As if we needed another sign of the apocalypse.
Sugar Sugar is a new entrant into the online dating scene with a twist: it specifically caters to those in search of a Sugar Daddy/Sugar Baby (or Sugar Mommy, we suppose) sort of relationship. While the site appears to have been around for a bit more than a year, we received press materials indicating that it came out of “beta” in December with more than 100,000 participants.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why its mere existence bothers me so much.
Some may appreciate this service as an opportunity to be upfront and honest when searching for your preferred type of companionship online. To me, the whole thing seems rather base.
The Internet has democratized things like publishing, retail, and entertainment. Anyone can spew stupid opinions for the world to potentially see (like these misguided fools). Most anyone can open a national storefront merely by utilizing Amazon or Etsy or eBay. And to get into the broadcasting game via podcasting or with short films, all you need is some recording equipment and Internet access. One thing to keep in mind: being able to do it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily good (again, look at our publishing example).
Now, SugarSugar is stepping up and potentially democratizing a relationship model that once had to be earned the hard way. Showy men with show-off money and beautiful women with show-off looks; those are the classic Sugar Daddy/Sugar Baby archetypes.
Now just sign up, post a picture and an alias, lie a little, and thousands of gold diggers (eight women for every man, says SugarSugar) will potentially be throwing themselves at equally vapid guys who may or may not have the money they claim to, but certainly don’t know what to do with it.
Truism: If you have a fortune and can’t find a willing gold digger that’s up to your standards, the Internet’s not going to solve your problems. Same goes for someone fancying herself a sugar baby who doesn’t know how to meet the men of resources—you probably aren’t cut out for the role.
For those desperate to make a meaningful connection, “regular” dating sites are an understandable avenue to pursue. After all, the search for the one true love, or something approximating a give-and-take, potentially lifelong relationship, eludes many. The criteria in finding such goes beyond pocketbook, bank account, how someone looks in a swim suit, and similar. Those are part of the relationship mix, for sure, there’s no denying it.
But where’s the meaning in what SugarSugar promises aside from “I get money/I get status/ego/sex/eye candy?” Not much. From its own marketing copy:
“SugarSugar.com is for generous men looking to spoil, and dynamic women looking for financial support with bills, or who just need some excitement in life!”
And note the classic appeal to the women’s emotions and the men’s pragmatism in the following:
“Women: never worry about money again!
Men: join the only dating site where women outnumber you by 8-to-1. “
Turns the stomach a bit, no? Is it because they are exposing an ugly truth I don’t want to see, or because they’re so blatant in appealing to the lowest common denominator?
I suppose the romantic in me wants to believe that relationships are pursued for meaningful reasons. Of course, in real life people meet and arrangements happen, sure. Here and there, it doesn’t bother me as much. This attempt to facilitate Sugar-type relationships on a vast scale just seems out of balance.
“Why should what other people are doing bother you?”
I don’t know. But it can’t be just me that feels oogie about this.
It seems people are ashamed to have their name associated with it. Online alias accounts I understand, sure. But if there are 100,000 participants, why would SugarSugar have only 17 Facebook followers and 80 followers on Twitter? Even Osmosis Online’s meager Twitter stream has (barely) more followers. eHarmony’s Twitter presence has more than 4,000 followers (again, I know this is hardly scientific, but just as a point of comparison).
I registered for a free account under an alias, which allowed me to do a search of potential Sugar Babies in my area. It found “95,285 Sugar Babies in California” alone when I searched. These people are online, and aware of this service they supposedly use. Why wouldn’t they follow the Twitter account, which dishes advice for those seeking sugar relationships? Are you telling me that out of 95,000 people, only 17 are on Facebook and can be bothered to click “like”?
It’s partly lack of focused online marketing, to be sure, but 80 Twitter followers represents virtually nil of the supposed active client base. Just a guess: people may not want to be publically associated with it.
Money Money Money
The trial membership for SugarSugar is $3.95 for three days; the one-month charge is $24.95 for sugar babies and $29.95 for sugar daddies (that extra five bucks is because they are rich, remember). Three-month subscriptions are also respectively $49.95 and $59.95 (of course, for the menfolk, the real costs are to come later if the spirit of the hook-up is maintained).
Again, as a point of comparison, match.com’s basic, one-month subscription is about $30, while eHarmony is about $60 for one month (various packages committing to longer memberships can mitigate costs).
I’m not exactly sure how to parse this, but paying at least for the possibility of true love seems aspirational (even if wishful thinking) rather than wasteful. Paying to hook up a Sugar relationship reeks of the worst of a spoiled, materialistic society.
When occurring naturally in the urban wild, such a relationship doesn’t bother in the least. But a Web site facilitating this on a wide scale via the Web just takes it into a less-palatable area.
Be clear, I have no desire to see the site shut down or anything resembling regulation of relationships. Freedom is freedom, and that’s a good thing. It’s the ease with which the Internet enables the reduction of a relationship to its economic parts that depresses the hell out of the idealist in me.
(Of course, SugarSugar has nothing on these guys.)