Monday, April 16, 2012

Jeff, One Lonely Guy, by Jeff Ragsdale, David Shields, and Michael Logan

Jeff was reeling from a bad break up, living Manhattan, and feeling completely isolated.  In a desperate effort to reach out to mankind, he posted fliers with his phone number, asking people to call and talk to him.  Calls started pouring in, as photos of the flier went viral all over the internet.  He recounts some of the striking phone and text conversations he had as a result of this experiment.

When I heard of this little social experiment, I was fascinated.  I thought that this was an incredible social experiment, as one man attempted to connect with real people while living in a society obsessed with virtual communication.  I was incredibly disappointed for so many reasons.

First off, I found the set up of the book to be clunky.  The conversations Jeff has do not seemed to be organized in any sensible fashion, other than a random word from one conversation would be also found in the next conversation, and by random I mean something as meaningless as the word "cornflakes".  This means there is no flow to the content of the book. It makes it really hard to read, and although it is separated into chapters, there still is no sense to the order of the conversations.

For someone who claimed to be reaching out to connect with society, it seems as though most of the conversations are with lonely women, and are about sex.  Which makes me think this was just a way for Jeff to get his jollies, have free phone sex, and sext with strangers.  A few of the women mention Jeff having sent them explicit pictures, and elude to the fact that he is engaging in explicit conversations.  I find this really troubling.  I feel like he is preying on lonely women with low self esteem, and calling it art.  I just was really turned off.  Maybe he had deep meaningful conversations, conversations that were life changing for both him and the person on the other end.  But mostly, the conversations in the book are about sex.  It was kind of gross actually.

Finally, a quick internet search reveals that Jeff Ragsdale has done some questionable things in the past, media stunts fooling The New York Times, landing himself on various tv shows, "protesting" in New York just to get in the spotlight.  I highly suspect that this is just another stunt, an attempt to lengthen his 15 minutes of fame, and doubt that some of these conversations actually happened.  If he posted his real number, I am sure he got lots of calls, but I am not sure he was lusted after by strange women as the book portrays.

All in all, I really cannot recommend this book for any reason other than boredom and idle curiosity.  But I warn you, it is kind of gross, and for me it was a huge let down.

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