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The Electric Grapevine | Modern Romance | 03.05.2010

As I reach a milestone with my girlfriend I have been noticing how much technology has changed the way we view and orchestrate romance in this modern age. After much thought, my general feeling is that technology is hampering, or at least taking some of the romance out of romance.

Between the net, online banking, Twitter, Facebook, texting and more I've decided that romance is now a carefully monitored battlefield that can be ruined somewhat by the ever present wall of communication and social networking.

What would otherwise be a surprise gift of a bouquet of flowers has to now be done in a covert manner. The surprise and elation that comes with "I got you flowers baby," can now be totally foreshadowed as you arrive home to discover your partner already knew as she was going about online banking whilst you were "surprising" her. In this case you had also make damn sure those flowers are in your hands or your mothers'.

One has to almost employ the same tactics they would if they were harboring a mistress in order to keep the spontaneity a part of the equation. Cash purchases and unanswered cell phone calls are par for the course if you don't intend for your other half to question you while you are in a flower shop on the way home.

There are two ways to look at the tethering that develops between a couple with all our fancy new devices. On one hand you are literally on a digital leash but on the other you can use that leash to channel well timed perk ups and loving messages. It's finding that balance that makes relationships work as well as many do in this hyper-communicative age. Tweets and status updates from friends can also deliver news a little faster than you hoped if your friends' information makes it home before you do.

The process of even getting into a romantic union has changed with texting dialect altering the way we say and accept certain time honored phrases. The days of mix tapes delivered wrapped in hand drawn covers are long gone with nothing even close to that level of creativity and heart taking its place. A shiny CD with pirated songs and stolen cover art hardly screams "thoughtful".

With even CDs in the rear-view mirror it is especially hard to imagine just how impersonal the courting process may become. I can only imagine a remake of Say Anything would have some John Cusack replacement holding an iPod above his head as he delivers a memory stick full of songs to a prospective mate.

"Here...have some data"

"Where's my cover?"

"Oh just Wikipedia it!"

Peter Gabriels' In Your Eyes would likely be replaced by Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. Due to our formative stage being based around texting, my girlfriend and I got into the habit of literally saying "I heart you" for a number of months which delayed the inevitable real phrase in a somewhat odd but definitely cute manner.

Perhaps this middle ground is good for some people who need that stepping stone to take the plunge into the "L Word". I, however, did not need that middle ground (see what I did there?) It is that vague development process that lead to my girlfriend and I simply inventing a number of anniversaries as neither of us really even know when this started exactly.

Regardless, that lets us celebrate a few times over as we are this week. With that I would like to sidestep my usually cynical use of this space and say "Happy Anniversary Baby, I Heart/Love Ya."

Regular sarcastic and cynical programming will resume next week should you still follow my column after this syrupy goodness! Romance in my mind...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5-CyWvTY-A&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14BsjAqv-Vc