The Perils of the Internet

January 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Posted in internet, love, men, relationships | 3 Comments
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Ah, the Internet (or t’internet, if you’re feeling affected). It’s revolutionised our lives, allowing us to browse shoes, men & car insurance deals effortlessly. It was J D Salinger’s dream, surely? For with the internet, one need never leave the house: just buy your food and friends online (don’t forget your vitamin D tablets).

But, and I concede that this is not an original point, I fear that poor old E M Forster, beloathéd of A Level English students everywhere, would have a (quietly British) fit. Only connect? Only disconnect, more like. Because the internet has reduced us to window shoppers, browsers of the browser; there is no need to pay up or or fully commit to anything, whether it be a pasta bake or a person. Not only have we been reduced, but our emotions and actions have also: we can like, follow and unfollow, block and unblock in seconds.

Internet relationships are unique, and I have been intrigued by them ever since I read The Powerbook by the wonderful Jeanette Winterson, surely a prescient novel given the fact that one in five people now meet online I have tried online dating, and I am trying it now, but mostly, I am bored by it all. I know that many have found love online, and good luck to them, but it is such a cutthroat process: it’s so easy to scroll through hundreds of people and not be interested, as though they were merely a pair of shoes. Don’t like the photo? Ignore the person. Simple.

I left Facebook because people have started to use it as a ranting forum, and I am considering leaving Twitter because dirty messages and declarations of love from strangers don’t really do it for me, thanks very much. For the internet is an enabler, like alcohol: it can make us too impulsive for our own good.

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Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

February 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Posted in relationships | Leave a comment
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Recently, I entered the world of online dating.  It didn’t work out amazingly, but the gentleman and I have remained on good terms.  I didn’t join Guardian Soulmates to find a friend, but I’m glad I found this one.

The excellent columnist Eva Wiseman wrote about the end of relationships in our brave new digital age in the Observer Magazine last Sunday.  I thought she made a very interesting point in saying that we can no longer disappear when we are dumped or dump another: there is always the temptation to Google his or her name, or to request him or her as a Facebook friend, or follow him or her on Twitter.  In this increasingly digitalised age, we have to be more strict with ourselves: we have to make the choice not to use the internet as the virtual equivalent of walking past an ex’s house or sending him or her a letter.

What I found most bizarre was the website where you sell the presents your ex gave you.  Can you really not bear to be reminded of them that much?  Could you not have just thrown them away?  I shan’t be putting my wedding dress, red bracelet or leopard print stilettos on there anytime soon.

Speaking of online relationships, you must read The Powerbook. It offers a fascinating glimpse into them, as does the beginning of Ben Brooks’ novel Grow Up.

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