Invite for A Bite is a new social networking website where women can find other ladies in their area to go out for lunch, so they don’t have to endure the “embarrassment” of eating alone.
First of all… Who’s embarrassed? As a woman, I thoroughly enjoy my lunch dates with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good lunch date with the girls but I get equal satisfaction of dining alone.
The benefits of eating alone almost outnumber eating with friends: I don’t have to worry about whether or not there will be something on the menu my friend can eat; I don’t have to constantly entertain my date nor do I have to worry about proper eating/socializing etiquette. Not that I’m a slob but talking while dining can get messy and extend the eating process by at least a half hour. Eating alone removes the talking bit so I can get to chowing down faster.
Secondly, the number one flaw I see with this site is like internet dating sites, there’s no instant gratification. You have to create a profile, plan when you want to go eat, then read through numerous profiles to find a gal pal who fits your specs. Once you’ve decided on your new female friend the site suggest that you give your new BFFL (Best Friend for Lunch) a ring and chat for a bit (you know, so you can figure out whether or not she’s a complete loon). THEN you get to the chowing down part. This process is way to long for my grumbling stomach.
Finally, what is to stop this from turning into a dating site, or a really creepy stalking site? After years of using the internet we should all know by now that the first rule of the internet is not to trust the internet.
Website founder Cressida Howard explains her motivation for making the site unisex:
“As soon as you introduce the idea of men and women meeting for meals, it becomes almost impossible to distinguish it from a dating site. No matter how many times you explained that it wasn’t, common sense dictates that it would be treated as such by some people.”
I still believe that even though the site has banned one sex from being able to search for their BFFL, there is still a very high possibility of turning Invite for a Bite into a dating site.
On The Other Hand
The major benefit of this website is the ability to go from an online social network to offline networking, which is key to creating lasting bonds (or as I like to call it, “networking like a pro”). This could also be a great tool for new transplants to an area or women who have focused on one aspect of their life for too long (career, kids, men, etc) and have now found themselves with few girl friends.
An Introduction to Social Psychology By Miles Hewstone, Klaus Jonas, Wolfgang Stroebe, tells us that being part of a social network is “vital to both our mental and physical health.” Yet becoming a victim of internet stalking can quickly negate those beneficial effects.
While this site could end up being the next great social networking site for women, I’d give it a few months before rushing to put up my profile. For those ladies who are looking to network for lunch in Charleston ASAP, there are some great established lunch groups who meet all around the holy city. Like Susan Lucas’ group Let’s Do Lunch or check out any dining group focused around your interests on Meetup.com.