I was born in 1979 and grew I up in the 80s and 90s. I remember the days before everyone had a cellphone. To have a private conversation you needed to have a kitchen phone with a cord on it long enough to make it into the bathroom. Even then you were hoping not to hear that dreadful click of your mom or the other person’s mom picking up the other line and listening in.
I have always been a technologist long before that was a term. I had a pager in high school BEFORE they came with voicemail. For all you youngsters out there it was the first texting. A small 1 line device that only showed numbers. At 16 I had to teach my parents how to page me to get a hold of me, I had to carry a pocket full of quarters and find a payphone when they would send me a 911 when I was out past curfew. My girlfriend would page me a 143 (I Love You) before she went to sleep. This is not much different than teenagers texting today.
My internet was dial-up in the beginning and eventually high speed and when we weren’t downloading wave files (before MP3s) we were chatting online. I was there in the AOL chat rooms calling out for A/S/L? ( Age, Sex, Location). Chatting it up in the room to get someone to send me instant messages. Again not much different than Tinder or POF today.
I was the first one of my friends to get a cell phone and one of the first ones to get an smart phone. Blackberry, then eventually Android. I loved the false sense of connection. It was a security blanket for myself and anyone that wanted to get a hold of me I was a phone call or an eventual text message away.
Not much has changed between the late 90s and today. We now have in our pockets when we had in the office in the 90s from a social connection and dating standpoint .
I have a unique perspective in that I remember what it was to not have the this interconnected world and I embraced this world early. I appreciate both perspectives and I am glad to have experienced both. The same fears people have about meeting people from the internet people had about being setup on a blind date prior to the internet. “What if I meet a weirdo? ” and “There are so many crazy people out there!” are not a new phrases.
The technology brings on more connections which makes many of us picky and complacent. I feel that in the time before the internet meeting people was more difficult. People then were forced to be out and be more social. When you met someone of interest, because it was rare or at least less common, you took the time to get to know them and went on a few dates before you lost interest and stopped talking to them. Ghosting is a new term but not a new behavior. 🙂 Even in the days of AOL the boy meets girl method of dating was still the path you took because most people were not on the internet. It was viewed as a tool not as a way of life as it is today.
Today, everyone is connected and you don’t need to leave your house to interact with someone. Just pull out your phone and start chatting. When some fact or piece of information does not align simply move onto the next candidate. This is great to avoid wasting time on someone that isn’t going to be a match. The rules have changed because culture has changed. Everyone is connected and I mean everyone. I was the weirdo with a pager when I was a teenager today teenager exchange snapchat accounts like we passed notes.
This is where many people get frustrated, especially from mine and previous generations and throw their hands in the air, disable the app for a week or 2 then come back. You can’t apply the old methodologies to dating today. You will stress yourself out in a week or two.
Frank: It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Frank: No, the worst.
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
The boy meets girl scenario doesn’t work the same way anymore. The people born to this era don’t get frustrated because they understand it better than many people from my generation. In the beginning I did suffer so much frustration trying to apply the boy meets girl method today.
So how do we fix it? We need to redefine it or have a different approach. I refuse to adopt the complete nonchalant complacent attitude about dating that I see from people today. If you don’t know what I mean its the ‘I don’t Care” or uninterested attitude. You shouldn’t blame these people. They are exhausted from the unending meaningless connections found online and the endless texters that follow. Endless texting is the art of texting someone for months when they have no interest in actually meeting. They are numb from all of it.
So what in my approach did I change to prevent my dating exhaustion? My perception or at the very least my approach. When you meet someone online you are not actually meeting someone. I have joked in the past that these apps are somewhat like online speed dating but I am starting to think that I am not that far off. Wait, I am getting ahead of myself.
Let us take a step backwards. When you connect with someone online we mistake that connection with ‘Boy Meets Girl’. Have we actually met anyone? NO. Sure, we talked to someone on the internet but we have not actually “met” anyone. You can continue to talk to that person and get to know them but remember, until you meet them, you are no more than flirtatious penpals.
Maybe I am just weird when I say this, but I really won’t know if I have a connection with someone until I have spent time with that person, in person. I need to see their mannerisms, quirks, tics and flaws. You can’t fall in love with a text message. I don’t want to spend months texting someone to find out if I am interested or not. If I can get around schedule conflicts I try my best to at least have a meet.
So to the frustrated amongst us, Stop playing boy meets girl until boy actually meets girl. Have conversations, and if you like this person, meet them. See if there is any validity to what you think you feel. Ask if they feel the same way. If you both do, then congratulations you successfully made it past boy meets girl. Just don’t get in any blimps on New Year’s Day.
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