Monday, November 18

how technology is changing the way we date

And I thought the time of MIRC was rough. That awful year in 1999 when I'd wait for dial-up internet connection (we all knew the sound it made by heart) and join these chat rooms with weird names like "blue flower" and ask people "asl" because that was the "new" language, the internet language --asl standing for "age, sex, location" in case you forgot.

It was supposed to be cool. I remember I was 13, but always pretended I was 16, because that's how old the girls were in that movie "Clueless" and those girl were super cool.

But in those days --it was the easy stuff. Nothing like 2013. I can't even count the number of methods you have for tracking someone down now... Monitor their whereabouts, through Facebook pictures and trip-advisor reviews. Read what they read from what they share on twitter or their newsfeed. Listen to the same music through Spotify and FB, of course (basically with Facebook you can do everything but appear on their screen and jump them...)  But not just that... You can actually tell the number of hours they waste in the day by tracking their "last seen on" update on whatsapp. Now how creepy is that?

So, to sum it up --not only are you supposed to watch your behavior when you're out on a date or on the occasional phone call, but you also have to watch yourself when you're talking to friends on Whatsapp (what if you don't want him to know you're awake? No seriously?) or when you're liking something because FB will record the exact time you did it (why? who cares if I liked it a 1:46PM?)... And you now have to make sure every picture everyone has ever taken of you looks amazing because you never know what will end up on Facebook... It's just so much to think about! I mean, there was this guy who liked every Instagram picture anyone I knew ever posted, and we all thought "boy this guy has a lot of time on his hands" --so yeah, I'd say people notice and judge you for your social-network behavior too. Funny, no?

What is crazier? The other day I got a Facebook inbox-message from a guy I was newly seeing and imagine my surprise when at the top of that message, there appeared a message I wrote, wait for it... on March 27th 2007, at 8:22pm --basically when I was 22 years old and still living in Manhattan, I apparently had wrote him a message that went unanswered. Did I remember ever writing that? No. Did he remember ever reading it? No! Yet Facebook did a great job reminding us, and sort of helping him get points 6 years later... Do you know how embarrassing it is to re-read something you wrote 6 years ago?

But then there are the good thing about all this technology. Like how easier it makes it for my two friends who are crazy about each other but living in different countries --at least, they have Viber. And Skype. And Facetime. They can send each other videos and audio-notes on Whatsapp. They can somehow manage to share their days with each other, as much as technology permits them to.

In 1949, my grandparents met at a summer hotel in Lebanon. But after the summer, my grandfather returned to Cairo and my grandmother to Beirut. For seven years, they exchanged letters. Sometimes, they would go months without any news from each other. Months. Not minutes or hours like we count them now. They had to wait for the mailman. How amazing is that? If my grandmother was here now, I'd love to ask her how she thinks all this technology would have affected her long-distance relationship with my grandfather.

Of course, whether we like it or not, it's happening. This new way of dating, of connecting with other human beings, there is nothing we can do to change it. Yet I feel lucky I had the chance of knowing a bit of both worlds. I'll have to remind myself to write my children letters one day, so they get to experience it too.

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