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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Holiday Card You Don’t Want To Get

Posted by on December 27 at 12:45 PM

I was at a Christmas party over the weekend and, perhaps confirming Seattlest’s worst fears about Slog writers, ended up in a long, drunken debate about this new gay health phenomenon.

It’s a free e-card service that allows a person to anonymously inform his or her sex partners that they’ve been exposed to an STD.


There’s no reason this should be an exclusively gay thing (so calm down, Seattlest), but given the gay community’s love of technology and its high rates of STD transmission, it’s not surprising this service has taken hold among the gays first.

The debate at the holiday party was not whether these e-cards would be abused by pranksters. Reuters reports that in San Francisco, “only half of 1 percent” of the cards sent through that city’s site have been pranks. The controversy was whether this new technology was giving people a pass on being grownups—allowing them to dodge normal human communication, rather than encouraging them to talk openly with each other about STDs and their feelings about passing them around.

As my friend Brad put it in an email:

Is this how we want to disseminate that information? Just because the program works, should we encourage more cities to adopt it and more poor communicators to continue communicating poorly? Do we run the risk of further alienating our community members from these community outreach organizations that are already effectively providing health services, with less psychological toil and better communication?

Short of one-on-one counseling for all gay men, safe sex counselors should be promoting good communication with our sex partners, and these eCards are antithetical to that process.

I agree with Brad that using these cards is a copout on adult communication. But I also am a bit cynical about the ability of people—gay or straight—to always act like grownups when it comes to sex. And I think that if the greater good of increased testing and reduced STD transmission is accomplished through this program, then it’s worth allowing cowardly communicators to remain cowardly communicators.

But what do you think, Slog readers? (Not about Seattlest calling you gay, although feel free to weigh in on that too. I mean about the e-cards.)

CommentsRSS icon

the "screwed" card is ridiculous.

So, the alternatives then are:

  1. Allowing some poor communicators to cop out by sending anonymous e-cards to their maybe-STD-infected partners, or...

  2. Allowing some poor communicators to cop out by saying nothing at all to their maybe-STD-infected partners.

hmmm. Let me think about this...

Shouldn't the cards indicate which STD it is? There's no reason to give someone a heart attack when it's just Chlamydia. Tests for some STDs, like Hepatitis and Herpes, are really expensive. Is someone who receives one of these things supposed to spend hundreds of dollars to find out what he or she has?

people who are mature enough to talk to their partner in person about stds would never use one of these cards... so yes, i do think that it's good that they exist for the cowards.

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