Heads up, this content is 16 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

engage2.jpgThere’s a new dating site on the scene called Engage.com, and it’s bragging about its unique social aspects. In truth, it looks pretty awesome. They encourage friends to match each other up (in contrast to the “Web 1.0” model of seeking out strangers), and they seem to have the tools to make it work. They’re presenting themselves as hip and in touch with what people are really looking for. They’re also sponsoring a party tonight called Love 2.0, which I’m heading out to in about an hour.

They seem well intentioned, but they’ve missed the boat on the categories issue. Their site is so rigidly structured by gender and gender preference that I couldn’t even complete my profile without being forced to lie. It’s not the “okay, i’ll call myself this for now and then go do what I actually want to do” kind of lie. It’s the “wow, I really can’t do half the things I’d like to do here because you won’t let me be honest about who I am” kind of lie. I’m not impressed.

So last Friday, I wrote them a letter:

subj: I’d like you to acknowledge bisexuality.

Hi Team Engage,

A friend just invited me to the Love 2.0 event this Monday that you’re sponsoring, and was excited to tell me about your site. I tried to sign up, but was disappointed to find out that you don’t acknowledge bisexuality. I don’t have a gender preference in my dating, and it would be dishonest and limiting for me to express one.

I dug through your FAQ trying to find some acknowledgment of this situation, and only came up with this:

Does Engage support same-sex matches?
Of course! No one is left out on Engage. You can fix up same-sex couples as long as they’ve both indicated that that’s their preference when they registered for Engage.

It’s important for you to know that I’m feeling pretty left out right now, and many of my friends would, too.

I’m active in the social media tech industry and dating scene, and your site sounds awesome. But I can’t use it if this limitation is going to be such a major aspect of how the site is organized. It’s offensive to me.

Can you change this? Please?

Or at least tell me why it’s important for you to have the restriction?

I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to this.

Many thanks,

It’s been three days and I haven’t seen a response, despite the fact that their automated email promised they’d get right back to me.

Engage.com Relationship Status OptionsSo now I’m going to dress up in my finest cleavage-boosting men’s suit, head over to their party, and ask them about this myself. I’ll be joined by a friend who takes issue with the fact that they don’t acknowledge open relationships or the equivalent of Facebook’s “It’s Complicated.” (You can only be matched up if you designate yourself as single.) Weirdly enough, though, they do provide categories for Divorced, Separated, and Widowed… as though those should significantly impact how you should be labeled on the site.

Just warning you in advance.

Heads up, this content is 16 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

A Jewish friend of mine called me tonight after attending a lecture on the history of Christianity. When I answered the phone he started speaking a mile a minute about charisma, redaction, contradictions, Paul, gentiles, marketing strategies for salvation in ancient times, and the difference between “what likely happened” and “what was written about later on.” The lecture gave him a framework for looking at the story of Jesus in a way that actually made sense to him for the first time in his life, and he was bursting with revelations.

He said, “I had to talk to someone about this, and I knew you’d understand.”

My mom is a liberal UCC minister who is married to a Catholic. My aunt is a Reiki healer who is married to an Episcopal priest. My uncle is a Methodist minister. His son married a female rabbi. My other uncle and his wife and kids are all born-again Christians who have done extensive missionary work in other countries. My other uncle is 17-years sober recovering alcoholic who hits his knees every single morning and every single night to thank God for keeping him alive another day. My grandmother has been teaching Bible Study since God created the heavens and the earth, and she will continue to teach it until she gets swept up by the Rapture.

My mother says, “There are many ways to get to God, but you need to pick one.”

In the spirit of both acceptance and rebellion, I’ve been calling myself an Eclectic Agnostic since I was 16. This means that I don’t care who wrote what down in any book; I acknowledge that I am human, and that I don’t get to know much of anything at all. It also means that I play around in religion like it’s a swimming pool full of finger paints. I’ve considered myself a Taoist, a Buddhist, a Pagan, a Christian, and a whole lot of other things that I’m not quite sure how to label. As far as I’ve been able to tell, they’re all different words for the same experience of feeling connected and recognizing the importance of life.

A friend of mine in high school said to me, “You can’t just up and be a Taoist.”

I walked away from Christianity when I started picking apart the words. The image of a personified God made absolutely no sense to me. I put my hands on my hips and announced defiantly, “No, there is NOT an old man with a long grey beard in a white robe sitting in a big chair in the sky behind a pearly gate, pushing buttons and turning levers and determining what’s going to happen to us next. Uh-uh. No way. Ya’ll are stupid.” Fortunately for me, my über-religious family is also extraordinarily patient and accepting of the fact that people need to find their own paths. I’m a logic-brained writer. My path takes language very seriously.

If images of God are just metaphors, then aren’t monotheism and polytheism essentially talking about the same thing?

So I picked it apart. For awhile, I was convinced that Time was my higher power. It’s way more powerful than me. I’m always trying to speed it up or slow it down and I have absolutely zero impact on it. It’s also a reliable force to lean on when I need help. If I just let Time do it’s job while I focus on doing my own, it will pretty consistently save my ass.

That’s like God, right?

But I keep coming back to the core of my spirituality — a space in my life that I only started to be able to refer to as God again about a year ago (although I find I get fewer raised eyebrows when I refer to it as “The Universe” in the Bay Area). I recently grappled with it from a gender perspective and ended up with a beautiful poem that healed a lot of my old anger.

If we are all made in the image of God, then how in God’s name can God be gendered?

Tonight I found my thoughts on someone else’s blog. The completely amazing Emma McCreary wrote a beautiful post about the difference between our culture’s old ideas of God versus its new ideas of God. It perfectly sums up the tension I’ve felt around religions and explains why I keep going back to it: the new ideas work for me. In typical Emma fashion, she writes in a voice that is fluent in both Business and Spirituality — a mix I too rarely get to enjoy. Please go read her post, God is Bottom-Up, and tell me if it doesn’t resolve all of this stuff and put us all onto the same page once and for all.

I think the joy ninja’s got it.

Heads up, this content is 16 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

First, the news. Flickr announced a new service that allows you to post videos up to 90 seconds long.

Next, the response. Flickr Video is getting a lot of criticism, mostly because the 90 second limitation is unusually short for an online video service in 2008.

Now, the joke. In the spirit of Internet humor, the Twitter-based peanut gallery has decided to turn its griping about Flickr Video into a parody of the Barack Obama is your New Bicycle website (which is a parody in itself).

Now, the real joke. Who’s griping about Flickr Video? Oh, right. Twitter users! As Barb Dybwad points out, these are people who love the creative restriction of 140 characters in text, but just can’t yet fathom an equivalent in video. Hey Twitterati! You thought Twitter was stupid when you first heard about it, too. Either give creative restriction a chance, or use Vimeo. Flickr isn’t trying to be the next YouTube. It’s trying to do something new.

Okay, but back to the joke. Even though I don’t support the goal of this protest, I think its execution is brilliant and hilarious. Here’s a sampling of some of the gems I’ve picked up via the Tweet Scan:
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