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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Go ahead, label me”

    Sam Feldmancolumnist
    Sam Feldman
    columnist is to the Internet what swap meets are to real life, except Craigslist has everything you will ever need, including sex. One man traded up everything from a red paper clip all the way to a house in just 14 trades on the site. In the most idealistic sense, it’s a community-building Web site. And now I’m looking to the Craigslist community to find a building of my own.

    For the first time in my life, I am going to have to choose my roommates and have them choose me without knowing them. I have lived in the dorms, in my own apartment and with a high school friend, but never have I had to sell my personality and behavior to someone and evaluate, on the spot, a person’s personality.ÿ

    If you delve into the listings on Craigslist to search for somewhere to live, I recommend going with an open mind and a good pair of latex gloves. There is little oversight, and the quality of options ranges from Posh Spice to Scary Spice.ÿ

    Most listings I have read contained bland characteristics a person was looking for in a roommate. One said, “”I am a graduate student, looking for someone fun to be around but also quiet and clean when needed.”” Snooze.ÿ

    Others mention something about the current

    If you delve into the listings on Craigslist to search for somewhere to live, I recommend going with an open mind and a good pair of latex gloves. There is little oversight, and the quality of options ranges from Posh Spice to Scary Spice.

    situation, one saying, “”There are never any loud parties and the room is very nice.”” Doesn’t everyone say that?

    But other posters to this deliciously anonymous site have their minds set on specific characteristics they are looking for in a person: female roommates only, students or young professionals only, nonsmoker only.ÿ

    One poster, I’m guessing a woman, admits up front there are things you should know about her. For one, she has germ issues. Two, she says she is unsocial and likes it that way. Three, she is not a whore.ÿ

    But she continues, with gusto, into a tirade about what behavior she expects you to have.ÿ

    She says, “”If you are a whore, please arrange for your visitors to wear nametags when they are not in your bedroom. When I wake up and there is a strange man/woman in the kitchen making pancakes … I’d like to at least know his/her first name.””ÿ

    Though this is an extreme example, we all find comfort in labels we fit into easily or hope others do: male, female, whore, not whore, gay, straight, student, clean, quiet, fun.

    It seems reasonable that we would ask for characteristics so specifically. One way to get to know someone, especially online and quickly, is to show a person just enough about ourselves so the good roommate will gravitate toward the ad.ÿ

    One ad was even brazen enough to ask for a female roommate or a gay man. I understand comfort is a key concern when choosing a new roommate – but are women and gay men really the same type of roommate? Do those terms define us?ÿ

    When I visited the place that will be my crib for the next year, immediately I knew the gender, body type, race and approximate age of the people I will be living with. As they showed me the house, we chatted briefly about our own labels. I found out they are working students, along with their majors, sexualities and some other common labels we use. I told them I am gay, to the relief of my future female roommate, and also a few other labels I use for myself.ÿ

    But I still stood there, waiting for a glance into the future of our relationship. I am about to commit to a year of living with you people, I was thinking, and I know very little about you. How will I know if this is the right situation?ÿ

    The labels we use are not the people we are. Two people search for housing: the first is a gay university student who enjoys going out to the bars on Fridays and Saturdays;ÿthe second is a Jewish student majoring in political science and Spanish who works full time.ÿ

    Both, if you haven’t noticed, are ways I could describe myself, but each gives off a different flavor. Each label we assign ourselves creates a distinction and separation that needn’t exist – is there an inherent difference in how a 20-year-old comports himself and how a university student behaves? Not if each is drunk.ÿ

    Each label we wear – proudly, I hope – should contribute to just some small picture of the whole that each of us is. They should never create the picture in its entirety. Labels may lubricate a difficult situation, but one must begin to see past, if not above, those labels.

    Underneath is a lot more interesting anyway.

    Sam Feldman is a junior majoring in Spanish and political science. He can be reached at

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