Social networking is now a way of life and sites like Facebook have revolutionized the very dynamics of inter-personal relationships. But the craze to connect with people online now seems to have touched a new absurd level with apps like Bangwithfriends which can prove disastrous to the whole concept of romance and seduction. So if you are planning to use this app to fill up a lonely evening, it may be worth considering what impact could it have on your love life.
What is the hoopla about?
BangWithFriends is a new Facebook app that claims to help users 'anonymously find friends who are down for the night' by pairing up any that are both attracted to each other. The app apparently does this by showing users of Facebook which of their online friends are prepared to meet up for no-strings attached sexual encounters. The app is invented by a group of California college guys – who interestingly have chosen to remain anonymous – and till January 2013, around 2,500 people had signed up to use the new app.
TIP: Match.com has many singles from North America and Europe looking for dates. Browse photo profiles, filter by zip code and meet someone this weekend.
How does it work?
When a user logs into the Bangwithfriends, the app shows a screen filled with the profile pictures of their Facebook friends of the opposite sex. Beneath each of the profiles listed sits a button labelled 'Down to Bang' which a user can click to indicate that he/she is sexually interested in the friend in question. Once a user clicks on this button, its label switches to 'Awaiting Bang' but the app does not immediately notify the profile of the user’s interest. Unless, that is, the profiles too are users of the app and have also clicked the button beneath the face of the user too. If that happens, then the app sends a notification email to the address listed on the user’s Facebook account informing that he/she has a match.
Why is it a bad idea?
The major drawback of Bangwithfriends is that it reduces trivializes sex and completely divorces it from love and romance. Despite contemporary society being more relaxed and non-judgmental than ever, on matters of sex, there is still something to be said in favour of taking it slow. For one, the best sex is when you really know your partner. The physical connection that is the main part of the sexual act feels all the more wonderful and satisfying when it is preceded by an emotional give and take. The first part of the word lovemaking after all is love and with good reason too. Despite popular culture treating sex in a highly casual way, the experience signals the connection between two people on the deepest and most intimate level. Thus for sex to be truly meaningful two people should know each other and ideally be in love with one another. Apps like Bangwithfriends do away with any possibility of love and romance in such online equations – it reduces sex to the scratching of an itch, to the level of picking up a milk carton off a supermarket shelf, provided the carton wants to be picked up by you as well; or at best it is a hornier version of playing Words with Friends wherein playing Words is simply replaced by Banging.
No thrill of seduction
Even if one wishes to discount the emotional aspect of lovemaking, Bangwithfriends is hardly the right way to get maximum sexual pleasure. An essential aspect of sexual satisfaction has to do with anticipation which is why ways and means of seduction have been an integral part of traditional treatises on sex. Books like Kamasutra, Ars Amatoria and The Perfumed Garden have devoted considerable number of pages on how to woo and seduce a partner so that when sexual intercourse takes place, the pleasure is multiplied several times over. The play of meaningful glances, ambiguous hints and slow seduction in fact work as a long drawn foreplay which in turn heightens the thrill and fulfilment of the sexual episode. The in your face method of hooking up that apps like Bangwithfriends bring in have no place for long sensual seduction and thus make sex a short, tawdry and cheap affair, with neither any emotional connection to give it depth nor any sensual finesse to raise it to the heights of ecstasy.
Health hazards of casual sex
The kind of casual sex that Bangwithfriends proposes in fact leaves one exposed to many dangers, not the least of which are health related. If you are a woman, it might saddle you with an unplanned pregnancy and if you are a man, you may find yourself responsible for one. Even if there is an option to get an abortion, the physical and emotional trauma that one has to go through is just not worth the momentary high of rebound sex. Much more serious is the possibility of casual sex exposing you to the risk of AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases since you are completely ignorant of the sexual history of your rebound partner. It is much better to be on your own or invest some time in a relationship than risk your health and well-being for some temporary thrills.
Is it even required?
Even within the context of contemporary online networking, Bangwithfriends is an anomaly. Facebook is primarily a social networking site and not a hookup or even a dating site. At Facebook members can put up personal profiles, share photos, videos, chat with others, add other users as ‘friends’ and exchange messages. Apart from this Facebook is a popular way to get to know people from around the world based on common interests and views through special-interest groups and pages. If you are looking for partners interested in no-string-attached sex, it would make more sense to browse through casual dating sites or adult hook-up sites. Partly the grossness of "Bangwithfriends" is the way it conceives of friendship as something you only do to get some casual sex. And for those who still think of Facebook as their own personals site, there is already Poke - if a user gets Poked by a random friend, it’s the latter’s digital way of expressing interest in getting to know the user better.
How discrete is it?
Even if you have no problem with the emotional and physical consequences of the kind of casual sex facilitated through BangwithFriends, consider whether you would like this aspect of yourself to be revealed across the social networking site. The app claims to 'anonymously' discover which of your friends are up for sexual liaisons. However, doubt has been cast over how confidential Bangwithfriends really is; Like other Facebook apps, when users sign up to the service it shows a screen asking them if they are sure, but also showing which of their friends are already using the app. This could be a major cause of embarrassment for users of Bangwithfriends since it reveals to the entire social networking site that they are game for casual sex.
Yet another glitch seems to be that once users have indicated they are 'Down to Bang' a friend, there appears to be no way to revoke it - the button no longer works once it has switched to 'Awaiting Bang'. Finally even while supposedly catering to current practical concept of casual relationships and hook-ups, the app appears to be designed exclusively for heterosexual pairings.
Notions of love and relationship are not set in stone; as living ideas, they are constantly changing and influencing other socio-cultural concepts in their turn. Similarly ideas on what sex means and how it should be are all the time engaged with various cultural, media and technological constructs of society. Bangwithfriends is an example of this and only time will tell of what impact it will truly have on sex and relationships.