We just love to love

Valentine’s Day is coming soon. And you know what that means, don’t you? It’s Dean Gaffney’s 35th birthday! I know, I can’t believe it either!

Oh, and there’ll be romance and flowers and Westlife ballads and what-not on the go too. The impending arrival of Valentineses got me thinking about the notion of romantic love: has it changed much over the last few years, in this online age?

The internet has altered the world in all sorts of ways. Once upon a time if you wanted to access pornography of a graphic and usually German nature, you had to put on a sleazy trench-coat, shuffle into a shop of ill-repute with an ironically cutesy name like Princess Imelda’s Apothecary of Earthly Delights, and fork over 10 bob for a copy of Der Grossen Sadomasokkkism Frauleinz XXX. Or so I’ve been told.

Nowadays they virtually give the stuff away free with supermarket loyalty tokens. Is this an improvement? Almost certainly not. Unless your trench-coat is in the wash.

Likewise, the internet has changed how people meet prospective partners. Once upon a time there used to be this thing called “dating”.

Here’s how it worked: someone would ask someone else out on a “date”, meaning a pre-arranged meeting at a restaurant, cinema or similar, with the express intention of a romantic engagement. The question would be put through a formal structure known as “having a conversation”, during which two human beings shared physical proximity and exchanged sentences composed of words and syntax, and delivered via the communications medium technically termed “your mouth”.

If the people on this “date” liked each other, they might finish the evening with a coffee/kiss/drunken scrape on a fire escape ladder, and arrange to meet for another “date”. If they really liked each other, they would generally continue meeting on a somewhat regular basis, leading to a set of circumstances in which they would be said to be “dating”.

Then they’d do the Vince Barnes a few times, get married, knock out a few kids and stew in simmering hostility towards each other for the next 60 years or so. Ah, love – ain’t it grand?

Now, though, dating seems to have gone the way of the dodo. For one thing, nobody talks to nobody in person anymore, so you can’t have that aforementioned conversation. It’s all texting and Skyping and the Twitter and the Facebook and I don’t know what it all means.

Literally: I don’t know what any of those words mean. Is Skyping the evil computer that destroys mankind in the Terminator movies?

Anyway, I can’t imagine trying to ask someone out via text. I’m picturing it going something like this:

“U wan go out” “OK where” “Drink R movie wevs” “Nah MAD hungover never again!!! LOL” “Wot bout movie den” “Seen all D gud 1s” “Sorry don’t undrstand wot U Mean” “Seen em all nuting gd out” “Yeah but date with me tho” “Date is Jan 29 why U ask” “No asking U” “asking me wot” “oh for fcks sake” “Wots Ur prblem” “This is a message from Vodafone, you are out of credit. Text 55555 for a two euro top-up”.

And so on and so forth. Or try asking someone out on Twitter: you’d have to compress all that pent-up emotion and heart-wracking longing into 140 characters, and then before the other person could answer someone else would see it on their timeline and join in the conversation, and before you know it, there’d be 15 of you getting pointlessly annoyed at something stupid said by some lame-ass American politician who has nothing to do with any of your lives. Which you are now wasting by getting worked up about him.

But it’s all moot anyway because as far as I can tell – from reading hysterical newspaper articles written by middle-aged creeps with an unhealthy interest in the sexual doings of young people – nobody under 30 dates anymore. They don’t date regularly, they don’t even go on single dates and skip the traditional kiss and coffee, moving straight onto the drunken scrape on a fire escape ladder.

Today’s young people apparently just “hook up” with each other. This seems to involve: posting a picture of yourself naked on Tumblr or some junk; having Biblical relations with a large watermelon, an uncorked bottle of Riesling and two randomers you met at the bus stop; joining one of those “find a SEX partner in your area TONIGHT!!” type websites that keep spamming me when I’m semi-illegally downloading bit torrents of movies; and then texting whoever you last slept with and whose number is near the top of your “dialled” list.

“Hey U wanna do biz 2nite?” “Yeah that’d be gr- This is a message from Vodafone, you are out of credit. Text 55555 for a two euro top-up.”

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