.  Here the seller takes glee in downgrading the accoutrement of a withering romance, if not the dumper directly. 

I can’t help thinking of all the ways things could go wrong on such a site, especially with the help of a mischievous nerd with a penchant for misdirection.  Remember the cleric in “Romeo and Juliet” who never delivered the message that would have saved the day?  No?  Well he really messed things up.   

The modern day equivalent, say a hybrid of Allstate’s anarchist, “Mayhem,” and an “Anonymous” hacker, could wreak virtual chaos.  Your cheater might wind up with my cut-rate diamond ring; and we’ve facilitated a perpetrator in committing another crime of the heart!  Oh dash it all! 

Of course technology is already forging the solution to such dilemmas:  Virtual assistants; Artificial Intelligence.  The newest wave of hi-tech gadgets uses voice pattern recognition to determine how likely their users are to attend a first date before scheduling it, or how engaged a prospective Mr. Right is in the content of a conversation by analyzing his gaze and head gestures.  They can detect his mood based on his tone of voice and pacing of words. 

So, if both parties take their PDA’s to their exploratory first meeting at Peet’s, they won’t have to think at all about their prospects.  It’ll be done for them, virtually!  No muss, no fuss, no awkward actual interaction. 

In the trend to make the “human interface” even more user friendly, PDA’s should have the voice of our elders deliver the advice.  Over a latte, and from the palm of your hand, she’ll size him up and say, “Honey, you might as well throw this one back.  He’s got a drinker’s nose and he hardly held your attention anyway.” 

Thanks Grandma.