By now you've probably heard about Cloud Girlfriend, the dating website with the awful benefit of shrouding your identity with a fake username despite using your Facebook login. I was one of the first in line to try out this new application, getting access to the app while it was in development.
As Tech writer for the supreme xojane.com, I had some questions about cloudgirlfriend.com. Which groups of persons, may I ask, need a girlfriend in the virtual realm? Single, straight guys who spend a lot of time online? Maybe the prototypical "geeks" or "nerds," some who might even be coders or hackers, and, therefore, have a pretty tough time getting any ladies?
What about the Girlfriend in said Cloud? Is it a real, physical woman who happens to communicate with said boyfriend online? Or is it one real person masked behind the online image of an over-sexy, over-eager, possibly-a-porn-star "online girlfriend" stereotype?
How bout that "Cloud," hon? Is it a marketing ploy to represent a mysterious, celestial force that we aren't supposed to understand but are supposed to trust? Is it really a service with a scalable, robust backend, taking advantage of shared resources across a network? Or is it just a crummy men-looking-for-cute-women dating site?
Let's face it: the name "Cloud Girlfriend" is a bombshell for just about every demographic, including its target. Go ask a guy (yes, a guy) who works in tech if he's not sick of being pigeonholed as socially inept. Even without a functional product, its name alone generated a ton of press -- all because it played upon our preconceived stereotypes. Even if the majority of my open-ended question-assumptions are entirely off-base (which they are not), which of those press releases is out there talking about why this is so controversial?
I'll be writing about technology here on xojane. If you're looking for product reviews or advice on which doo-dad to buy, go to any of the other hundreds of fine tech blogs on the internet, because, honey, this is not the place for it. Don't get me wrong -- I know what I'm talking about, and I'm more than immersed in the industry. I just take a certain delight in thinking critically about our modern lives with technology: how our behaviors change toward our friends with sonograms as Facebook profile pictures, who the hell deemed yoga in marketing materials as an apt metaphor for women and technology (almost as if it's foreign, difficult, and not for everyone?) and livin' the life Off The Grid (without cable or landlines).
I'm pretty sure I'm an outlier in the tech community. I even hated The Hobbit, for god's sakes, and I'm not a fan-girl of anything (except Lady Gaga). But, truth be told, I'd like for there to be a whole lot more folks who ask these tough questions. Because, really, we women and men reading xojane alike, use, influence,and, in some cases, make these technologies, and we sure as hell like to be treated like the real people that we are.
So I welcome you, gentle xojane reader, to my Tech column: practical feminist discussion about our lives affected by technology. I am now accepting your questions. Remember: There are no stupid questions; only jerks who foster an atmosphere where questions aren't allowed.