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People Top 5
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- April 08, 1996
- Vol. 45
- No. 14
Picks and Pans Main: Bytes
FEASTING FROM AFAR
Some appetizing Internet sites have sprung up lately, giving new meaning to the term "pull-down menu." The largest is the Diners' Grapevine, offering menus from more than 6,000 restaurants in the U.S. and 800 overseas, plus photos of many dining rooms. "The idea was to let consumers visit any restaurant without setting foot inside," says cofounder Jim Gurfein. A marketing veteran, Gurfein cooked up the service with former Good Morning America producer (and former Mr. Joan Lunden) Michael Krauss. Grapevine (http://www.dinersgrapevine.com) can search for a dining spot by cuisine, atmosphere, price range or zip code. Eateries can update menus daily. But the project had sour beginnings. "I'd recently divorced and started dating again, and I was in a three-restaurant rut," recalls New Yorker Krauss, 51. "I'd ask Jimmy, 'Where do I eat?' " Deadpans Gurfein: "He called every night. It got boring."
While Grapevine is free to consumers, restaurants pay $850 a year, plus $15 a day to update menus. That adds up to a lot of clams.
LOVE AT FIRST BYTE
For her first novel, E-Mail: A Love Story (Donald I. Fine Books), the tale of a middle-aged married woman looking for love online, Stephanie Fletcher, 47, drew on her two years as an unofficial counselor to the cyberlovelorn on the Prodigy service. Trained as a psychiatric nurse, the Charlotte, N.C., writer became privy to the experiences of scores of people who had online romances. Says Fletcher: "People would be stunned at how emotionally involved these relationships are."
Who is having these cyberaffairs?
There's a big group of married baby boomers. When we look at ourselves in the mirror in our 40s, we wonder, "Am I still sexy?" Some women get facelifts; men get sports cars. Online infatuations can be another antidote.
Do they generally work out?
From my research, only about one in four online relationships turns out happy. People get into this bodice-ripper mentality in the beginning. But after you've had "sex" with somebody in the virtual way, there's a real desire to actually be intimate. When the two do meet, the relationship can't handle the reality. Either the affair ends or it destroys their marriages.
Are cyberaffairs really adultery?
Most people don't understand how these could threaten a real marriage, if it's a healthy one. But they can be as dangerous to an unhappy marriage as a conventional affair that is purely physical. Affairs [in the virtual world] often progress quickly to the point where they're considerably more intimate than a one-night stand. Are they adultery? As a writer, I think it's a gray area. It's something that lawyers and men and women of the cloth need to decide.
- Samantha Miller,
- Dylan Jones.
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