Writing in The Atlantic Cities about the decline of the Big Apple’s lesbian bar scene, Michael Ruiz muses for 365 words before he gets to this part:

And, of course, the Internet has changed the social scene for everyone.

 “Lesbian culture has tended to be organized around dense social networks of friends rather than the bar scene, so there have always been fewer lesbian bars than gay male bars in general,” says Lauren J. Joseph, a Pennsylvania State University sociologist whose areas of study include gender and sexuality. “Before the Internet, I would argue that women patronized the Manhattan bars because that was where they could find other lesbians to date or to socialize with.”

 Now, Joseph says, “women do not need to go to the bar to meet other women.”

 With forums for communication now accessible from anywhere with WiFi, lesbian bar patrons can go wherever they want.

Yes, yes, and yes. As someone who met my spouse online, I am certainly personally sympathetic to this perspective on the issue, but more importantly this is in many ways a cousin to the lesson in efficiency of capital I was getting at with my post on AirBNB. When you look at “the lesbian bar scene” as a thing unto itself, you can see it grow and worry over its decline. But when you look at “lesbian bars” as a means to an end – introducing lesbians to other lesbians in an age when information that would identify lesbians is difficult to come by – what you see is that lesbian bars are simply becoming obsolete. Some people really, genuinely like going to loud, dark, dank bars and paying exorbitant prices for bad drinks so they can be drunk enough to awkwardly chat with strangers. But lots and lots of other people only participated in that ritual because it was the lowest-cost way of meeting eligible strangers, because cost isn’t just about money but also about time and information. But now the internet has drastically reduced the cost of meeting eligible strangers! Hooray!

Now think about the land market in NYC. Land in Manhattan and Brooklyn is really, really scarce and therefore really, really valuable. In an age where the only way for lesbians to meet other lesbians was essentially to pay rents to bar owners, then there was some market equilibrium where some amount of scarce NYC land was used for lesbian bars. But the introduction of extremely compelling competition to “lesbian bars” as a category has drastically reduced to the point of obviation the need for any scarce NYC land to be distributed to lesbian bars.

And this is all a really, really good thing. It means lesbians (like everyone else) are being introduced to a wider selection of potential partners in a more informative and comprehensive matter at a vastly lower cost. It means that, increasingly, the American alcohol market is focusing more on higher-end, unique, “craft”-ier booze that people would like to drink at home rather than commodity booze that people drink in bars. And it means that scarce land in major metropolitan areas is being used more efficiently. The thing of it is, none of this may show up, per se, in GDP – you could easily imagine a world where the net amount spend on alcohol is the same, it’s just better, and net employment is the same, it just shifts from “bartenders at hook-up joints” to “servers at restaurants,” and nothing in GDP picks up marital bliss. But overall human welfare is substantially higher. This is why GDP is a bad proxy for “human happiness,” “human welfare,” and “utility” and, to get really deep into it, one of many reasons I’m skeptical of “The Great Stagnation.” More to the point, though, any time the Internet destroys an existing business model, it’s almost always for the better.

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