The interwebz: the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. Oh wait, that’s alcohol. Oh well, the two of them intersect for me so often that both statements are probably true (don’t drink and Facebook, kids). For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to use ‘online’ to refer to all manner of modern communication: text, email, Facebook, Tinder, Twitter, all kinds of dating sites, etc. If I can do it from my iPhone and not a landline, it falls under that umbrella.
I am a big fan of technology, and I live a lot of my life online (clearly). Between work, home, entertainment, and communication, the only time I’m not plugged in is when I’m asleep – and the first thing I reach for in the morning is my iPhone. This has led me to do some thinking about the nature of connecting with people in this brave new world: so much of our interaction happens a step removed, whether it be through texting, Facebook, or judging people’s potential partner qualities through six pictures or a carefully-crafted profile meant to showcase how awesome we are. It might be making us crazy.
When we talk to friends and family, basically anyone we know and who knows us well, we accept what they say at face value. Not a lot of thought goes into what we say or how we say it, we’re just ourselves. However, as soon as you add a dash of romantic potential or interest, everything becomes a potential land mine. He said this on Facebook, what does it mean? She texted me without a smileyface emoji, I’m going to throw myself off a bridge now. The overanalyzing, reading into things, and stressing about what to say (or not say) in response can be overwhelming.
Back in my university days (ugh, I’m an old), we didn’t have the so-called benefit of all this shit to help us
obsess figure out what the other person was thinking. We still overanalyzed every interaction, but with all of those interactions taking place in person, there was a lot less to sort through in terms of quantity, and a lot more to work with in terms of quality. Here’s the thing: I don’t know if this excess information is actually helping us.
Even when the interaction is positive, the rapport is great and there is a lot of witty repartee, it’s still exhausting to feel like you’re ‘on’ all the time. There’s no break, where you get to just be a schlub in your jammy jams, zoning out and watching 10 hours of Breaking Bad (also known as ‘Saturday night’). Now you have to flirt, converse, and impress (albeit you can still rock your pj’s and watch Walter and Jesse fuck shit up) all the time. It’s like a multi-process job interview: first you have to get through the online/text/whatever audition, then maybe you’ll get a callback for a live date. Except it never stops.
I’m not saying this as someone who plans to withdraw from this whole system. I’m mired in the oversharing quicksand as much as the next nutbar (hello, I write a dating blog). I’m as much to blame as anyone else; I have extremely high standards when it comes to ‘modern communication’ and dating. Bad texting can totally throw a wrench into a potential dating scenario, while the ability to have a solid conversation via the interwebz or text is enough to send my geeky little heart aflutter.
So what’s the solution? Where do we find the balance between modern interaction and sane behaviour? Is the idea of ‘sane behaviour’ even applicable when it comes to dating? Perhaps not, but at least there’s wine: