Thursday, February 23, 2012

OPINION: LikeALittle does a lot of damage

By Jack Sorensen, Focus Editor

There’s something wrong with this.

I find LikeALittle a fascinating example of modern human communication — an anonymous flirting site that reduces the now-antiquated need for face-to-face icebreaking. However, I also find some users’ use of the site concerning, and think what was once a fun, friendly and unimportant distraction has become the stomping ground for several individuals who seem to be obsessed with the sexuality of Pacific Lutheran males.

After I shared my intentions for a LikeALittle Focus Section, my significant other thought it would be funny to post a flirt about me without my knowing. Within the first three comments, a user wrote, “he’s gay.” Note: my name had been identified in the thread, so the user who was convinced I was gay knew who he or she was writing about.

Another user soon commented, asserting he or she knew me and that I was straight.
I am straight. The flirt was posted by my girlfriend who was curious about the site after I explained the story idea. This personal experience with LikeALittle users was disturbing—not because I am concerned with people thinking I’m gay. I’m a theatre major. It comes with the territory. I have no qualms and am not ashamed by community members questioning my sexuality.

My concern is purely hypothetical. What if I was gay? What if I was gay, but didn’t feel comfortable enough to “come out” to the community? I would have just been publicly outed on LikeALittle.

This kind of speculation is beyond inappropriate — it is downright dangerous. Thankfully, I was not victimized by this particular LikeALittle user’s self-appointed authority to describe my sexuality, but I easily could have been in a different situation. I easily could have been outed before I was comfortable with myself.

Let’s get a life, people. This was once a wildly entertaining site where users could toy with flirtations and secret crushes, like a junior high playground. It was innocent and, in some cases, sweet. But some users have chosen to steal the site’s innocence, rendering it a battleground of gossip and malicious speculation.

If all you can think of to say is, “he’s gay” or “he’s not on your team,” don’t comment. Keep it to yourself, let the site keep its fun and let the author keep their innocent flirt.

On a side note, whoever “Grape” is: thank you, very much. You seem like a nice person — we should hang out.