Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | 05:47 AM
Commentary: Is Technology the Enemy of Love?
It's hard to tell someone how you really feel -- in 140 characters. I mean, you can try it. Sometimes it works. Except when it doesn't. Like when your significant other texts you to ask what you think of your date-night plans, and you text back only one word: "Fine." Does that "fine" equal "Sounds like a great idea, honey! Can't wait to tear up those chicken wings at Harold's!" Or does that "fine" equal "I am begrudgingly agreeing to do this thing that I hate. Your obsession with Harold's Chicken is grossly stereotypical and disgusts me." That's the real peril of love via Twitter and text. You only get a brief amount of time to get your point across, and without the visual clues you get from casual conversation, a "joke" can quickly become offensive. An off-hand quip can become a heated fight. It's easy to be misunderstood when such a small form of communication can be read in so many different ways. But technology is not the enemy of love. And yet you'd never know that from the press. Stories abound of celebrity cheating scandals surrounding suspicious text messages, from the rumored affair of actor Ashton Kutcher and a 21-year-old, to golfer Tiger Woods and the 1,001 texts of doom that torpedoed his marriage, and the embarrassing quartet of NBA stars Shaquille O'Neal, Gilbert Arenas, his then-fiance, Laura Govan, and Shaq's now ex-wife, Shaunie. You'd think Twitter was a swinger's club. But before you Lo-Jack your significant others' Facebook page, remember: technology is a tool meant to make our lives easier. It can work for you if you know how to work it! Social networking can help you stay in touch with those you love; it can help to quickly clear up potential misunderstandings with its rapid speed of connectivity, and in the case of single folks, can help you get a date. Right now, I'm matching-up Twitter followers online through my "Modern Day Matchmaker Wednesdays" on Twitter. (Follow me @OneDegreeFromMe!) Every Wednesday, I take a bachelor or bachelorette, describe them in detail, field questions from followers, and then match them up with those who request to meet them after learning the details. Also, a lot of dating sites, like OKCupid, utilize instant messaging, "winks" and other forms of micro communication to help people get to know each other easier and faster, so they can make better decisions about dating. Social networking is your friend when it comes to romance. You just have to follow several key rules of in our age of abbreviated conversation. Be clear. Be concise. Be nice. Be clear in what you want. You can make your jokes. You can make your quips. But you have to get to the point and you better get to it fast. (You've only got those 140 characters. Maybe 160 in the case of most texts.) There's not a lot of room for nuance and ambiguity, so please, don't put it there. Save it for the face-to-face. Be concise; no one wants to read a book worth of texts or tweets. You need to be pithy and brief (but not so brief that your significant other is unable to tell what you mean. Re: "Fine.") And, be nice. If you have to cancel a date, a Facebook status update doesn't count. An email doesn't either. You need a voice-to-voice or a face-to-face to confirm your date or to verify that the significant other got the message loud and clear. While technology has made communication easier we can't avoid classic IRL (in real life) communication if we want to make love connections that last. Use technology to augment your love communications, but wield it wisely. And never just text the word, "Fine." You're better than that.