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200461102-001Everything changes. Times change. Fashions change. But love? That’s supposed to be eternal, right? How we love, our courting rituals and mating dances, well, that’s just as fickle as last season’s hemline.

Case and point; recently, an unnamed NBA player (come on, y’all know who I’m talking about) called off his wedding just days before the nuptials by email. Ladies, I have heard it all. Besides being colder than a polar bear’s toenail, this one act of technological cowardice got me reflecting on all the ways technology has changed the rules of romance.

First, I should confess that I’m about as modern as a cotton gin. I’d prefer to think of myself as technologically “defiant,” but technologically “impaired,” would probably be more accurate. Whatever you want to call my stubborn need to cling to bygone days of rotary dials, the fact remains that I don’t own a television. Further, I was the last human being, with the exception of my slightly senior/clueless daddy (sorry, papa), to actually purchase a cellphone. Know what else I don’t have? Microwave, iPhone, iPod, Wii, automatic coffeemaker, Blackberry, gps, hands-free or big-screen anything. Friends accuse me of living like a cavewoman, but it’s more like living on Little House on the Prairie, except I don’t churn my own butter. Really. Land-O-Lakes spreadable for this modern girl!

Alright, where were we? Right. Digital relationships. How did I meander onto dairy? Like I was saying, I’ve been thinking back on my early days as a carefree singletini, when technology didn’t have a ninja grip on L’amour, and I’m realizing that I’ve become super nostalgic. Granted, I’m cherry-picking my little trip down memory lane, since no clear-thinking woman would want to go back to the good old days when men were men and women were powerless, servile, sex-objects. However, I do sometimes yearn for those long-forgotten/underappreciated aspects of chivalry. You know, the part where the girl gets to feel like she’s the “stuff”? I’m talking about the REAL days of courting, the-guy-sitting-in-your-parlor-talking-to-your-daddy-about-his-“intentions” days. Not the modern version of chivalry, where dude wants a medal for opening a car door.

Truth be told, I wasn’t around for horse n’ buggy courtship, either. But, I am old enough to remember when men would actually have to sweat a sister! They actually had to PICK UP A TELEPHONE and call you for a date, instead of just sending out some non-committal text to see “what’s poppin’?” These days, there’s no risk of rejection, no getting nervous. There’s practically no cardiovascular element to flirtation left. Sure, it’s nice to get a sweet text from your honey, full of exes and ohs, but as I observe modern romance, it seems that digital missives are often just ten different shades of LAME, substituting for rather than adding to real human connection.

Granted, in this age of Facebook/Twitter, there’s no getting around the realities of cyberspace communiqués. And, for all the lip service I pay to my distaste for everything modern, I wouldn’t want to give up the perks of contemporary corresponding entirely. How great is it to be able to send pictures to your boo when he’s out of town, showing him a good view of the new stilettos you’re going to model for him upon his return? And, how great for our troops overseas? To be in Afghanistan, inside some cramped, dust-covered tent, and still be able to send/receive video from home? That kind of beautifully human use of technology is so profoundly intimate and touching.

But, be real, the great majority of us aren’t using technology to send messages to some bunker in Uzbekistan, we’re using it to text back and forth to our boo who is at his boy’s house….. getting his wig smoked. And, there’s nothing wrong with that, except it plays right into the hands of the commitment-phobic gentlemen out there who were already predisposed to evading human intimacy from jump!

Yes, technology has given them the perfect out, the perfect excuse to literally…phone it in. And because everyone’s doing it (using technology) it’s not so easy to distinguish between the cyber-LOVER and the cyber-LAZY. Is he sending that text because he sincerely misses you and wants to brighten your day, or is it to keep you off his back? To deepen the connection, or to avoid conflict, conversation and having to make the “effort” to maintain a relationship?

A lot of the time I can’t call it, but my suspicion is that a WHOLE lot of the latter is happening, because I hear story after story of “little boys” using emails/texts to make dates, break dates, reschedule plans and apologize for things that definitely are worthy of a face-to-face. In fairness, I don’t know the details of the Richard Jefferson break-up (alright, alright, that’s the NBA player I was talking about). I’m sure he had his reasons for using email to call off his nuptials (something about “collecting his thoughts”). But, whatever the case, I hope that Jefferson’s faux pas/public humiliation wasn’t in vain, but serves as a “teaching moment” for all E-Males. Modern men need to know – at the very least, HELLOS (date request) and GOODBYES (break-up), should to be done in person.

Ladies, it’s time to let digital Romeo know about this technological half-stepping mess. If you’re sick of the kind-of-but-not-really-asking-for-a-date IM’s. If you’ve had it up to your perfectly groomed eyebrows with not being able to feel the love through the prophylactic of “virtual” intimacy, then tell the E-Males that sometimes a text just isn‘t enough! Sometimes a phone call isn’t going to cut it, either. Sometimes, that mouse-potato is going to have to actually STEP TO YOU, just to prove that you’re worth the effort.

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