Without a Blood Alcohol Content of .10, it can be tricky to get up the nerve to ask out that “perfect 10” in your chemistry lecture. Fortunately for all the Nervous Nellies and Shy Ronnies across campus, maintaining your virginity is no longer the only option. LikeALittle.com, a website launched on Oct. 25, aims to help the meek, the mild and the all-around creepy avoid another Friday night alone watching Full House reruns.
According to a Jan. 14 article in the Michigan Daily, LikeALittle’s CEO and co-founder Evan Reas hopes to build “a social network where people around each other can connect” — a novel concept, no doubt. But if you ask me, Reas was being modest. LikeALittle is a platform for modern Edgar Allan Poes and 21st century Elizabeth Barrett Brownings to bear their souls, as evidenced by three recent posts on the site’s University of Michigan page:
“Female, blonde. 5’3, skinny, does kegstands. I saw you at a frat party doing a kegstand. I was impressed…Your hot. Hit me up.”
“Male, Brunette. You were jump-roping after you ran. Nice endurance.”
“Female, blonde. You were barfing outside a party of State Street. It was gross.”
And they say romance is dead.
Of course, this isn’t the first instance when the Internet has served as a breeding ground for love connections. Back when we were still watching Recess, our weird uncles were using online dating websites to, well, let’s face it, embellish their various accomplishments and embrace perhaps lackluster physical appearances in hopes of scoring a date (“Middle-aged man with ‘more to love’ seeks chubby chaser”). What makes LikeALittle standout is of course the anonymous factor — the ability for users to hide behind the screen names the site selects, all named after fruit.
Now, I’m not concerned with the site’s effects on flirting and relationships. Despite the fact that Reas describes the site as a “flirting facilitator platform,” it’s fairly obvious that most users use LikeALittle as a stage for a battle of wits, as anonymous posters try to out-clever fellow users with academic innuendos (“I’d like to light your Bunsen burner”) and deliberate placement of Ke$ha lyrics. The real concern? The website is a breeding ground for narcissism and has the potential to feed into our generation’s already massive ego.
For years, psychologists have claimed that the modern college student is becoming increasingly self-absorbed, which has led to people coining a slew of new titles for Generation Y — Generation ‘N’ for narcissism, Generation Me or simply “brats.” In 2009, USA Today reported that 57 percent of college students polled believed that social networking sites fueled self-promotion and narcissism, while two-thirds of students surveyed said our generation was more egocentric than any other. Two years later, that percentage is most likely on the rise, and anonymous sites such as LikeALittle and Formspring are sure to up the ego ante.
My fears of the growing generational egotism were elevated as I overhead students in the East Quad cafeteria while they were huddled around a laptop as they scrolled through the site.
“Oh my God, male, brunette, green shirt — I was wearing a green shirt two days ago!”
“Wait, wait — beautiful, blonde, female, in the Bursely dining hall? Do you think that’s me?!”
“You guys, this is so creepy….Hey, wait, scroll back up. Female, brown hair, reading a book? Is my hair brown? I was totally reading yesterday.”
The group of students continued to refresh the website, hoping that someone, somewhere — whether it was in Angell Hall or outside of a bathroom at the UGLi — had noticed them.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional ego boost, but we’re starting to go too far. Through the compulsive use of social networking sites, our generation is taking compliment fishing to a whole new level. If a day goes by without a single Facebook notification, it’s almost as if we’ve been cast off by society. And now with LikeALittle, students peruse the website and become offended if they aren’t mentioned in the hundreds of posts — despite the fact we go to a university with more than 40,000 students who could just as easily be described as “brunette, eating lunch in Mojo.” Do we really need the constant attention? Isn’t it a little self-absorbed to assume —
Oh, wait, what’s this — “female, blonde, glasses, creeping in EQ South Cafe” — OMG, do you think that’s me?
Melanie Kruvelis is an LSA freshman.