No I am not old enough to have given advice to Jane Austen about courtship rituals and no I am not on the hunt for a Steve replacement. I have however been privy to the antics of an internet dater recently so my account is well and truly third hand and as such open to all manner of corrections - please feel free to go your hardest.
Gone are the days of quiet courting with the requisite chaperone in full day light. Gone are the days of some young buck putting on his best shirt and fronting up to the Father and asking permission to 'step out' with the daughter. Gone are the days of long languid letters written on flash cards and embossed paper, penned in inky careful script, talking of love in metaphors and occasional somewhat risqué references to the possibility of perhaps at some point in the future, holding hands. Yeh I know it's all so old fashioned and sort of blurry and hazy and the palest of pale pink.
Today it's all, passwords, logins, and check messages. It's possible to scroll through a gizzilion pictures of possible suitors and click on the dozen or so that catch your eye and fire off some trite bit of a hello and hope for a response. Most of them are just rubbish and you have to develop quite the eye for fraudsters and dickheads and old men dressed up as youngsters or occasionally women.
And then through the mist a connection can be forged.
A second message, less formal than the first, or perhaps more open and honest, or a bit more personal or quirky, is opened, and an exchange begins.
Usually there is quite an online chat before any MIP (I think that is meet in person, or meet in public, or measure it's penis or something like that), and so you might think there is quite the Austen parallel with correspondence. But nowadays there is a little thing called SKYPE and instead of long chatty letters or abbreviated self corrected text messages, you just dial up and sit in front of your camera and chat away over a coffee, but in the safety of your own home.
Long before you actually get a sniff of their scent or feel the roughness of their hands, you know their dress sense and tone of voice and whether or not they keep a tidy house and are punctual. You know if they can carry on a conversation unprompted and if you are Skyping long enough I guess you find out a bit about their bladder control and sleeping habits.
This seems like an excellent plan! No danger! No need to get girlfriends to call you up with a pretend emergency to get you out of an horrendous first date disaster!
All sorts of important issues can be addressed in the comfort of your own lounge room and if you think it's all going pear shaped you can just not answer the Skype and ignore the messages, but if it's going well then you both can make a plan.
This too can be part of the dating ritual and if it goes off well, then the only thing left to be tested is that difficult to quantify attraction which relies on - who the fuck am I trying to kid? I have no idea what it relies on, except that we all know if it's there.
It seems so much smarted than downing a dozen voddies and sticking your tongue down the first throat you see. It seems so much smarted than trying to gauge the quality of mate by what's in their Woolies trolley, or how many pull-up-lat-dangles they can do at the gym.
I reckon this internet dating thing might just be the way to go. Good luck!
Have you Skyped a stranger?
When was the last time you wrote a love letter?