Thanks to the relentless advancement of modern technology, we live in a world where everything is instant and readily available and in a society that celebrates a simpler, better, faster existence, it's hard not to take things for granted. The rapid pace of information technology means that we've grown accustomed to getting what we want when we want it. Anything your heart desires is just a simple click away: designer labels, timeshares, special holiday packages, even the possibility of finding your true "Soulmate69" can be accessed online in the comfort of your own home. Let's face it, we're all linked in one way or another.
While the rest of South Africa was going Gaga at Computicket for its dismal attempt at an online queuing system, Brenda and I were exploring another kind of virtual reality. For the first time in her life, Brenda was single and willing to venture into all kinds of dating avenues. In a few short months, she had tried everything from speed dating and social networking to the occasional blind hook-up, each one more unsuccessful than the last. As she slowly exhausted her options, she decided to optimize her search towards something a little more unconventional. It was not long before she found herself entering a domain where so many fear to tread. Oh yes, Brenda was about to embrace the vast and expansive world of online dating.
Sam was no stranger to virtual encounters although her needs were quite different to Brenda's. She had hoped that her words of wisdom would ease some of the stigma associated with online dating. "It's just like online shopping, babe. Just type in what want, hit search, add to basket and check out". Was it really that easy? The answer was yes. It only took one click before Brenda was faced with hundreds and thousands of pop-up profiles, all waiting for a chance to be "Undiscovered" or perhaps "perfect4U". Was the convenience of online dating what made it so appealing? Height, eye colour, photographs, dick size, food preferences, what's he's looking for in a partner, what he's into...you can get them in any size and colour you want thanks to the wealth of information available at your fingertips. And if the basic information is not enough for you, the internet provides expanded profile options for a more detailed look into your subject's physical, financial, psychological and emotional status. Think of all that precious time saved trying to figure someone out when the computer can do it for you? Have service providers finally found a way that caters for our incessant need for easy and instant access? Whether it's sex, long-term relationships, activity partners or even just friends, online dating seems to have a solution for everyone.
While I was no stranger to internet dating, there was only one boy that made a lasting impression. His name was Ian and I'll always know him as the one that got away. We had been chatting online for weeks before we finally decided to meet outside our virtual co-existence. We met for cosmo's at the Metropole one Friday night and I was almost certain the date had been a complete disaster. Despite the head start of things to talk about on a first date, there was no sign of that instant spark. I felt a glitch coming on. Was the spark not included? Did it cost extra? I was convinced that our union would never last beyond our online connection but somehow we managed to stick it out for a month and a while, perhaps to give the spark some time. As our realities began to merge, I thought it was time for him to meet my friends, a reality that he was not prepared for. My friends in those days were understandably way too much for someone of his maturity - a lesson I learned later in life as I out-grew them myself. This fault in the system caused our relationship to malfunction and fizzle away somewhere deep into cyberspace.
The benefits of online dating seem to work well with today's socially awkward youth. Some of us are down to our last resort and have no choice in the matter while others find the prospect of pre-ordering compatibility morally repugnant. It's apparent that chance meetings and instant sparks are becoming less and less. Had they become as obsolete as VHS? The more I thought about the virtual influence of online connectivity, the more I wondered whether internet relations would one day completely replace intimate ones. Have the days where actual boy meets girl in bar gone by? A call instead of a ping or status update? Has the new age of information technology finally overshadowed the conventional methods of dating and romance or is it simply a catalyst for surviving the instant nature of the 21st century?
When it comes to dating, I couldn't help but wonder, should we abandon old school mentality and just get with the times?