Today, I want you to take a little trip back in time to when I was in college -- way back in the '90s. At the beginning of my sophomore year, a guy walked into Dante's (my cool campus job) and after a malt, cheesy popcorn and lots of witty banter, I was crushin' pretty hard. The problem was that I only knew his name and a little about him. So I did what every other lady did back then: I used Nancy Drew-like sleuthing skills and got to work. It took about two weeks, but I discovered which dorm he lived in, his major, that he was on swim team and a few other small details. I also found out, with a little help from Lady Luck, that he had a long-time girlfriend at another school. Although I was slightly bummed, it was fun to have a little crush, talk about it with my friends and keep my skills sharp in case the CIA ever came a-knockin'.
Fast forward to now. If I had met him today, within 10 minutes I would've known all the above info, including details like the fact that "The Hangover" is his favorite movie, that he's into indie rock and has a love for old school rap, that he has no interest in politics but loves roller coasters, Taco Bell and Megan Fox. I would've also seen pics of his friends (kinda dorky), his family dog (cute) as well as what could be his current or ex-girlfriend (boo). If I'd tried to dig deeper, I could've discovered that he's a regular on gaming sites and loves to debate the evils of mainstream music and record companies. Plus, it's easy to find nearly seven different ways to contact him. Without ever talking to him, I could've followed his daily life and let the crush bloom into full-blown smitten.
This is where we buy the ticket for the "crazy train."
I'm the first to admit that I'm little addicted to Facebook. I've also joked that I'm dating my Mac, judging by the amount of time I spend with it. But I wonder if this constant availability is really helping us when it comes to dating. Knowing everything about a person -- without having more than a 20 minute conversation with him or her -- allows our minds to judge (I don't want to date a gamer) or create unrealistic expectations and hopes for someone we barely know (he loves dogs... I love dogs!). Then, when we don't get that text, call, email or instant message, we're devastated, and it does a number on our self-esteem.
Technology has completely changed the way we communicate -- and not necessarily for the better. The bigger downside is that singles, new and old, have been left to figure it all out. Yay for you!
But technology doesn't have to ruin your love life. Here are three ways to keep it under control:
1. If you can't say it face-to-face, don't text, email, IM or Facebook it. Many times, we choose technology as a way to express our deepest feelings because it creates a wall of safety. Not having to see the other person's reaction allows us to feel that rejection won't hurt as much. However, we're losing out on the 60 percent of our communication that happens through body language. As a result, we take away only our perspective of the "conversation," which leads to a lot of miscommunication and hurt.
Just remember, before you send anything to your crush, make sure that it is something that you could look him or her in the eye and say. Otherwise, save it until you can.
2. Wait to become a "friend." I was very offended when a guy that I had gone on a few dates with didn't accept my friend request. Hello! We were making out! The least he could do is pretend to like me on Facebook. Once the kissing stopped and we became real friends, I asked him about it and he said that it is too easy to judge and jump to conclusions from someone's profile and photos. He wanted the people he dated to get to know him -- not just what he seemed like on his profile. Smart words.
Extra bonus: it keeps cyberstalking to a minimum and you off the crazy train.
3. Find time to put away the technology. Seriously. Texting is a severely flawed method of communication. You end up spending 80 percent of your time asking your friends, "What do you think that means?" Overanalzying a text message will only drive you crazy. Besides, when you're constantly talking, texting, listening to your iPod, and working on your laptop, you are missing the real life connections that start great relationships. How can you notice that smile or give someone the "OK" for an approach if you are too busy playing Angry Birds?
In short, it is okay to love your technology. Just don't use your technology for love.
Follow Kira Sabin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kirasabin