Did I mention this installation is fully interactive on a 56-inch touch screen? IWYWM is a beautiful collaboration of computer science, math, and art that uses data to evoke a viewers’ emotions at a very personal level.When I was in my early 20’s, my father told me that the best way to find what I was looking for was to write down all of the qualities I wanted in a partner. I still remember a few, because they’re qualities I continue to look for — creative, gets along with their family, down to earth, ambitious, has a “career” and not just a “job” (a very important distinction for a career-oriented gal like myself).A visit to the site reveals that hundreds of people are typing “I feel lonely” or “I am feeling alive” or “I feel better” into the void at any given hour on any given day.The viewer can also type in certain demographic, geographic and atmospheric specifications (26-year-old woman, Charlottesville, Virginia, partly cloudy), and the site then takes the emotional temperature of other people who match those specifications online in that moment of time.That said, until recently I had never explored the world of online dating.But one evening about a year ago, the bottle of red beside me was offering diminishing returns and before I knew it, I was scanning the faces on the sex and dating website Nerve.com, wondering if the fedora-wearing charmer from a television commercial I’d seen really existed.My mum insisted that I should date someone older than me, who was a little more ‘mature’ and ‘settled’. I had a habit of finding men who weren’t really all that keen on being in a relationship, which can be quite the hurdle when it comes to, well, being in a relationship with them. Interestingly, my parents haven't been resistant to the idea. I want someone who gets along with my family and plays with my hair when I'm sad.
How cool and mature was it that we were talking about this? But, of course, the same things that happened with every other man I’ve dated would happen with these men, too.But what I can say, is that in my experience, the biggest deal breakers have never been superficial. You'd think as a feminist I'd have rejected sexist ideals about what a good relationship should look like. But sometimes it feels as though the gender revolution hasn't quite managed to infiltrate heterosexual relationships. Two years earlier, I had been doing research for my column when I stumbled across a site called “We Feel Fine” that seamlessly married ideas of “website” and “art.” People can go to the site and type in a word that describes a human emotion—“lonely,” “volatile,” “exposed,” “alive,” “connected,” “safe,” “better”—and, in a matter of seconds, the site runs an algorithmic program that searches blogs and websites all over the world for phrases beginning with the words “I feel” or “I am feeling,” plus the word you just typed.Results then pop up on the screen indicating who else out there in the blogosphere, in the online world, is feeling—or has recently felt—what you were feeling in that moment.