Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Love Online

Dale at Faith in Honest Doubt commented on courting online vs. in person.

After confessing with evident embarrassment that he met his wife in an online dating forum, an unnamed party I'll call M* felt it necessary to declare "it's just as good as meeting someone in a bar." Well, it depends, doesn't it? What sort of bar are we talking about? And what sort of online dating forum? Bars tend to attract and coalesce around certain kinds of people -- there are biker bars, hipster bars, gay bars, swinger bars, sports bars, bars that serve as the barely-concealed entry points to brothels, and so on. Likewise, there are online match-making sites intended for widely various audiences, tastes, and self-descriptions. Is any bar hookup less unseemly than any online meetup? Really? I don't think so.

I met my second and third wives online, the former at a chatroom, the latter via her Yahoo personal ad. I agree with Dale that overall the experiences are similar, but there were a couple of novel aspects.

- The ability to contact someone far away. This was the big difference. While both my wives were relatively close, they were still well outside my local area,and in places I never visited. I can't imagine how I would have met either of them without the internet.

- My experiences being before easy online video/photos, the first contacts were literal; that is, expressed in writing. Physical proximity came later. This is about as different from a bar meeting (which is how I met my first wife, incidentally) as possible. None of the physical aspects of attraction applied (which was to my considerable advantage as a shifty-eyed nerd) . Perhaps I should amend that slightly; the physical aspects still had some effect,but not until later, when we actually met. By then a connection had been established, so the impact was lessened somewhat.

A gift of gab still had some use, but it had to be translated into text which, as any writer can tell you, is a completely different skill-set. On the other hand, you could preview what you say, which cut back on the stupidity quite a bit.

- The ease of communication, by e-mail,chatroom or instant messaging, meant there could be much more of it. It was also easier to manage than the telephone, in that you could "chat" while doing something else and not compromise either activity, as opposed to watching TV while talking on the telephone.

In general, for a guy like me it worked pretty well, although the fact that I needed to use it twice shows that it's not perfect. In other words, as Dale said, just like the old ways.

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