Modern Romance

Now and again I come across something on the internet that reminds me how disconnected I am from the world of the young. (Actually for “now and again” read “every 20 minutes or so”).

Occasionally though I read a piece that doesn’t just make me feel old and out of the loop, but cynical and misanthropic as well, and not in a good way. The latest example of this is Gwen Bell’s blog, and specifically this post: “A Guide to Falling in Love + Growing a Modern Romance Online“.

Gwen feels qualified to write about this because she met her boyfriend Joel, who is now her fiancé, via Twitter. The story is rather sweet in its own way, especially the bit where her beloved proposes by making an elaborate sign and hanging it up in their favourite coffee shop. They are due to wed later this year; you can follow the build up to the nuptials on their joint website, as well as on Gwen’s Twitter feed.

So why does this happy tale awaken my inner curmudgeon? “A bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person” sums up my personality pretty well at the best of times I guess, but the sort of unselfconscious narcissism that drives people to use a service like Twitter, or to write “A Guide to Falling in Love + Growing a Modern Romance Online” based on their own personal experience of doing so once, is something of a bête noire for me.

(I know that I am the author of a blog which deals mainly with my random thoughts, so we’re deep within “pot, kettle, black” territory here, but, come on, Twitter? Like even your closest friends are so interested in what you are doing right at this minute that they need a constant update on your mundane daily activity? RandomTweets.com, a site dedicated to finding anything on Twitter “humorous, weird, inspiring, newsworthy or just plain cool”, hasn’t been updated since July 15th, presumably the day the webmaster went insane after reading “I’m shopping!!!” once too often).

Gwen’s “Guide” contains so much that feels completely alien to my concept of “Romance” that it’s hard to pick out examples. You really have read the whole thing to appreciate it. This is my favourite bit though (with Gwen’s emphasis):

Joel and I have shared a calendar for about 6 months now. We each had our own Gcalendars (free) associated with our Gmail accounts, and then we set up a joint calendar for shared events. Once a week we go over the details of the week together. We roll over events that we missed.
Most important, we associate a time and date to things so that we get a reminder sent to our phones before it’s time for it to start. Believe it or not, this seemingly small point is a crucial ingredient to the success of our relationship.

This is how the kids live these days? A boy can be so overwhelmed by information that he will forget he has a date with his inamorata unless a computer phones him up to remind him?

If I’m honest though, I have to admit that I’m the one with the problem here, not Gwen. She has the confidence of youth, and I have what Socrates called True Wisdom, that which “comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us”. I could never write a “Guide to Love”, not because I haven’t been around that particular block more than a few times, but because the experience I have had has convinced me that, when it comes to affairs of the human heart, we all have to make our own way. So good luck to Gwen and Joel, may they have many happy years together, and avoid True Wisdom for as long as they can.

[Socrates also said “Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think”, so from now on I’m going to try to lighten up some of my more dour posts by ending with a link to the song that inspired the post title. Though, come to think of it, this one is a bit of a downer.]

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