As a child growing up in the nineties my concept of dating was peppered with long phone calls and confessions shyly blurted out after school. Then I got a mobile, along came Facebook and traditional dating went out of the window.
Before if you met someone attractive you would have to speak to them, or risk never seeing them again. Now with limited information, such as a name, you can cyberstalk virtually anyone and track them down. Convenient? Yes. Creepy? More so.
Next comes courting which takes place on online messengers. Never again will you say the wrong thing, as you can think before you type. Sounds great until you take into consideration that at the same time you are talking to various other people and browsing the web. Hardly undivided attention!
The relationship is then made official by a request to make your Facebook status change from single to in a relationship. This does save time telling everyone, but it also takes away excitingly screaming the news to close friends and removes the awkwardly sweet “are we a couple?” conversation from existence.
As the dating progresses the online conversations grow longer and transfer to texts, where you lie in bed impatiently awaiting the next message. Until you fall asleep because the signal is bad and it takes ten minutes for each text to come through, leaving your partner believing they’ve said the wrong thing. No more phone calls talking about nothing for hours, in fact phones generally mean bad news and are dreaded rather then looked forward to. The dependence on text based conversations means that you have to search the deepest points of your mind to remember what your partner’s voice actually sounds like.
Finally – now this is the worse part – the break up. No more heartfelt letters, no more teary meet-ups leaving you with a bittersweet pain. No, now you’re lucky if the break up is a phone call. Dumping can take place with a nonchalant text, or, the worst offensive, changing the Facebook status back. You are left heartbroken with a bombardment of messages asking for gossip when all you want to do is cry in peace.
Then again how can you be sad when you spent most of your relationship flirting with a machine?
Don’t get me wrong. Social networks are great. They keep us in touch with far off friends and unite us in ways not possible before. Technology does have a place in finding people whom you may go on to date, but it has no place in romance. Others may disagree but I find it all impersonal and cold, the invention of the telephone moved communication forward, whilst the invention of text messaging moved it back.
I want to hear every expression of every word because we’ve all misread the meaning of texts at least once before. I want to see people face to face so I know they are genuinely listening to what I have to say. I want an old fashioned romance, chanced meetings and thoughtful sentiments, less space aged technology, more fate and, dare I say it, true love.
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Let’s step away from the machines and find real time for each other again.
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