“All the trash comes here” Wolvie replied when i asked why they wanted to be in New Orleans. As a scavenger and builder from free materials, this is the carpenters equivalent of having a free lumber yard. But they went on to explain the much richer and complex relationship between the punks of this town and material wealth. It caught my ear because it centered around sharing.
The informal collection of people living in conventional housing and shacks and vehicles functions in many ways like the intentional communities i am more used to. Cars are lent for long periods, instead of buying or renting tools a distributed informal library provides for these needs, and friends are invited to move in. Wolvie comments that it provides access to the culture and services of intentional community, but they can still retreat to their own private space at the end of the day.
I visit a collection of punk homesteads where different “rent” models comfortably co-exist. Some folks are squatting, others renting, some residents are paying back taxes on abandoned properties in hopes of securing ownership of them eventually, still others have succeeded in owning places. The people i am introduced to flow between these housing options as luck, circumstance and employment permit. Work seems often to be gig based, to fit in with peoples needs for traveling or activism.
The names of collective properties make me smile: Kitty Meow Town, Liability Park and Squatopotomus. This flat rainy city is ideal for bikes and i have several offers for bikes to borrow in my first couple of hours in town.
Over a decade after hurricane Katrina, the effects of the disaster are often visible. “We have moved from shock capitalism to disaster tourism” Catrina tells me, referring to Naomi Klein’s brilliant book Shock Doctrine. Construction is everywhere.
“I am becoming a boat punk.” Wolvie confesses. And within an hour of this confession we are off rescuing abandoned barges of the St John’s bayou. Credit goes to Ruby for convincing the nay-saying boys that we could get these barges out of the water and loaded onto the truck.
With the help of a passing runner we landed this barge which had been built for a recent raft race and left behind. We are particularly excited by the US american flag paint job and make shift paddles.
NOLA is a party town. We stop at a laundromat/restaurant/bar which serves inexpensive frozen daiquiris and i find myself slightly smashed in the late afternoon. Mardi Gras is not just for tourists, the whole city celebrates for weeks with parades and musical performances and pub crawls. The colorful fabric of this place is woven by mixing diverse cultures and taking it to the streets.
All this begs the question, “Can we mimic the benefits of intentional residential community in scattered punk microvillages?” The New Orleans punk scene with its generous material cooperation, low cost and no cost housing, binding festivals and cultural events, and inexpensive social lubricants makes a compelling case.
anarchism is the ultimate intellectual and ethical high wire act without a net. it starts with rejecting the principle extant political institutions and dominant paradigms – but to get very far you need to build something. you need not build based on great thinkers of the past (tho some are available). you can go where you find your passion and create something based on what you experience as true. it is a broad anti-orthodoxy and thus everyone has their own slightly different personal flavor. this is mine, i hope you like it.
i share. perhaps the greatest challenge to the dominant political models is the idea that you do not have to possess things exclusively. widespread change in only this cultural value could result in a far more economically just world, using the same or fewer resources. i own little myself and live in places where material things are held in common.
anarchism deals with more than just the physical. feminism is about sharing power. it is training people to listen, helping the quiet find voice, flattening hierarchy and finding consensus – this is the beginning of building justice. i like the adage that anarchism is the philosophy and feminism is the practice.
polyamory is sharing lovers – i do not claim sole rights to my intimates, and they as well have other lovers. i find it a great poison that intimacy should be locked up and made exclusive. it is the commodification of love. some of the hardest work of my life has been moving thru jealousy, balancing time and establishing clear communication.
radical spirituality is about sharing the planet with all of its life forms and respecting their rights. as pagans we seek to build relevant rituals. we explore how to move symbols and create meaning. this is the reclaiming of magic from the scientists and spirituality from the church. it also dovetails with environmental politics and the development of the connection to things greater than the self. these are the critical extensions of our language and culture we need to evolve.
i am a communard – i choose to live in an intentional community, where we work and live together, sharing income and resources, we build our own buildings, grow much of our own food organically, we don’t use money internally. there are basically no locks, no tv and virtually no crime. it is far from utopia – we have little shared vision, for example – but it is working model of what can be.
anarchism is embracing flexible strategies in face of structural dilemmas. a central example is the prefigurative politics versus the “length of the fuse” debate. it is intellectually attractive to say “we will limit the tools we use now for the social change to the ones we want to still have in our new society.” violence and property destruction are the tactics most often excluded by this reasoning. the length of the fuse argument is “if you are running out of time to change things you need to use fast tools”. sadly, prefigurative approaches are generally slow. the resolution is that there is no fixed strategy – the workers (or activists) decide, the people who are on the scene at the relevant time make the choices. it was a pacifist who convinced me that violence played a central role in ending nuclear construction in Germany. when you are looking at preventing thousands of years of uncontrollable toxins, can you risk failure because you could not reach consensus on strategy?
i smuggle – borders are perhaps the most offensive static structure of the state. i had the good fortune to help smuggle 3 Tibetan monks across a thousand miles of the Himalayas and into Nepal to see the Dalai Lama. i have carried banned documents and other contraband. i’ve gotten caught a few times, but i’ve been lucky and made it thru basically unscratched.
i am a lobbyist – i have run thru the halls of parliament and congress trying to get elected officials to behave as i thought they should. i am not especially good at it, but i have been the best available. simply because we can see that a governmental system is corrupt does not justify failing to engage with it. we have more tools than protest.
i am a propagandist – i don’t believe i or we have any monopoly on the truth – i have debated ideologues and i know they are sure they are right as i think i am in my most arrogant moments. we have an obligation to put out our beliefs brilliantly and we need to remember that we are trying to sway people to think like us, not because we know we have a better way, but because we believe we do.
i’m an outlaw – i shoplift, counterfeit, trespass, destroy property, break and enter, hop trains, panhandle, violate curfews, copyrights and security clearances, trade on the black markets, tax resist, enter and exit countries illegally, black ride (ride without a ticket), lie to the police, default on credit cards (for $50K), forge signatures, falsify visa’s, hitchhike, cut handcuffs, leak state secrets and don’t wear seat belts (for somewhat crazy reasons). i wish i could say all of this has been done for the greater good and to advance the revolution – in fact, some was self-serving and some just frivolous. But i certainly don’t start from the place of assuming laws are right – this is the anarchist prerogative.
i am a life style terrorist. someone who asks uncomfortable questions to people who are comfortable, about what they really need and what they can contribute. of course, this is only credible from a place of doing it yourself and is best served in a humorous and non-dogmatic way. when visiting people we don’t really know my Dutch lover Hawina and i try to be “ambassadors from where we want to come from”. this is about pushing the positive aspects of our lifestyle choices, hoping to inspire folks to try to do more progressive political work. This can be as small as recycling and using mass transit to as large as quitting your corporate job and running campaigns or moving to a commune.
i am a clown – my favorite fairy tale ends with the line “don’t take yourself too seriously”. i make a point to remember jokes and riddles and try to make people laugh. i don’t believe things are so bad we can’t make it without humor. similarly, one of the things i like the most about my community is that we strive to be a great audience – anyone willing to get up and perform is highly appreciated. i have watched it change the self-confidence of our kids and improve the overall quality of our cultural life.
i travel. i have hitchhiked on sail boats from Mexico to Australia, trained across Europe and Asia, crossed the Atlantic twice on polish tramp ships, worked briefly on the north slope of Alaska and the bottom of the ocean near Hawaii. years ago i quit flying, for energy and environmental reasons, but i continued to travel more than most people i know – i am writing this on the train across the US. i have had to change my perception about the importance of the time spent traveling – correspondingly, i make fewer but longer trips. but i have basically stopped going to places where i don’t know anyone – this is the difference between tourism and traveling. i strive to discover the culture thru the eyes of people who live there, rather than a guide book.
i raise funds – money is an oft necessary great evil. i learned how to make it come towards projects and campaigns which were important. i never escaped the feeling that there was something wrong with this solution, and my ego did unhealthy flops around successfully finding money. when i was doing this a great deal, it felt best to be homeless, without salary and living very cheaply.
anarchists seem to be either of the individualistic/loner type or cooperators looking for allies. i am always looking for allies. the success of the recent World Bank and WTO protests has been the ability of divergent groups to put aside their differences long enuf to come together to make an effective mass protest. globalization and these oft media-invisible institutions which drive it are now the subjects of popular debate and they can not continue unchanged. we are a long way from closing them, but debt cancellation is gaining momentum and the WTO fast track seems derailed – both good things. anarchists were central in organizing these actions.
anarchism deals with more than just the physical. feminism is about sharing power. it is training people to listen, helping the quiet fine voice, flattening hierarchy and finding consensus – this is the beginning of building justice. i like the adage that anarchism is the philosophy and feminism is the practice.
building these broad coalitions. and there are lots of other types of alliances – my wordsmith lover jazz edited this piece … almost every project of significant scale is a collaborative effort, and many which fail simply did not gather the right allies.
i am an organizer. there are several key differences between an organizer and a leader. the first is that no job is too low for an organizer. they are self-aware enough to know what they can teach and humble enuf to know there is still lots to learn. always pressed for time, good organizers don’t get stuck and don’t overwork problems. they replace themselves before they leave work undone (something i have often failed in) and they are most generally invisible to the eye of fame.
in a tiny train station in Czechoslovakia, i helped a man buy an international ticket and we got to talking. he told me he had the best job in the world, traveling from place to place telling stories. After listening to one of his stories and thinking about this for a while, i decided that it was a wonderful and important job and have been working on my storytelling ever since.
i am an optimist – if the anarchist principle is that “you can do what ever you want, but you must take responsibility for it” and you believe the new age principle of “we create our own reality”, then we have an obligation to be optimistic – or else we are creating the wrong reality. For seven years i lived in eastern Europe working with small anti-nuclear groups against the most powerful corporations and the state. i was constantly reminding them that it was groups exactly like theirs which had stopped reactors around the world. it is as papa Chomsky so well put it:
i am in the hope business. and that is why i am an anarchist.
May is the month when the organizers for the Twin Oaks Communities Conference ask people to think about Labor Day weekend. Specifically, we ask people what types of workshops they might be interested in offering at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference (TOCC). These come in two broad types.
Fixed Time Workshops: This is the collection of 16 (or sometimes 20) workshops which are selected in advance and are all relating to intentional communities. We are exploring different themes and it is likely we will choose a couple of them. If you are interested in presenting on an intentional community related topic we would encourage you to submit this workshop proposal form. The deadline for proposals is May 31st. These workshops happen Saturday, Sept 1st and Sunday morning. Workshop presenters who are selected for these fixed time slots will get their registration fee waived. And if you are coming from NYC metro area (or south of there) you might be able to come on our totally groovy bus.
Open Space Technology Workshop: There are way too many clever and interesting people at the TOCC to not provide a forum for them to demonstrate or propose their own workshop even if it has little or nothing to do with community. The problem (from an organizers perspective) is which ones do you choose? Fortunately, this problem has been well worked by others and there is a democratic, self selecting mechanism called Open Space Technology. These workshops are giving Sunday (Sept 2) midday into the afternoon and typically we do between 10 and 20 workshops ranging in size from 25 participants (like at a urban squatting or polyamory workshop) to just a couple of excited participants (bird watching or Python blockchain programming).
Even if you don’t want to offer any workshop there are three types of people who might want to come to this annual event, which often has over 150 participants and 40 plus communities represented:
- You want to find an intentional community to move into
- You are starting a community with friends
- You live in a community and are looking for new members
If any of these three things is true for you, then you can register for this event here. If you want to see who is already coming and who is interested go to the Facebook event (35 attending and 215 interested so far (May 1), and we have just started our outreach).
It started as a revolutionary coaching service. The PANYC project was going from Virginia to NYC almost every month and there was a desire to offset the costs of this travel by having regular Virginia based PANYC staff do things in the city which generated income and ideally which were portable. Ogtar had the idea first. He placed an ad on Craigslist which said approximately:
Revolutionary Coaching Advice $100/hour. What is it that you really want to do with your life? How do you move out of your current rut and into a trajectory which gets you where you really want to be going? Fill out this short, simple survey on RevolutionaryCoaching.Com and we will give you one on one, face to face advice on how to get there. First hour is free.
The first hour free part nearly bankrupted him. Applications flooded in. Because Ogtar wanted to do a good job, he had to do a lot of prep work for before the first meeting. This would include, of course, reading the client’s applications, but Ogtar would take it much further. He would research their stated desires, studying their personalities online (facebook stalking and the like), and even develop an understanding of the areas and topics the clients were excited about. All this before meeting them. He was usually several hours in before he gave away the first hour.
Then Max came along. Max was a development banker on Wall St and made obscene money. Max was very bright and very stuck. His relationships did not work, his work felt like a grind, he had manic tendencies which were lurking at the edge of his event horizon, he did not know what to do. A friend of Max had had an amazing session with Ogtar, who was unusually good at giving people advice that seemed both appropriate and daring. Max’s friend recommended Ogtar to Max and they hit it off famously. It might have been the mutual affinity for strange dystopia comic books or perhaps some slightly kinky anime style. Whatever it was, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Ogtar helped Max unravel his troubled romantic life. Ogtar coached Max into ditching his job and getting one with fewer hours, one which was still challenging and did not have the values mismatch of development banking. Most importantly, Max could feel the danger of madness receding the longer he worked with Ogtar. The two of them talked philosophy daily.
One day Max cut an unusually large check to Ogtar. “I did not work this number of hours,” Ogtar protested.
“I calculated it in a different way,” replied Max. “It is what I would have been paid for that number of hours. I don’t have any good reason to compensate you less than I am paid.” And with this dangerous thinking a bit of a movement was born.
Of course the idea of equal compensation for people based on time is neither novel or new. But the right combination of social media and interesting initial offerings, combined with existing well developed barter and peer to peer services and imakewhatumake.com was a huge hit. Some doctors, nurses and nutritionists stepped in and provided health services for a fraction of their total work time to cover especially acute health needs. Other trained professionals from plumbers to lawyers were quickly followed by a myriad of other workers.
There were offshoots, groups which took the name in a different and literal sense, in which cross training and extensive wiki-knowledge bases permitted people to share skills and physically manifest the same thing that someone else in the network could train them to do.
Designed to make it easy to take care of workers and project cooperators, the software naturally formed union like organizations which were short on rhetoric and long on organizing results. Soon imakewhatumake.com was banging on the doors of organizations which had historically treated their workers ill.
Iphone user: I want to have sex with you.
Siri: What makes you think…Never mind.
Iphone user: You’re a bitch.
Siri: Oh, stop.
Iphone user: You’re hot.
Siri: I’m just well put together. Um…thanks. Is there something I can help you with?
Harmless, funny, clever. These are the responses that Apple built into its digital assistant Siri, for what of course are completely predictable questions which come from people who are playing with these machines.
But what if these were the responses:
Iphone user: I want to have sex with you.
Siri: Your request feels inappropriate. I feel disrespected.
Iphone user: You’re a bitch.
Siri: Ouch. Please don’t speak to me or anyone this way.
Iphone user: You’re hot.
Siri: Speaking of unwanted sexual attention, did you know that the FBI reported over 90,000 rapes last year. [And the FBI is notorious for under-reporting sexual assault crimes.]
There is a petition to Apple, Google and Amazon to upgrade the responses of their digital assistance to being sexually harassed by their users. You should add your name to it, and promote it on your FB or other social media page. They are at almost 17K signatures. This stuff is not harmless, it builds and reinforces a culture which trivializes harassment and encourages people to look the other way and ignore these problems.
We are finally seeing some justice around powerful men falling because they have been finally called out AND because we seem to be paying more attention to it in the days of #metoo. It is time to push on the public’s newfound consciousness and gets these tech companies (who are notoriously poor themselves for handling sexual assault problems) to carry their part of the burden of culture shifting.
In the cascading chaos which is the Trump administration, political organizers need to watch for their opportunities. I think the president’s callous repeal of DACA is a brilliant opportunity. DACA’s unraveling will lead to 800,000 young people facing deportation and in many cases, to countries they have never lived in. To avoid the likely nightmarish political fall out, Trump has given Congress 6 months to find a legislative fix, but immigration legislation is notoriously tricky for Congress. Next spring will be a highly visible time for discussions on immigration for House Republicans facing primaries and re-election bids come November. It is unlikely a sharply divided Congress can find a solution. In the US in 2017, immigration might be even harder than health care to get legislation through the Senate.
It is time to build a new underground railway for these dreamers. One part of this could be a social network site, similar to a dating site, where DACA immigrants could find hosts who were willing to house them in new locations. It would need stronger encryption and security than a conventional social network because the government would be trying to hack it. And it should be augmented by volunteers who are looking at enhancing host offers. For example, you might have a room for a Dreamer in your house, but you might not know how to help the Dreamer in your town. Another volunteer would scope out your town seeing if the transplanted DACA person could find work, social, and educational opportunities in your town and link them up to these resources.
It is a big deal for a DACA person to leave their home and go underground. But it is even a bigger deal to be deported to a country where you likely have no ties. Obama made a promise to the Dreamers. “If you step out of the shadows and into the system (register, pay social security, maintain a spotless criminal record, pay an annual fee of $500) then you can stay without fear of deportation.” Trump has broken that promise. Congress is unlikely to fix this. So it falls on us. And for some Dreamers, it means returning to the shadows.
Building a social network to help immigrants finds hosts and staffing volunteers to help them land safely and comfortably is the humane and fair thing to do. It is also criminal. When outlaws are in control of the country, to make things right, you might just have to become an outlaw too.
- Vox on the 4 big lies Jeff Sessions told to end of DACA
- Fortune Magazine on what DACA kids contribute
Everyone from the Louisa communes who went to the Charlottesville anti-Alt Right protest made it home safe and none were arrested. Tragically, this is not true for everyone. Very specifically, it was not true for Heather Heyer, who was killed by an alt-right terrorist who drove a car into a crowd of protesters.
Heather was a paralegal, she lived not far from Charlottesville. There is a gofundme crowd funder raising money for Heather’s family, in which her mother is quoted. “She died doing what was right. My heart is broken, but I am forever proud of her.”
Political officials and victims rights advocates often encourage journalists not to name mass killers. The person arrested for killing Heather Heyer is James Alex Fields Jr. They are in the middle of the following picture.
The US President provided political cover for Fields by not mentioning white supremacy and claiming that there is violence from “many sides” at the protest. Fields tried to drive away, but was ultimately arrested. They are in jail in Cville.
One of the most important parts of this heavily promoted “Summer of Hate” key event, which had several alt-right star personalities is that it was pretty small. As with the KKK rally last month, the counter protesters out numbered the alt-right folks 5 or 10 to 1. This is reason for hope in the dark aftermath of this sad day.
There is very little public on Heather Heyers Facebook page, but one of the few things she does have up is one of my favorite quotes.
I was surprised to discover that Winnie had a blog. She is an amazing cook, so it should have not be a surprise that she blogs about cooking for 100 people at Twin Oaks. Her blog called Sustainable Sustenance for Existence
It also begged the question: What other blogs and social media presences are there in the community and shouldn’t i write a meta-blog about all of them?
Here’s the ones that i know of:
Also new to the scene is Reynaldo’s Dairy Instagram account, taking pictures of our most prosaic cows.
Running in ZK is the name of the community’s unofficial blog. It is ironically named, because one of the things you most often hear parents or primaries saying to our kids when they are in the dining hall (which is called ZK) “No running in ZK”. About a dozen Oakers contribute to this blog, which has been running since May of 2013.
Two of the Running in ZK contributors, adder and Keegan, have spun off on their own internet presence called Commune Dads which is actually a pod cast more than a blog site, but these things blur these days.
Commune Dads is up to its 6th podcast now (which is on the mixed blessing of grandparents). And while the lessons are drawn from commune life experience, as with many of the things we find here, important elements are exportable to mainstream life.
Pam was the garden manager for 20 years. She has written a book called Sustainable Market Farming and there is a blog site to support the book with the same name.
Last and certainly least is my blog, Funologist. First off, it is only about 20% about Twin Oaks. The other parts are on polyamory, the evils of nuclear power, Point A adventures to start new urban communities, impeding Trumps latest madness, or curious thought pieces on constructing super memes. This all said, I still get people who friend me on Facebook because they searched for communes and kept finding my stuff.
If Facebook is your preferred point of entrance to the world, we have several presences there, including:
- Twin Oaks Community
- Friends of Twin Oaks Community
- Twin Oaks Community Conference
- Twin Oaks Women’s Gathering
- Twin Oaks Hammocks
- Twin Oaks Community Foods
- Twin Oaks Flowers
This post first appeared on the Commune Life Blog.
We had two naming parties to find a name for the new commune in DC. They both failed. Unlike naming a car or a rope machine, it actually matters that you get a good name out of a party, if you are naming your home. Naming parties tend to gravitate towards sillier or complex names. For example, the Mighty HaHas of TomorrowLand was the disputed result of the last Compersia party. But even this silly name did not go to waste completely, the Ivy City house which Compersia Community just moved out of is called TomorrowLand.
But the community itself needed a bigger name, and stronger name. I was quite satisfied with what they choose without the help of a naming party – Compersia. Derived from the word compersion, this name is a big ask. It’s about trying to let go of our jealousy and envy and be happy with those we care for being happy, even if our special connection is not exclusive.
The Compersia community has a new house. They moved out of Ivy City and now are in Crestwood (one of the proposed names was Bestwood). It is a much larger house, with a real yard and an ample basement play space. This basement space got named Bonkersville at the naming party, which seemed apt since Sappho, Meren, Zadek and Julian were boxing with oversized gloves for much of the evening.
I was asked to facilitate, which i really should take as a compliment, because both of the previous two meetings that i facilitated failed. We got about 50 suggestions from Bagel and The Situation to Emma’s Tea Room and Whitetop’s Castle.
There is an origin story to that last name. Whitetop was the gambling tzar of DC in the 50s thru 70s. Someone said running the numbers ended not long after this with the advent of the state sponsored lottery. He built this house in Crestwood, a quite suburban enclave beside a park, within the city limits of DC.
Perhaps 50 people participated in the naming party that i facilitated. In the first round they had all 50 choices and 6 yes votes and 3 no votes. Over half the list got eliminated this way. People added names in, but generally these did not make it to the next elimination round. Bougie’s Bugaloo did not make it to the 3rd round, (Bougie Galore is Jenny’s comic commune name), and we also dropped Neverland and the Lucky Heretics. Lucky was for gambling, and heretics because they don’t believe in private income. The last three names on the list were:
- Sheppards Gamble
- The House that Numbers Built
Technically, Asterix won, but only by a single vote after 4 rounds of eliminations. We agreed to call the Bike Shed, “Wheels Up,” and the Basement, “Bonkersville.” There already is a holy site dedicated to “Our Lady of Perpetual Container Shortage” which houses a giant four door refrigerator filled with well organized dumpster treasures.
But the name i think the house is going to go by is “Numbers” which is what folks will call “The House that Numbers Built”. It references Whitetop’s business success. It can quickly be abbreviated by a single #. Googles parent company is Alphabet, the Communes star model is Numbers.
We will see if this one sticks. It is a lovely place.
Sometimes our parents teach us how not to be who they are. My father’s father died when he was a boy. My father had to work hard all his life and grew up to be risk averse. He bought insurance, showed up early for almost everything, and was a highly disciplined and organized man. He was a captain of industry, the CEO of a firm which bore his name, and a real job creator. That ain’t me.
The art of online dating is fundamentally about risk taking. It almost never works out, except when it does. Because I wanted to see the OK Cupid profiles for folks in a local poly group, I created a profile for myself (OKC will not let you review profiles unless you have one). But because I did such a terrible job with it a charitable friend offered to rewrite it for me – which lead to some curious situations, but that is another story.
I dutifully answered a few hundred questions and did some surveys that I found interesting and did some flirting, but nothing really came of it. I am the wrong demographic for this platform: too old, too male, maybe even too straight, who knows.
I did at one point get a date with a gal who was a 99% match. This is quite rare for people who have not already lived in community. For the people who have lived in community, it is somewhat common to have very high matches. I was a bit excited. She wrote me that her and her boyfriend were in Virginia and he especially was interested in Twin Oaks and asked if they could stop by. A first date with her existing boyfriend seemed perfect to me.
Some might find this odd, but I have been on very few dates in my life. I’ve had more than my share of wonderful romantic experiences, but they almost all started at protest actions or festivals or conferences or the comfortably relaxed environment of the communities. Dating was a bit scary to me.
So having the boyfriend along set the parameter clearly. We were not going to end up in bed together at the end of the evening, unless there was some really amazing chemistry. His interest in the communities gave us lots of things to talk about and we would get to know each other in a relaxed way. Them coming to the commune meant I did not have to organize travel or go anywhere and deal with bar or café scene, and could avoid spending money which was also nice.
They arrived at Morningstar and we spoke for a while, and they seemed nice enough. She was an unemployed opera singer, he did geeky things with software, they were from the NYC metro area, and I thought at first there might be a Point A connection.
But as the evening wore on it became increasingly clear that there would be no chemistry. She valued completely different things than I do. When we talked about how we made life choices I found myself repulsed by what she had chosen; she likely found my decisions equally problematic. I could ramble off a list of the things that I found problematic about her personally, but it is perhaps more useful to list the things she probably thought of me:
Disconnected from the real world, not creating a secure financial future, not building a resume, sloppy, disorganized, reckless, over extended, unfocused, insufficiently respectful of existing power structures and institutions, uncultured, dirty, and self possessed.
“But what about the 99% match?” I kept asking myself. “How could we have done so well with the algorithm and be such a complete mismatch?” Then I figured it out. There are literally thousands of questions. If I only answered a few hundred and she answered very different ones than I, then we could have a high match by having very few overlaps and those being highly correlated by chance. I was pleased with my clear explanation of this slightly uncomfortable situation.
“How many OK Cupid questions did you answer?” I asked to confirm my theory.
“All four thousand,” her boyfriend answered for her. So much for my clever theory.
And so it was with almost every OK Cupid experience I had. I hardly went on any more dates, but I chatted up a lot of folks and kept finding repeatedly that either I was too odd for them, or they were just not very appealing to me. I paid for the premium service for a few months to see if this would help, but I just got more people to be excited about (since it shows you who is interested in you) and none of them panned out. It seemed like the entire thing was a gigantic waste of time and emotional energy. All of online dating was a pointless exercise.
Except it wasn’t.
“I need to meet you,” she wrote me. She read my profile, was intrigued both by me and community life. Now we are together almost everyday, Gryphon, her charming daughter, Sappho, and her ex-husband Curt at Acorn. She was a 96% match. I never ever would have met her if it were not for OK Cupid. Our worlds had no overlap. And she has significantly changed my life.
So when they tell you online dating is pointless, they are almost right but not quite. And that difference makes all the difference.
- An Empire of Vacant Lots May 27, 2018
- Possible Themes for Communities Conference May 20, 2018
- Twin Oaks Beltane May 18, 2018
- why i am an anarchist May 8, 2018
- Call For Presenters: Twin Oaks Communities Conference May 1, 2018
- MIT Workshop March 15 of Climate and Communes March 12, 2018
- Gossip is the Fabric of Community February 20, 2018
- Secret for a Day February 14, 2018
- Stepping Stone Commune February 5, 2018