Just as FedEx, UPS, and DHL can send a package across the country overnight,
CrazyBlindDate.com can set you up with a stranger in just a few hours -- when
you absolutely, positively have to be with someone right now.
Hey, if you can get a suit dry-cleaned in three hours, why not a first
Using technology in the search for true love is certainly nothing new: In
the 1899 hit song Hello Ma Baby, a young man entreats his lover to
"send me a kiss by wire" and begs, "Oh baby, telephone, and tell me
I'm your own."
In 1965, when computers were still hulking monstrosities programmed by punch
cards, a group of Harvard students, including future Supreme Court nominee
Douglas H. Ginsburg, formed a company called Compatibility Research Inc., which
attempted to apply digital science to the art of love. Match-making sites such
as eHarmony, Match.com, OkCupid, and Casual Kiss are its love children.
But is technology really a boon to romance or a barrier to intimacy?
For the star-crossed lover Abelard who wrote to his unattainable Heloise
nearly a thousand years ago, the agony of waiting for the mail to arrive must
have been keen indeed. For many of today's romantically inclined, however, the
immediacy of electronic love notes helps to keep intense relationships
But for others, technology has its limits and its perils, because it allows
us to reach out to, but not touch someone. Instead, we're substituting
emoticons for emotions and stripping the intimacy of in-person encounters from
the small daily kindnesses of personal relationships.
"I think that word, 'connected' is a misnomer, because we believe we're
connected but in many ways we might be more disconnected from the actual
relationship with a person," says John O'Neill, LCSW, director of
addictions services for the Menninger Clinic in Houston.
A Match Made in (Cyber) Space
Certainly, technology can bring people together. According to eHarmony.com,
every day, 90 of its more than 17 million registered users get married. And
there are as many match sites as there are fish in the sea.
There are also hundreds or thousands of smaller sites offering pair-ups by
religious affiliation, gender, age, cultural interests, political convictions
-- whatever floats your boat. There's even one for Klingon and Vulcan
impersonators, called Trek Passions.
Jeanine Persichini of Dallas met her husband, Gary, eight years ago via an
online personals ad.
"I think it [technology] enhances a relationship," Persichini, a
real estate assistant in Dallas, tells WebMD.
"Actually, I think you get to know someone more, because they're not
hiding anything," she says. "You can shoot off a little 'I love you'
text message anytime during the day when you can't interrupt your significant
other at work with a call."
Persichini confesses to having been reluctant at first to reveal just how
she ended up finding true love, but she has come to realize, she says, that the
ends justified the means.