The Internets is killing your game. Behold, the following romantic scenarios:
Dating, five years ago
Boy meets girl. Boy waits the requisite 3 days to call girl (which even though the girl knows, still drives her nuts) and a date ensues. They discuss work, what they did that week, and what they’re up to the following weekend while on said date. Date ends (however it ends) and, should there have been a spark, the relationship progresses as it should; either they continue to talk, hang out, and eventually date, or perhaps it wasn’t a love connection and they remove themselves from each other’s lives. (Perhaps) Happily Ever After, (Perhaps) Not, but no harm, no foul. The End.
Now, fast forward to today.
Boy meets girl. Actually, he doesn’t really meet her; instead, he finds her on Facebook or follows her on Twitter or favorites her photos on Flickr. By the time he meets her in person, there’s no need for extensive emails back and forth since he already knows she loves sushi and hates pizza, so choosing a restaurant close to her house (he also knows this from her Brightkite check-ins) is easy. Dinner conversation is strained – who needs to talk anyway? Twitter already told him that she had a crappy day at work and she’s well aware of his weekend plans to go surfing, so instead they fill the time by chugging their microbrews and end up going back to her house because really, it’s easier to make out than it is to have a non-electronic conversation. Texting and direct Twitter messaging ensue if they’re interested; eventually, the outcome is the same – they date if there’s a connection beyond the fact that they’re both avid Mac users and Digg fans, but if not, c’est la vie. That is, until she sees via Twitter that he’s flirting with some other girl and he gets her Dodgeball check-ins to discover that she’s at the movies with that guy he never liked anyway. Then he de-friends her on Dodgeball, and in retaliation she blocks him from Twitter and what once could have faded out gracefully ends in a electronically communicated clusterfuck for the ages, Facebook broken heart and all.
I exaggerate – only slightly – but does anybody besides me realize that we’re entering into precarious, uncharted territory that abolishes anonymity even if you do your best to control what YOU put out into the ether of the Internets? You may not be broadcasting your actions, but your friend’s Qik cam may be outing your secret rendezvous with your ex. That bit o’ gossip you IMd your friend in confidence is fast-tracking it way to three other pals, because – let’s face it – nothing but face-to-face communication (and sometimes not even that) is considered sacred. We’re turning into a Don’t Ask, Just Tell society that’s affecting both our friendships and our romantic relationships at a startling pace. And I, for one, am sick of the unintentional pain that is being caused by it all.
That doesn’t even factor in the paranoia – why is your crush dedicating “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to that girl on Facebook? What does that cryptic Twitter mean – your two friends seem to be @-ing each other a ton…is something going on? It’s so easy to jump to conclusions when nobody TALKS TO EACH OTHER ANYMORE and the de facto standard has become ungrounded assumptions. True, the rise of electronic communication has increased productivity and international business and all that nonsense, but it’s also put a HUGE crimp in our game. I’m not suggesting we return to the days of dance cards or even do something so inane as following a set of Rules, but there’s something to be said for the phrase “Less is more.” A little mystery goes a long way, and I, for one, think that the best accoutrement to my Poppy Jasper is some witty banter and sparkling conversation – with our iPhones turned OFF.