Swinging Abercrombie News
LOVE in the Time of No Time
the city is full of people we can't reach. We pass them on sidewalks, sit across from them in the subway and in restaurants; we glimpse their lighted windows from our own lighted windows late at night. That's in New York. In most of America, people float alongside one another on freeways as they drive between the city and the places where they live. To lock eyes with a stranger is to feel the gulf between proximity and familiarity and to wish -- at least sometimes, briefly, most of us -- that we could jump the hedges of our own narrow lives and find those people again when they drift out of sight.
Improved technology -- namely, the proliferation of broadband and the abrupt ubiquity of digital cameras -- partly explains online dating's surge in popularity. More critical still is the fact that the first generation of kids to come of age on the Internet are now young adults, still mostly single, and for them, using the Web to find what they need is as natural as using a lung to suck in air. They get jobs and apartments and plane tickets online -- why not dates?
Still, a fair number of people continue to feel a stigma about dating online, ranging from the waning belief that it's a dangerous refuge for the desperate and unsavory to the milder but still unappealing notion that it's a public bazaar for the sort of people who thrive on selling themselves. The shopping metaphor is apt; online dating involves browsing and choosing among a seemingly infinite array of possible mates. But those who see a transactional approach to coupling as something new and unseemly would do well to pick up a novel by Jane Austen, where characters are introduced alongside their incomes. There is nothing new about the idea of marriage as a business transaction. Serendipitous love is what's new, love borne of chance, love like what engulfed my grandparents after my grandfather, then a resident physician at a Chicago hospital emergency room, happened to remove my grandmother's appendix. Serendipitous love as a romantic ideal is a paean to cities and their dislocations, the unlikely collisions that result from thousands of strangers with discrete histories overlapping briefly in time and space. And online dating is not the opposite of this approach to love, but its radical extension; if cities erase people's histories and cram them together in space, online dating sites erase both cities and space, gathering people instead under the virtual rubric of a brand.
Full credit for this Wife Swapping news article goes to: New York Times
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