Travel Sex and the social network Be careful if you flirt on the net, says Beau de Jour. You can get hooked on a girl without even meeting her. I have no idea whether any money changed hands at any stage in the process. My point is that he went online, encountered a single lady from a former Iron Curtain country, established a virtual relationship that became progressively more romantic and then, dear reader, he married her.
But he did have a Google wedding. The last I heard, the couple were blissfully happy. And they are by no means alone. Approximately one-third of all couples now meet online, a proportion only exceeded by that much more traditional approach: Among homosexuals, online encounters are even more prevalent: There are internet dating agencies covering every possible sub-section of human gender, race, class, education, proclivity and fetish. The reassuringly elevated level of their conversation is just the least of the benefits he now enjoys.
Then, of course, there are all the social networks, of which Facebook is surely the most widespread, the most promising, and by far the most dangerous, so far as romance is concerned. Approximately one-third of all couples now meet online, a proportion which is only exceeded by that much more traditional approach: This is a quality it shares with many internet activities: With its constant drip-drip of little rewards — the comments on your Wall, the compliments for your photographs, the delight of a new Private Message — Facebook is like a permanent little devil on your shoulder, constantly whispering: Log on, take another look — you know you want to.
The temptation is hard enough to resist when the messages are no more than tokens of innocent acquaintance. But when the promise — or, just as likely, delusion — of romance is added to them, the traditional longing for the phone to ring or the postman to arrive is magnified a thousandfold. For how are we to know who is really on the other end of all those virtual billets-doux? Who is to say whether the pretty face on the Facebook page bears any relation to the person whose page it is?
Just go to my page , for example. Anyone who has seen the remarkable documentary Catfish, which follows a New York photographer as he attempts to unravel the true identity of the beautiful girl with whom he believes he has started an online relationship will know how deceptive and even deceitful an internet affair can be. Here is a perfectly sane young man who is essentially conned into developing genuine feelings for someone who is very, very far from genuine themselves.
He has never held the girl he thinks he loves, never kissed her, never smelled her perfume or run his fingers through her hair. In short, he has never enjoyed any of those sensations that are not only delightful in themselves, but are the vital underpinning of any true love.
Social networks may make two people addicted to one another. But they cannot make them fit.