They say e-mail and IM is the death of interpersonal communication. Well, if the latest dating service in front of me right now is any indication, love could be following the same path. Enter Cloud Girlfriend, a new service which allows you to have a fantasy romance online.
The site categorizes itself as "a mix between Match.com and Second Life." Indeed it is: Unlike other more traditional dating sites, there's no requirement that you present yourself as who you really are. So say you're a 5'2" guy who weighs 110 pounds soaking wet. Have no fear, you're now a 6'3" 220-pound gym rat.
Who You Want to Be, Not Who You Are
After creating your profile on Cloud Girlfriend with who you want to be (rather than who you really are), the site's algorithms then proceed to search through other profiles in order to find you a match. Now this person probably isn't real either, so you have no clue who you're really talking to.
Like what you see? You can request a "date." If you start connecting with this person somehow, you can choose to reveal your actual identity through social networks. You use uses Facebook Connect to register for Cloud Girlfriend. However, your Facebook identity is never disclosed nor is anything posted to your Facebook Wall without your permission.
At least these folks say they have your personal privacy in mind, but I have to argue that if you just enticed somebody into talking to you with a fake profile, why the heck would want to tell them who you really are?
Cloud Girlfriend: Love Counselor?
The site's co-founder David Fuhriman seems to have a rather lofty vision for the site, saying that his idea will help people to manage real relationships by transferring what they've learned in Cloud Girlfriend to the real world. He also equates the whole fantasy aspect of the service to those daily affirmation calls that while fake, still offer the positive benefit of making you feel better about yourself.
Call me crazy, but that argument isn't too scientifically sound. If anything, using Cloud Girlfriend is going to keep you in the house even more. So while you're busy maintaining your relationships in the cloud, opportunities for a real-world girlfriend (or boyfriend) may be passing you by.
The site claims thousands of users after a late March launch. It also has changed its premise from a site that was intended to have a staff of women answering as the "girlfriends," to one that connects users to one another.
True Love Possibilities
While Fuhriman and company may have a noble premise on which they're basing the service on, I personally feel this does more harm than good. I'm no expert on love but I'll say this: Get out of the house. You're never going to fix whatever shortcomings you may have when it comes to love on a computer.