Not at ease with digital dating

By Christopher Maina Maybe I am getting old or being overtaken by the times. I say this because I fail to understand why there is such a huge increase in

  • PublishedApril 29, 2014

By Christopher Maina

Maybe I am getting old or being overtaken by the times. I say this because I fail to understand why there is such a huge increase in television advertisements targeting singles looking for partners, or those already in relationships but feel bored. Today, all one needs to get connected to the ‘love of their life’ is dial a certain number and voila! Better still, one can send the name of their object of desire to be told whether that person is the one. In short, today’s lover has the chance to know whether a relationship will work even before it starts. What luck?

I’m yet to hit 40 but the things I watch and hear in the media today make me feel so old school, analogue and close a caveman. Since when did a first date become the interest of TV producers and viewers at home, and not a private affair by the riverbank? Technology has truly made life easy – you communicate with people millions of miles away in real time; you can shop, pay the bill and have your shopping delivered to any destination without leaving your house; and now you can just send a text message and get connected to a date – all good and easy. But my conservative nature feels that some things are best done in their conventional design. Like meeting a potential partner and dating face to face.

Don’t youths nowadays fancy the adrenaline rush – the cold sweat running through your armpits, the blushing and butterflies in the stomach that come with the thought of introducing yourself to a potential mate?

I remember when I was dating how I planned and rehearsed the lines I would use to convince a hard-nut-to-crack-girl to go out with me. “You are the sun that lights my world,” “I will cross the ocean for you,” “I will hold you like a conversation,” or “if loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right,” and so went the rehearsed lines. I also practiced the right walking style and pose. Walking with a bounce, having a haircut like Mike Tyson’s, and standing with one shoulder sagging. This did not always bear fruits but boy; it was the epitome of courage and creativity. To my daughters, that is how I met your mother.

I think that the ladies of our time and before that enjoyed dating more than the digital girls of today. These were the ladies who truly knew the meaning of a man’s persistence. We did not make it easy by calling a dating agency or getting connected through TV or short text messaging (SMS). We saw a woman we liked, followed her from a distance to know where she lived and went back home to strategise. Sometimes we would involve a few friends or family members in the planning and when ready, would pursue the lady like a leopard stalking a gazelle.

There was no giving up until she said yes and accompanied one to the photo studio for that one-in-a lifetime picture with the background of the Kenyan coast. That was what you would show to every one of your friends as a way of marking your territory. You would also hang the picture in your cubicle for all to see. The ups and downs of dating would begin after the photo shoot, but today’s TV, social media and SMS lovers know none of this.

There is another kind of man who will not hook up via social media or television, but will only approach a lady when they are both tipsy. He is the bar lover. Give him alcohol and he turns into a knight. His charm is awakened and any woman he puts his mind on will have the night of her life. Until he sobers up and the timid, shy sissy reappears.

These things scare me. But like every human behaviour, they have their root in society. How our children and youth are socialised from childhood determines their behaviour even in adulthood. Today’s children are largely brought up between school and television. They go to school from as early as five and are done with homework late at night. Any free time, usually an hour before sleep, is spent watching television.

Such children rarely interact with other people or new friends. They are therefore handicapped when it comes to socialising. They do not know how to start a conversation with a stranger and that will impact on their dating when the time comes. That is why so many youths are feeling more at ease with dating agencies. Sad thing, however, is that even in marriage, these kids will not know how to hold a serious conversation besides, “how was your day?” No wonder marriage counsellors, like dating agencies, are having a field day.

As I said, could be I am being overtaken by the digital age, but if this is something that concerns any of you brothers, then we must all make an effort to socialise our children among real human beings and not among Disney characters.

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