PING! The Dating Queue

bellHe may call you, but it’s unlikely with all the modes of indirect communication at his disposal. It’s more likely that he’ll text or Instant Message you. He’ll tell you he’s in town, but make no plans to see you. Or, he’ll text you some random fact or conversation opener, leaving out one crucial piece of information: Why is this relevant to you?

He’s a less memorable ex, someone who’s admired you from afar (sometimes VERY far), or a male associate who thinks that smudging the lines of platonicity will work in his favor. Whatever it is, it is blurry.

I continue to look at modern dating and gender dynamics with an anthropological sense of wonder. How did we become so detached, yet screaming out for love and attention? How did “I like you” become a slur that must never be spoken? When did showing genuine interest become the real-life equivalent of playing all your cards, and rejection a fate worse than death or angry, involuntary celibacy?

To “PING” someone, according to master networker Keith Ferrazzi, is to send someone short but regular correspondences to maintain them as a part of your network. A decade ago, a ping would be a short phone call, a brief email or even *gasp* a written note, sent in the mail. Modern technology has given us even more ways to ping, including:

Text Messaging: I resisted it for the longest, but it is the most effective way to remind someone of your existence, without engaging them in a real way. The format demands brevity. Be forewarned: If someone you’re associated with only texts you, and doesn’t make attempts to call or see you, you are not high on their queue.

Social networks: What is a wall, picture or status comment, other than a ping? I can even tell you I “like”-d what you posted, without saying anything else. And Twitter is ping central. You can respond to people’s vague/random/mindless self-disclosures without disclosing anything about yourself. Twitter is like the world’s largest cocktail party, all conversation and little content. Caveat: I have met people through Twitter, and it makes sense since Twitter is about conversation. By the time you see the person in real life, you’ve already talked to them (in less than 140-word intervals).

Instant Messaging (to a degree): This is more conducive to actual conversations, and is even more personal than texting. But you can still use it to drop someone a quick line, make yourself known, and disappear back into the social ether.

So why would a potential love interest want to ping you, instead of make a real connection with you? Call me naïve (you wouldn’t be the first), but it wasn’t until recently that I suspected that many of these people, men or women, have a dating queue. It works like any other queue: The person at the top gets the most attention, with the other folks getting what’s left. Thus is it quite possible that someone who just pops up every now and then to keep you in their networks is actually trying to keep you in the queue. It’s like the Neflix queue; some flicks aren’t available yet, but you can add them anyway, and wait until they’re “in stock.”

Can you really be in the queue without knowing or consenting to it? Yes, if you aren’t aware of the signs. So the big question is: Does it matter if you are? It depends on how you feel about the person, and yourself. People are just like movies: Good movies are higher in the queue, but “good” is subjective. I have movies that have been in my queue for years, that I’m not ready to watch, not ready to add to the top. I’m not in the right mood, or I want to see something lighter. People are the same way.

7 thoughts on “PING! The Dating Queue

  1. soaringbutterfly

    as always…very interesting.


  2. Tricie

    the only thing that makes me uncomfortable with this is that someone else is telling me what it means to do what i do (in addition to millions of other people) and im not sure anyONE can do that. it is true that by mere observation we can identify enormous patterns in human behavior, but what scares me is this: that if everyone reads this, we’ll all be like “oh yeh!! that’s so true!” (and i did, lol) and instead of resisting the paradigm, and instead of throughtfully interrogating it (despite whether we’ll end up reaching the same conclusion), we’ll just accept it. take it for granted and almost call the observations into existence. you know what i mean?

    it happens all of the time. that’s how standards of beauty have become what they are. that’s how some people “learned” good hip hop music, or what “fresh” sneakers are supposed to look like, how oprah became famous etc etc etc. instead of, get this… people being thoughtful about what it is that they do. like whatever happened to “i” statements. “i” text because im at work during the day and i can’t talk. by the time i get off of work, “i” usually call my parents first, and then my cousin, and then my bff. “i” text some people because they get on my goshd*rn nerves!!! and getting caught in a too-long conversation always kills a little part of my soul. “i” text because it’s easier and i don’t like to bother people. despite that sometimes i actually do want to see them or talk to them over the phone. “i” text for a lot of reasons… and i am complicated – not in the drama drama way, but in the “i have an essence, sure, but very few days know the same thoughts” way. am i alone?

    anyway, with that said. i certainly think there is a lot of truth to these observations. and it makes me sad. because i am very old fashioned and i have found myself settling for these new forms of communication because that’s what people is doin these days… twitter has slowly taken over my life. i haven’t been on today but for a moment, but i plan to in 5, 4, 3, 2,…

    as i like to say, #wompwomp…


  3. Rashid

    I glanced at this on FB but never got a chance to read it. You just made me think about Q and I’s friendship tiering system, so I wrote about it, lol.


  4. ihsanamin

    Interesting take on things…

    I look at text messaging as a way to just send short messages.
    I don’t think they’re good for any kind of extended conversation.
    But they can serve as the little “Thank you!” or “I love you!” note.
    Or serving the same purpose as pagers back in the day, scheduling quick booty calls! j/k

    Just seems like the normal progression of integrating technology into our lives.
    Impersonal? Yeah… Little bit.
    I just wouldn’t automatically flag anyone doing it as being less inclined to value the relationship.

    But as far as the dating queue thing… That’s lame, but it’s the reality.

    People are quite self-absorbed these days, so them having others/potential SO options set up in an order of importance isn’t too shocking to me.

    Maybe the whole impersonal techy stuff DOES hamper how people relate to each other, but I think that it would happen just as easily in another manner without it.

    I’m interested in seeing what others think about this…


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