This article is about electronic dating, but even more so about the meaning of identity. What could this have to do with Frankenstein, Stalin, the Internet and the search for the ideal partner?


Wikipedia. Org writes quote: “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is an 1818 novel written by Mary Shelley at the age of nineteen, first published anonymously in London, but more often known by the revised third edition of 1831 under her own name. It is a novel infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. The title refers to a scientist who learns how to reanimate flesh and creates a being in the likeness of man out of body parts taken from the dead. In modern popular culture, people have tended to refer to Frankenstein's monster as "Frankenstein" (especially in films since 1930). It was also a warning against the "over-reaching" of modern man and the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel's subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. Unquote”

Well stated. Human beings seem to have the inherent tendency to shape the world according to their wishes, and, more often, desires. And there remains the question, what identity is about, in the first place. Who are we, who are the others?

As always, there is a field of different opinions.

One of the most radical ideas expressed about identity is the one by Russia’s dictator Stalin. He came, some eighty years ago, to the conclusion that the individuum is the spot, “where certain qualities and influences come together.” It meant that human beings could be generated and molded at will – to create the ideal communist cross-bread. Great stuff. Accordingly, he had military vehicles built for the standard, average soldiers. There was no button to shift the seat.

In one year, there was a shortage of food in the country. It motivated the dictator to kill the (excess) folks, who couldn’t be fed.

The other extreme is the ideal of the loner, fully in control of him- or herself, a integrated cosmos of mind, wishes, beliefs, only responsible to himself, and far away from the rest of the world. Some kind of egomaniac Howard Hughes, I presume.

I believe there are at least three levels of identity:

1. The so-called physical identity, documented by passport, identity card, fingerprint, driving license, eye color, body parameters.

2. An emotional identity – the outer world one is connected to – families, clans, husbands, wives, pets, parishes, political parties, sokker clubs etc. it could be compared to a ring of mushrooms – sticking out off the ground alone, but connected by rootlets in the topsoil.

3. A spiritual level. Affinities here are difficult to define, and may transcend our current notion of time and space.

Not surprisingly, human beings have come up with different concepts of happiness. On one hand lies the happiness of the loner, who’s in control of everything. This option is centered on physical definition and prowess. The other extreme exemplifies the happiness of giving up and becoming member of a larger entity, which saves precious mental brainpower, and lets emotions run wild. The focus here is the emotional identity.

Others again give up the physical realm and dwell in spiritual spheres. Those bums have chosen to focus on a spiritual identity.

Assuming we don’t get spiritually ballistic or indulge in perfect loneliness, one wishes to have a partner. But how to find the right one? Electronic dating suggests that one should tie up with a large database, and combine the elements of desire according to one’s past experiences of happiness. This means assembling elements and aspects of long-gone temporary happiness into something new and hopefully rewarding – kind of a Hollywood remake, or a virtual Frankenstein-creation exercise. It’s also a looking-backwards approach, that blocks possibilities of a genuine new experience. If one is focussed on past experiences, how will he or she find out what life has got to offer? It also means distilling “the ideal” partner personality from complex realities – often by ignoring such vital elements as family, and emotional identity.

In brief, electronic dating is a mix of Stalin, Frankenstein, and other approaches.

Could internet dating be a useful exercise? Perhaps, but all depending on one's attitudes. The more general, the better, given we can't be sure what lurks behind the next corner, and which human mirror is shining back to us with love and happiness.

Most likely, the conventional outcome may show up like this:

Winner - winner - winner! Congratulations! Push the orange button and you’re going to date your Ms. or Mr. sexy nobody.

© 2008 by Franz L Kessler