It starts classically enough. Boy meets girl. Girl is charmed my boy. Boy is smitten with girl. They exchange numbers. Girl goes home and replays the meet-cute moment in her head (meet-cute being film-buff speak for the moment boy and girl have a charming serendipitous meeting in a romcom), and then proceeds to relay the meet-cute to best friend, without sparing any miniscule detail; from the way he smiled to his shoes, to his approximate height, to the way he said “See you soon”. (Was it in an anticipative way, or casually? Did he say it with a smile? What kind of smile? Genuine and sweet or, brief and polite?)
However, here comes the crunch that comes with this generation’s “meet-cutes”. After we relay the details of the meeting to our best friend- though impressed- is cautious. “Okay let’s not get too excited until we search him. We need to be extra sure, before we start planning outfit strategy.” Now, she does not mean an airport style frisk- that would be creepy and quite inappropriate. No, with your backing, she whips out her laptop, and types his name into a search bar, and within a fraction of a second, to our glee, we are soon faced with oodles of juicy information about our latest romantic pursuit. Facebook, twitter, Tumblr…. the internet is fantastic for finding out if the guy we are interested has a blog dedicated to stuffed animals and whether we should consequently cancel any impending dates with him.
In other words, the internet as the potential and power to transform our Prince Charming to a frog. How so? Well within seconds we are questioning the girl with her cleavage as her profile picture writing on his wall “Looking forward to Saturday babes xxx ” , his bio- “i dnt read no books” and his latest tweet about how he just met this “Piff ting with an ass to make a grown man cry on the tube.” The “Piff ting” being you of course. Ribbet. Our Prince Akeem has just transformed into a slimey amphibian.
On the flip-side of course, we could also use the internet for background research prior a date. He’s into Lord of Rings? We’re ordering a box-set, and sitting through a middle-earth trilogy full of mythical creatures, so on the date we can awe him with our fluency in Elvish. We go through his pictures, subduing our inner voice admonishing us with “you complete psycho stalker” , by telling ourselves we’re doing it so by the time the date rolls on by we are so desensitised to his looks we can talk and think with clarity in the face of his utter hotness. As a hardcore romantic and also somebody who is kind of guilty of the above, I am ashamed and saddened over this state of affairs. Curiosity and the Internet may just be partners in crime in the murder of romance.
A large part of romance-particularly in the beginning- is the intrigue and mystery. You’re eager to know what they’re about…what makes them tick. Getting to know someone you are interested in, can be such a fun journey however. When we want to go on a date we want to be awed by them- their looks, their personality- all over again. However when we already know everything from their favourite food to where they went to University, part of the anticipation (arguably the best bit of a first date) is dampened. Likewise, if we’re only pretending to be knowledgable about something they’re interested in, we’re not being ourselves and we’re also cheating ourselves out of a good interesting date. Why don’t we let them have the opportunity to educate us and tell us what they like, rather than Google?
We should also not forget the internet can be a skewed place to get to know someone anyway. What we’re faced with can essentially be a set of dry information, unsubstantiated because you don’t really know the person in person. Yes they may have a blog dedicated to the love of stuffed animals, but he may be doing it for his little cousin (or something. Still struggling to validate). The point is, it is unfair to judge somebody you haven’t got to know in person, or haven’t spoken to enough to get to know them.
It’s a hard ask, especially in 2012, but why don’t we all try a new form of “Blind dating?” Going into a date with no background research of a cyber-kind (we’re allowed to ask our friends. A girl can only restrain herself so much after all.) Let’s get the intrigue and enigma back into romance. It’s scary, but what is romance without a nice healthy dose of sheer fear of the unknown? That’s what is exciting about it right?
As a hope(ful) romantic and a social network addict,I know how hard it’s going to be..but it may also be rewarding. In addition to this, if we don’t cyber stalk potential courters, we are totally minimising the risk of saying “Game of Thrones is my favourite book too”, and enduring the excruciating moment that follows his bemused and freaked out, “Um. I never mentioned my favourite book…” Awkward.