For a moment, while reading David Vecsey's Modern Love piece in Sunday's New York Times, I thought I was hearing the history of my parents' endearing courtship in the 70's. He tells a sweet story about his experience with young love in a pre-Internet era that completely reminded me just how much we currently currently live in a connected and online world.
Vecsey called it the "The old-fashioned way of falling in love," while sharing the story of how serendipity and taking chances, with no online assistance played a role in a new relationship with a girl named Joelle circa 1991. A simpler time when cellphones couldn't distract conversations and date photos didn't end up posted on a "wall." A time when sending a postcard sufficed as a check-in and status update all at once.
"Sometimes when I'm watching old movies, I can't help dwelling on the crucial plot devices that have been lost to, well, devices. The missed phone call which today rings in our pockets. The wrong turn down a dark road, easily avoided with GPS. The long-lost love, who now lives forever in our Twitter feed."
Vecsey contends "modern technology has made our world smaller and our lives easier, but perhaps it also has diminished life's mysteries, and with them, some sense of romance."
This led me to think about the sessions at SXSW Interactive 2014 that are focused on the topic of online dating, where some would argue there is little to no chance for these serendipitous moments that he refers to.
A few of these online dating-related sessions include:
The Algorith Method: Love Meets Social Media - This panel will dive deep into a variety of topics, including how tech affects long distance relationships and how online dating creates an endless supply of prospective dates, making it difficult to achieve lasting love.
The Dating Game: Mobile Tech's Impact on Singles: This talk by Greg Liberman of Spark Networks will look at how men and women use mobile technology differently when online dating and talk about whether it's creating more confusion or making it easier to meet someone new.
How Douchebags Ruined Dating: Elissa Shevinsky with MakeOutLabs is ready to tackle the issue of spammers making online dating a less than plesant experience, while offering tips and advice to solve the problem.
And for those looking to connect IRL, Kathryn Irwin is once again hosting her popular SXsingle Meet Up, playing into the hands of those embracing serendipity and meeting like-minded folks and maybe other singles. At the very least you should go in honor of David and Joelle.
Has online dating diluted serendipity or is our online and connected access increasing our chances of meeting someone really special? Register today to join the conversation with the sessions above and more on this topic at SXSW Interactive.