Monday, September 14, 2009

Here Come The Retrosexuals

So remember last month when I wrote about Facebook and the "cyber-ghetto" it was rapidly becoming? To wit: "But watching people in their 30's, 40's and 50's jump on in the past 18 months or so has been a hilarious, sociological car crash. Between trying to relive the 80's and escape their humdrum current existence, Facebook morphed from something cool for college students, to a medium for sad, middle aged shut-ins, predators, trolls and narcissists."

This Time Magazine article has dubbed the desire to "hook up" with old crushes and ex-flames "Retrosexuals" and features a quote from a UGA psych faculty member:

As Facebook users have begun to skew older--the website is now as popular with 30-, 40- and 50-somethings as with the college students who pioneered it--they have found ways to reconnect with one another. And who better to get in touch with than an old flame? The Boston Phoenix even coined a term, retrosexuals, for people who are taking the plunge into recycled love.

Most retrosexual experiences seem to spring from an intense, almost uncontrollable mixture of nostalgia and interest. "You get a thrill out of finding an old girlfriend just to see if she still likes you," says W. Keith Campbell, a University of Georgia psychology professor and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic. "You're curious to see what she looks like, and it's easy to fantasize about alternative courses your life might have taken."
Ah, the "what if scenario." Funny how people who engage in those fantasies fail to realize that had the "what if" worked out, your current life wouldn't exist. But perhaps that's the point.

Note too in my post last month I ended with this admonition: "Re-connecting seems to be the primary motive for older people on Facebook, but this too seems odd. You are re-connecting with people you no longer have anything in common with, save the fact that you're on Facebook. And people change from how you remember them, many for the worse."

From the Time piece:
Then [Jillian Stein] reconnected with her first crush, "the embarrassing kind where I couldn't even talk to him, I liked him so much." He had liked her too; they confessed their old crushes on each other through MySpace and arranged to meet in person the next time Stein was in town. But when she met him at a bar, she was immediately disappointed. He had gained weight, worked in a dead-end job and had already been engaged three times. "I was like, um, no," she says.
Snort. I actually had one student ask me if she should be concerned about her parents ("and all those old people") being on Facebook. I said probably not, but if they start busting out their 80's fashion and Journey albums again, watch out.

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