Let me share a secret with you about social networks: They're all about dating.
Or more accurately, they're all about meeting people... that you might consider dating under the right circumstances. Don't get me wrong, that spouse/significant other/LTR of yours did not join the local astronomy meetup because they're planning to stray with a comely stargazer. But the communities of affinity people seek out and join often provide that exact mix of commonality, newness and distraction that makes for a good first date. I used to manage a website with a heavy dating component, so I know of what I speak. (Want a piece of free dating advice culled from my years of electronic match-making? Don't ever go on a first date with anyone that involves being stuck across a table with them for two hours. It's a date, not a Cold War-era summit meeting with Communist Russia. Go to a gallery or take a walk or something, already.)
But the ease with which connections of affinity become the levers of love is why online communities and soft-focus adult education programs often refer to their subscribers and students as "stealth daters." It's why Whole Foods is a pickup joint. After all, what's the first thing you suggest to a friend having a hard time on the dating scene? "Why don't you go to the Learning Annex and take a class in blank? You love blank! And there will be lots of other blankers there!"
Morning Edition's Ben Bergman just found a highly Californian example of this phenomenon: Green speed dating.
For people who are extremely passionate about the environment, finding low-impact love can be tough.
A Los Angeles Web site recently tried to help find a solution, organizing what it billed as the first "green" speed-dating event.
Sixteen or so singles from across Los Angeles descended on a bar near the beach last month in search of a carbon-neutral connection.
Green might not be your style, what about a wine tasting? Do the people in Ben's segment remind you of friends and relatives who are always on the hunt for new ways to cull the herd of potential mates? (Or drum more mates up, as the case may be.) Have you ever re-purposed a social network into a dating tool? Let us know!