Romance 101: Technology

| Staff Columnist

Is technology killing romance? Back when our parents courted and dated, the extent of their communication was either phone calls, snail mail and in-person interaction. Now, we text, Google Chat, use Facebook and tweet. Does the convenience of social media and technology foster intimacy or lead to miscommunications, mixed messages and overanalyzing?

Access to technology and social media allows us to be in constant contact and behave boldly at a distance from behind the security of our cell phones. We can look at pictures and find someone’s phone number or determine their group of friends, past employments and how they like to compose thoughts in 140 characters or less. Although problems inevitably ensue, technology can facilitate hookups and relationships in many ways.

Technology can heighten sexuality and instill the feeling that you know someone, making a hookup more likely. “You have access to people’s pictures even if you don’t have their phone number. Or you can just get their phone number from Facebook,” senior Michael Fletcher said.

Based on my informal survey of Wash. U. students, both men and women rely on technology as an easy way to communicate in their relationships. For both sexes, the most popular method used to flirt with a potential hookup is texting, followed by Facebook messaging. After that, girls prefer wall posts, while guys like phone calls.

Almost half of the female survey respondents admitted that the more a potential hookup uses technology or social media to contact them, the more they think that the hook-up is interested. On the other hand, only a small minority of men felt the same way. The majority of both guys and girls testified that social media and technology are a necessary part of the chase.

“How would anyone flirt if they couldn’t text?,” senior Ana-Sofia Mariotta said.

Unsurprisingly, Cosmopolitan magazine recently reported that 78% of people receive sexy, flirtatious texts. Being forward can be easier when the exchange does not happen in person. It’s less awkward and more playful, though it is quite uncomfortable when a cyber Casanova is shy in person. (Note: based on the previously mentioned informal survey, slightly less than half of the male and female Wash. U. student populations reported that they do not sext).

At times, technology can do more evil than good. When asked if they would look at a hookup’s texts if they would not get caught, the majority of Wash. U. men said they would not, while less than half of the Wash. U. women admitted the same. Now that there are more avenues through which privacy can be breached, issues of infidelity and trust are complicated. Texts and Facebook actions can be read and reread until some ulterior meaning is strangled out.

And what happens if you receive a call or text during an actual hookup? Most guys reported they would ignore it, while a minority of girls admitted they would glance down to see who it was from.

When someone has the ability to contact you after you’ve hooked up or flirted in class, it is understandable to feel dejected if that contact does not happen. That is why technology confuses courting: Messages, or their absence, can be agonizingly overanalyzed. The image of a woman anxiously waiting by the phone for a call after a first date is archaic; now the question is if and when you will receive a text.

Britney Spears notoriously broke up with Kevin Federline through a text message. Technology should not be abused, nor should it ever replace good old-fashioned flirting and the accompanying body-language cues. Texting and Facebook can be a great way to get to know someone, but allowing them the power to determine whether or not someone is into you will only lead to missed opportunities.

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