13 February 2008

love in the time of myspace

one of my best girlfriends called me earlier this week and said, “i changed my relationships status”. she started dating a new guy a couple of months ago, it started getting pretty intense a couple of weeks ago, and since they met on myspace, it only seemed fitting that their first step as a couple would be to “change their relationships status” and let the whole world know that they are now boyfriend and girlfriend.

i remember the days when that conversation would finally spring to life. it would begin innocently with an anecdotal monologue about not wanting to see other people and then without asking permission it would walk straight into the question, "will you be my boyfriend?" with a demand for finality. the conversation was scary (it's still scary) because it was (and is) much like walking naked through the hallways of school. it’s putting everything out there, hoping and praying for reciprocity in feeling, but not knowing if it’s all just a few definitive words away from ending, “i don’t really feel that way,” or “i’m not in a place where i can give you what you want,” or some other excuse that ends in heartbreaking disappointment. the most inevitable of questions in a new relationship now seems to revolve around some arbitrary electronic signal to the world.

don’t get me wrong. i’m a huge fan of myspace. i think it’s great. it’s the way i keep in touch with the friends and family i long ago left in the midwest for the greener, er dirtier, pastures of city life. but it doesn’t mean i don’t look back at the days of “pinning” or wrapping boys’ class rings with nostalgic predilection.

aw yes, the good ole days. i remember when my high-school boyfriend gave me his class ring as a sign of his devotion and his desire to see only me. it was a beautiful moment and my first serious relationship (though in retrospect, it was hardly serious and a whole lot naïve, but lovely nonetheless as it was my first bout with love). i spent hours wrapping his ring in colorful threads, sealing it with layer upon layer of clear fingernail polish, only to unwrap it and start all over with a new color every week or two. it was a symbol of my pride to be his girlfriend, a symbol of my mounting responsibility as someone’s lover, and a symbol of my commitment to only him. and the whole world knew what that ring on my finger meant.

nowadays, however, such isn’t the case. we have found ourselves living and dating in an electronic and unpredictable world. we meet our dates online, we talk to them online (instant messaging, e-mail, myspace messaging, etc.), we even date them online (sometimes). on a recent first date of mine, we talked about how crazy it is to have nearly unabridged access to the innermost caverns of a courter’s soul before even the first date. and while this is not a bad thing at every level, it does seem to negate some of the magical escalation in getting to know someone through long conversations in the wee hours of the morning, looking across the table at one another over coffee long gone cold, and falling madly and deeply in love by simply being with one another.

my friend and her new beau would likely disagree with much of my cynical sentiment. she says this is the most wonderful new beginning she’s ever shared with a lover. because their “meeting” was so happenstance and at a time in my friend’s life when a relationship was neither sought or even considered possible, she says the honesty from which this began is unparalleled in her experience. neither of them had anything to lose and their early exchanges were unwary, long, and candid. they hid nothing from one another because this was a friendship developing from nothing and probably going nowhere. they were friends in a cyber world without any real connections, until they did connect and fell in love with one another’s simple verity and acceptance of a world of beauty most don’t dare imagine.

even though i may seem a little cynical, i am a believer. i do believe in love and its wondrous power to conquer almost everything (i mean, i am divorced so it clearly doesn’t conquer everything). and i believe love can be found in all shapes and sizes and in all mediums and forums. i think the modern day of myspace dating has opened up the doors to grander possibilities in our quest for love, sex, companionship, whatever, and i do believe that magic follows wherever love blossoms. but it doesn’t mean i don’t or won’t let my mind wander back, sheepishly or otherwise, to revel in those awe-inspiring days of pins, letterman jackets, and thread-bound class rings over the clickety-click of today’s electronic status change.

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