I’m inspired on this Valentine’s Day to consider the many ways technology has made romance more efficient, if not more romantic. For example, in my dating days, young men asked young ladies for their telephone numbers--other young ladies anyway.
Who needs a telephone numbers now that you can contact each other on social media? Of course, there’s always the chance that she’s 15 posing as 25 and he has a criminal record and wives in three states. But still, how convenient.
Getting to know each other is easier today too. A young couple can text message each other from across the classroom all day. They shouldn’t, but they can—until their cell phones are confiscated.
The language of love has also changed. Long ago, we had to read between the lines of our love letters: “Did he write carefully with thought and feeling, trying to find the exact words to show his love? Or did he dash his letter off during commercials, as if I meant nothing to him?” Today, emoticons make an e-mail’s true meaning clear: “It was wonderful to see you! ;-)” “I miss you sooooo much! :(“
And there are many romantic instant message abbreviations available for young couples, for example the very dreamy “MOS,” which loosely translated, means, “Gotta go. Mom is looking over my shoulder.”
Naturally, as technology changes love, it must also change love songs. In my youth, letters and phone calls were often the inspiration for songs about romance. Elvis “put a letter in the mailbox and sent it special D. Bright and early next morning, it came right back to me!” Today he’d be singing a different tune. “Failure notice. Inbox disabled. Permanent error.” Catchy, huh?
“On a day like today,” Pat Boone “passed the time away writing love letters in the sand.” On a day like this day, he’d have to pass the time away sending text messages in the mall.
Karen Carpenter desperately waited for a letter from her beau. “Mr. Postman look and see, if there’s a letter, a letter for me!” Modern mail carriers don’t bring many letters anymore. Today, she’d have to serenade her internet provider.
The Box Tops sang, “Give me a ticket for an air-o-plane, I ain’t got time to take a fast train. Lonely days are gone; I’m a coming home; my baby just wrote me a letter.” Today, the Box Tops love song might sound more like an advertisement: “Get on Expedia and buy an airline ticket. I ain’t got time to see a travel agent. Lonely days are gone; I’m a coming home. My baby just sent me a text message.”
Jim Croce asked the operator to “help me place this call. See the number on the matchbook is old and faded.” Operator? Matchbook? How quaint! Today, he’d have to find her on Google after his smartphone malfunctioned.
While patiently waiting for the lady to pick up the phone, Electric Light Orchestra sang, “I’ll just sit tight through shadows of the night and let it ring forever more.” You could never do that today—thank goodness. These days, they’d just sit tight, through shadows of the night, until her cellphone was back in the service area. Put that in your iPod and sing it.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)