A few months ago, my good friend Dylan sent me an email inviting me to join Friendster, the website designed to help friends separated by long distances stay in touch and other people, separated by short distances, simply touch. The site serves as a kind of digital friend-generator, helping computer-savvy folks, not to mention the painfully shy, meet "activity partners" or, for the more adventurous and possibly desperate, find dates.
***image1*** The driving force behind Friendster is the theory of six degrees of separation, the idea that everyone on the planet is connected through a few steps of acquaintances.
For the first couple of weeks, I was overwhelmed that I could be connected to a total stranger on the other side of the globe. I became obsessed, sifting through thousands of profiles from people all over the world to see if I could track down friends from kindergarten or elementary school or people with the same last name as I. I found no long lost relatives, but did find several friends, scattered across the country, that I hadn't seen or spoken to in ages. They put me on their "friend" lists and I put them on mine.
My friends in the Friendster community are 13 strong. Those people two degrees removed from me, my friends' friends, number 241; 5,352 people are only three degrees removed from me. Obviously, I have no idea who these people are, which has a way of making one feel small, even insignificant. On the other hand, it's also satisfying, in a Hallmark kind of way, to know we are all connected, even if only by a goofy website. But as I browsed through the endless connections, moving farther and farther away from myself and my friends and into a sea of strangers, I could only think of one thing: SEX.
Despite my charming personality and (cough) intoxicating sex appeal, I've never slept around. I have managed to convince three women to sleep with me over a brief sexual career that, admittedly, would be longer and more prolific had I not been "such a good friend" to the objects of my lust between the ages of 13 and 20. Fortunately, at this point, the same woman has kept me around for two-and-a-half years and I couldn't be happier. If it sounds like I'm trying to convince myself, I'm not-I'd rather take my chances sucking the unspeakable filth off a dollar bill than go home with a stranger every night. I'm a firm believer in the idea that when you sleep with someone, you're sleeping with every person that's come before you. It's an idea that puts things in perspective when you find yourself drunkenly fumbling quarters into a men's room condom machine and thinking, "why bother?"
Though my partners have been limited, I find myself part of a beehive-like network of sexual relationships that connects me, through a series of one-night stands, longer relationships and drunken roommate sex, to every one of my closest friends. I discussed this with my girlfriend who, like me, found herself in need of a Friendster fix, and she had a brilliant idea: a website called Sexster that, much like Friendster, would allow you to see where you've "been." With a little start-up cash and full disclosure from sexually active people the world over, we could provide a real public service, saving untold numbers of people from ending up just another notch on someone's bedpost. And think of the benefits: besides being a humorous if somewhat disturbing way to pass the time, you could track down the possible origin of a painful rash or burning sensation, or even see if you're connected to the celebrity whose rhyming name spawned a six-degrees-of-separation game: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Should a connection to Bacon or any of your other "co-stars" make you shudder or swear off alcohol or quit trying to get back at your parents, you could always take comfort in the fact that the farther removed one is from the initial coupling, the act of intercourse can technically be downgraded to a simple kiss or an innocent hand job.
Aside from being the greatest social experiment in history, Sexster could revolutionize the way we look at sex and dating, creating a more health-conscious sexual environment and an atmosphere of openness that promotes not just the exchange of fluids but of ideas, or even love. All it would take is complete honesty and an open mind to see what wonderful or horrible truths await you along your endless chain of coital conquests. Whether you've had one partner or 100, members of the Sexster community wouldn't judge. After all, we're all in this together.