The Internet is the new town hall, so it's perfectly rational to scan the crowd from a hidden corner … or so I told myself, when I pre-screened a blind date. There wasn't much wrong with him, he just seemed like a bit of a meathead, and not really my type. Which is exactly what I told my matchmaking girlfriend after I emailed the guy to cancel the date. She was surprised. Usually, I'm an optimistic dater who sees potential, even when I should see disaster.
And that's when I realized I'd crossed the line between exceptional time management and closed-mindedness, letting petty details get in the way of possibilities. After all the time and energy I'd given Google, what had it given me? Hours of angst over the truly awful middle school poem I never should have submitted to an online literary magazine. Awkward dates spent "discovering"facts in the evening that I'd already learned at my desk that afternoon. A pit in my stomach when an ex-boyfriend I hadn't spoken to for years admitted to reading all my articles online. (Even this one? Stop it. Really.) If romance was dead, I had let Google kill it.
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Perhaps, I reasoned, my friend Matt Ray was onto something. He's the only person I know who never googles in the name of love—all the more fascinating because, as a network architect and security expert in Seattle, he googles hackers for a living. "The dating process moves fast enough already,"he says. "Emails, instant messages, and cell-phone calls truncate what used to be a longer process. By the time I started dating my last girlfriend we had exchanged 15 emails, and who knows how many lines of IM. Come the second or third date, we had covered at least 50 percent of the significant gettingto-know-you data. And knowing everything up front takes away the allure of start-up dates."He had a point.
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So, when I received a flirtatious email from a friend of a friend, I thought twice before calling up my favorite search engine. Maybe it was time to live and let live. Let fate takes its course. Stop allowing a technology that gets hit on a trillion times a day determine who gets to hit on me. Sadly, this line of thinking lasted about 15 minutes. (See chocolate cake rationale.) I typed his name.