Back in the day...before personal computers or cell phones, there were boys and there were girls. In most cases, beginning somewhere in the junior high years, one party or the other would instigate communication intended to decipher the feelings or intentions of the other. In simple terms: people were attracted to each other and paired up. While there were same-sex unions then, and there are now...I'm going to assume for purposes of this discussion that there are boys who like girls and girls who like boys. Only for simplicity, and because I understand that dynamic better.
The ritual of pairing up has taken many different forms and turns since the beginning of time including arranged marriages, layaway programs (Jacob in the Bible), multi player models (one guy...a gazillion wives), good old fashioned love at first sight, war brides, friends then lovers, and now...the internet and Match.com.
But it still boils down to this: two people are somewhat remotely possibly interested in getting to know each other better. They are willing to spend time to determine if this is something that they want more of...or want to run screaming from as quickly as possible.
In the 1980's, the dating ritual involved finding out who someone was, getting your friends to intervene, using the rotary telephone (or push button if you were "uptown"), driving by the person's house, attending ball games, and just randomly showing up in the hopes of seeing them and then eventually getting to hang out with them. If they did or didn't like you...normally everyone knew...because you had to go through friends and acquaintances to get from point A to point B. So, you had to be really sure...and really careful...since if it did or didn't work out...everyone would be aware of what was going on and it would be the topic de jour.
And as long as it wasn't you...it was interesting to follow. Because of this...many mothers today are trying to follow the exploits of their daughters who are managing the ritualistic dating dance in a totally brave new world. And they wonder why we are so interested in who they are talking to and why. Well, it was all that training years and years ago of trying to figure out the twists and turns of relationships with our friends that make us annoyingly inquisitive now to our daughters. The truth is that we'd just like to utilize the skill set that we so carefully honed once upon a time.
Today, if there is someone that my daughter is interested in...all she has to do is send a "friend invitation" or accept his on Facebook. Facebook friendship for the younger set is far less discriminating. You can be friends with tons of people that you not only do not know...but do not really care to know. As a friend...you are then free to delve into the pictures everyone has tagged to the individual, find out who his friends are, what his ex-girlfriend looked like and pretty much any pertinent data short of his blood type.
The "status" on Facebook can be changed from "in a relationship" to "single" and prompt a flurry of discussion...and telephone calls to the now unattached. And this can be watched over time, kind of like a virtual buzzard flying over some poor soul's relationship. Trust me, I've seen THAT one in action as recently as last month.
Wait...did I say telephone calls? I lied. I meant TEXT MESSAGES. Yep, they can find out someone's phone number by finding out who her friends are and asking one of them that he knows. Shouldn't be too hard...they probably have 100 or so in common.
See, today's young man can be turned down without actually having to man up and ask her out. He doesn't have to start out with a telephone call and figure out something to say to her. If he texts her something brainless like "Whazzup?" and she doesn't talk to him...well...no biggie. Nobody knows that she isn't interested...but him. And that's okay. Sort of.
If she is somewhat intrigued...she will check out his profile to see if he is worth even responding to. She may be a little freaked out by a picture posted the night before of the caller and a very attractive female. She may not know that it's his sister. If she sees this first...she may not respond to the text because she doesn't want to get into a catfight with some girl over a guy she barely knows. He will realize that she hasn't responded...thinks she isn't interested, and move on. Then the girl will wonder why he texted her once and then went away.
All done without getting emotionally involved at any level...and with an off the charts laziness quotient (except for the cyberstalking).
Today, Jill met someone on a fraternity river float (whatever that is). By her description, I was able to locate him on Facebook. I found out where he lives (home address) on the fraternity website. I also know his first name (which is interesting and likely a source of mortification for him) because he showed up on the Dean's List in 2007. All by the magic of technology. And NO, I am not normally a cyberstalker...unless you count Collective Soul and Foo Fighters YouTube videos and interviews. In these cases, I'm guilty as charged.
And we wonder why boys are so lazy now that they wait until a girl pursues THEM. Well, why wouldn't they? By just hanging out with Miss Right Now...they don't have to look for Miss Right in person. They can just find someone to hang out with/date/talk to on the internet. Scary, isn't it?
I have found that cyberstalking is so prevalent that most of the kids I know do it. They put their lives online...and then they manage the emotional part of it without benefit of having to actually have a conversation with someone. So weird.
I suppose that I miss the days where you actually waited for a phone call. Now, you wait for a text message. A little different, don't you think? You miss the voice inflections, the nervousness that tells you that they really do like you, and the joy that comes from three hour phone conversations about nothing.
Oh well. Here's hoping that my future son-in-law is a little more "old school." Later!