Columns, Opinion

SONI: Technosexually frustrated: Dating in the digital age

Valentine’s Day sucks. I’m a romantic guy, and that’s perhaps why every 14th of February tends to be a disappointment. It usually ends up with me splayed out on my queen-sized bed drunk with a bottle of hand lotion in one hand and a Fleshlight in the other.

I’m kidding.

I didn’t have a date this Valentine’s Day, but that was quite OK with me. I’ve tried it all before &-&- bouquets, romantic dinners, romantic sex toys &-&- but you just can’t please these modern women. When the one thing that attracts girls the most is being ignored, there’s little room for chivalry.

In my narrow and romanticized notion of history, there was once a time when the game of love had rules. Perhaps you courted your potential belle at a dance, or a church, calling her house a few days later and telling her you’d like to pick her up at seven to go for dinner and a movie at the local drive-in. Perhaps your folks just fixed you up with a match.
Today, things aren’t so clear-cut. Sure, I’m psyched that I’m not destined for the confines of an arranged marriage, but I really do wish our generation had some guidance in choosing prospective mates.
One of the problems I see is that we have become inundated by modes of communication, modes that aim to increase interconnectedness but end up depersonalizing. Love, like everything else in this techno-driven world, is dependent on our ability to navigate and interpret a sea of information from a multiplicity of media.

This was the point I got from “He’s Just Not That Into You” (Yes, I watched it. And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it). At one point, Mary, a crestfallen thirtysomething played by Drew Barrymore, complains about her labors of love.

“I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work,” she rants, “so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry, and so I texted to his cell, and now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”

You said it, sister.

Technology can be very sensitive: An emoticonic mistake such as a 😮 face instead of a 😉 face can be the difference between getting laid and getting maced on any given night. Trust me, I speak from experience.
It’s kind of scary to think, but as more and more of our interactions are moved from the human sphere to the Internet, who’s to say dating won’t go with?

It was with this in mind that I decided to suppress my inner Luddite, go with the flow and sign up with an online matchmaker. I had read a news story about how the website BeautifulPeople.com had axed some of its members when they gained weight over the holiday season, and I figured being considered “beautiful” would be a nice ego-boosting entrance to the online dating community.

BeautifulPeople.com seemed great. It would immediately streamline my pool of prospective mates based on my two most important dating criteria: 1) no uggos and 2) no fatties. I would submit a photo, have it rated by the existing members for two days and finally be accepted by my fellow narcissists. No more buying ridiculously overpriced shots at bars, no more boring conversations with boring girls, no more painful introductions at lame concerts &- “It’s Dip-tesh! Dip, like salsa . . .” – all I’d have to do from now on was poke around the web, check out some pics and shoot out a message before I was on the fast track to getting the smoking hot girl of my dreams.

I gleefully opened my acceptance email from BeautifulPeople.com only to find out I had gotten a rating of 5.2 out of ten. Five-point-two!? Statistically, this made me one of the ugliest of the beautiful people &- a rank I was not willing to accept.

I closed my inbox in a rage, my ego bruised, and began scouring the site to see if these people were really as hot as they claimed. They weren’t. Most of the users were either Eurotrashy dudes who spent too much money at Darque Tan or insecure girls who felt the need to airbrush their MySpace pics.

It was a bust, but I should have seen it coming.

Love is a lot of things, but it ain’t easy. The digital age marks a revolutionary transition in the ways in which we connect to our fellow humans. Some of us are making this transition better than others, but no matter how many romantic comedies we watch, no matter how many personality-encapsulating profiles we create, the fact of the matter is that we’re on our own.

And that makes life exponentially harder for us romantics.
The extent to which we use new technological media to initiate human connections is a choice we make both personally and collectively. Technology has become a tool, perhaps a weapon, of love and we may either choose to master that tool or ignore it.

In other words, are you a technophobe, or a technosexual?

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