Having driven over 2000 miles so far on our first annual “International Fall Road Trip” Emily and I have had plenty of time to come up with weird topics of conversation. Especially while driving through Missouri and Indiana late at night.
One such discussion centered around how modernity has affected dating relationships. Needless to say, there was a lot to talk about…a lot of it well worth sharing with you.
For the purposes of this post, though, I’m going to limit the scope to technical advances of the last 25 years or so. There’s no doubt that wondrous inventions like the automobile, motion pictures and heck, deodorant, have done wonders for the dating fortunes of millions. But geez, if you go back that far “dating” as we commonly know it didn’t even exist (although beer did). Nevertheless, I’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
1) The Internet
Yes, this is a pretty major one. And you knew I was going to go here first, as well I should.
Online dating has given millions their single best chance at replicating the sheer bonanza of smorgasbord-like dating options not seen since high school or college. Better still, since most people are flat-out clueless about how to make it work for them, never has “knowledge is power” held more meaning.
But there’s more to the ‘Net than Match.com, of course.
Obviously, it can prove extremely insightful to “Google” someone you’re thinking about dating.
And how nice is it to have everything going on in town this weekend at your fingertips when planning dates?
Moreover, let’s not overlook how easy it is to get solid advice on how to better succeed with MOTOS (members of the opposite sex). Where would X & Y Communications, for example, be without the Internet? Probably still behind a cubicle at some IT company and selling med supplies to nursing homes, that’s where.
The Downside: Facebook “relationship status”. Navigating the politics of when to hide one’s profile. Getting “Googled”.
If you’re a single guy, your ride’s just got to have nav. I don’t care if you get a relatively cheap Garmin gadget off of Ebay.
Yeah, having a talking map in your car is killer. Never mind that. The issue at hand here is purely a practical one.
The simple truth is that getting lost on a date (let alone driving to pick her up) can KILL your mojo almost as fast as bad breath.
Which reminds me…did those cool “breath strips” make this list? They probably should have.
The Downside: There are no excuses for getting lost and/or being late…unless, of course, you don’t have GPS.
3) Mobile Phones/Texting
How has the cell phone revolutionized relationships between men and women? The ways are too numerous to count, so let’s go with some of the less obvious ones.
For starters, there’s no more “waiting by the phone” for clingy, desperate types…at least not literally.
Next, you can test and validate someone’s number when he or she gives it to you right there on the spot.
And when used correctly, texting is nothing short of God’s gift to sexually charged flirtation (and informing someone that you’ll be 5 minutes late).
The Downside: The death of long-distance telephone service as we knew it 15 years ago has unfortunately made it breathtakingly easy to fall into the long-distance relationship trap.
As for texting, do I really have to rant for the 1000th time about how many perfectly good relationships have been reduced to smoldering rubble by a simple attempt at a real two-way conversation over text that should have happened over the phone, if not in person?
4) Out-Of-Band Signaling
This is a good one, if only because hardly anyone has really stopped to think about it.
When I was back in high school in the early ’80s we all spent as much time on the phone with each other as kids today spend on the phone, IM and Facebook combined.
That meant that if there was someone you wanted to talk to around 7 or 8 at night, the line was almost invariably busy.
I distinctly remember dialing “0″ for an operator and requesting an “emergency breakthrough” on whoever’s line I wanted to get through to.
The operator would then cut in on the “busy” conversation between the girl I wanted to call and whomever she was talking to and drop the info that I was “urgently” trying to reach her.
Why was all this complexity aimed at a decidedly uncertain outcome so necessary?
Because we didn’t have “Caller ID” or “call waiting”, that’s why.
I mean think about it…when was the last time you actually dialed “0″ and talked to a live operator? Does that job description even still exist?
The Downside: Without the operator as a “go-between”, you just can’t tell people to “go away and never call this number again” and blame it on your Mom the next morning in school. We’re all way, way too accessible nowadays. There’s nowhere to hide.
5) Better Cosmetics And Over-The-Counter Remedies
Emily and I like to watch old movies from the 60s and 70s. Man, people looked like crap back then…and at an early age, no less.
Given that even Hollywood makeup artists of that era couldn’t work the miracles that readily-available modern acne meds and moisturizers (etc.) can, there’s really no wonder that it seems like everyone “looks good for their age”…even if they’re 20 years old.
Granted, looks aren’t all that matters when creating attraction. But isn’t it nice to know that you can do even better with what you’ve got then people used to be able to?
The Downside: With all the modern ways to looks good, it unfortunately takes a steady stream of knowledge and a significant amount of $$$ to keep a level playing field with everyone else.
There are countless other examples that could be added to this list, I’m sure. And my edumckayted guess is that you’re about to inform me of all the ones I’ve forgotten in the comment space below.
For example, have you stopped to consider how the internationalization of cuisine has made cooking for someone and/or dining out so much more interesting? Seriously, it wasn’t that long ago that Chinese and Italian were probably your only choices.
In fact, I still have an old BMX magazine from 1984 that makes fun of Japanese people for eating “raw fish”. Around that same time a Chi-Chi’s restaurant opened in Baltimore where I grew up–the first “Mexican” restaurant in the city.
I think there may have been on Thai place in town also, but most people were scared to try it. I took my prom date there and we both thought it was “high class” and “exotic”…while being pleasantly surprised by how really, really, good it was.
How about cable television, the VCR…and more recently, Netflix?
The advent of newer homes being built with bigger, better kitchens and master baths has made a difference, too.
You could even come up with a solid argument for dual-zone climate control.
What are your observations?