When I was a little girl, I often visited my grandparents’ home. Their radio was a big, square box with buttons, almost like a console television but without the screen. There was only one station to listen to, but that never deterred my grandfather who sat spellbound beside the radio hour after hour.
To my child’s mind, the radio was magic. Funny and dramatic voices, music and songs came from it. At bedtime the box went quiet, just like the house. I always said goodnight to the radio, certain there were tiny people living inside it.
Sometimes I feel exactly the same way about my computer, and I bet I’m not alone. The computer dwellers are more entertaining than the people who lived in the old radio. When I talk to the people in my computer, they talk back. It’s magic all over again. Or is it?
The radio kept my grandfather in touch with events in the outside world. In my case and perhaps yours, the Internet is becoming the voice and face of that world, especially when it comes to dating.
Sure, cyber-dating was fun and exciting at first: browsing the profiles, those flirtatious e-mails, exchanging photos, the first phone call, and eventually that first public meeting over coffee—which was often also the last meeting. Starting all over again. Different sites, new profiles, same old story. And that, my friends, is NOT magic.
The full cycle of a romance—from the first tingle to the last fizzle—can take place in cyberspace, without either party ever leaving the comforts of home. We need never actually meet the object of our desire before we dump them, or they dump us.
Computers have replaced television for filling the hours, but while your horizons may expand, your social life will shrink. I’m not asking you to toss your computer out the window, but to raise your eyes to that window and have a look at what’s beyond the perceived safety of the Internet.
This computer stuff is great in moderation. But spring is in the air; nature is recreating itself. I suggest we do the same. Instead of picking up fast food for lunch, and eating in your car or at your desk, sit outside and pay attention to people around you. You may notice someone paying attention to you. And computers aren’t the only technology that can inhibit romance. When shopping for groceries, leave your cell phone and iPod in the car. Be aware of those around you. Smile. You’ll be surprised by how many smiles you get in return. If you’ve forgotten how to approach a person of the opposite sex outside of cyberspace, start the easy way: go to the post office, the bank, or a show opening—anywhere people queue up and aren’t using their cell phones, iPads, or iPods. Comment about the weather, the price of stamps, the show reviews. Above all, make sure you leave something pleasant behind. Like what? Like a compliment, or a pleasant observation, and be sincere. With practice, meeting new people will become a good habit—and that is a special kind of magic.