A technology love-story, by Clearbox's Claire Hamilton.
As someone who lives 3,171 miles from their home-town, technology is my best friend. I Facetime my mom to catch-up, search for the best value flights using an app, use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and even leave my step-dad a voice message using Amazon Echo (Alexa is like another sibling in our home!)
Technology makes my life so much easier and more connected to the world around me. Yes, a hug from a loved one can't be fulfilled by a phone call or computer screen, but knowing that I live in Comber and can still see my mom's face in New York every day is pretty darn amazing.
In the age of tech hyper-connectivity, I can't help but reminisce about the days when seeing someone via "Facetime" was like science fiction… or more like the future dream scene from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion.
My generation was the last to grow up without mobile phones, swipe screens, social media or Amazon prime. I feel lucky that I didn't have to worry about the added pressures of modern tech as a teenager - the perfect Instagram story, how many likes I got or when to make it "Facebook official."
This week celebrates Internet Safer Day and Valentine's Day - a combination of two of my favourite things - tech and love. And to mark the occasion, I asked the team to share some of their favourite memories of dating before the tech revolution. It brought up teenage memories that had us all in roars of laughter, but also left the younger team scratching their heads. "What's dial-up?" "What's a screenname?"
Below, we've highlighted the young love stories that today's teens will never have to deal with...for better or for worse :-)
Having a girl/boy call your home-line phone to talk to you and your dad picks up
I remember this one vividly. The embarrassment you felt when a crush called the house and trepidation for how your parents would react. A right-of passage for any pre-teen who had a crush. Plus, with siblings, the heavy-breathing on the other line was a dead give-away that they were eavesdropping on your call.
Making a mixtape/CD of songs for someone you had a crush on
The original Spotify playlist of songs. Receiving a mixtape/CD of songs was the ultimate show of affection. A great example of the emotional rollercoaster of being a teenager "in love."
Waiting for your parents to get off the phone so that you could message your crush on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)
The dial-up noise is ingrained in my mind, as well as the excitement you felt when you could finally get on the internet to directly message someone. This was a more "tech" savvy form of communications that let you have a conversation without the fear that your parents or siblings were listening on the other line. Plus, those emo "away messages" were the perfect reflection of your romantic state of mind.
Making date plans and sticking to them
"Pick you up at 7pm for a movie" meant just that. There was no text that said: "I'm stuck in traffic, I'll be 15 minutes late." Late meant late and unless you called from a landline or payphone, there was no mobile phone call to let you know they had to change plans. If they didn't show up it meant, "Sorry babes, you were stood up."
Getting your photo in the local paper was your only "social media" presence
It is hard to imagine dating in a world with no social media - no Facebook official dating, funny meme based conversations via Instagram or couples profile pictures. In order to learn about someone's past activities, interests and social life, you had to get to know them the old-fashioned way - talking!
Technology has transformed the way we date. No time to buy flowers - Amazon Prime to the rescue, forgot to book a babysitter for a date-night - there's an app for that, your wife/husband is traveling- "Facetime me when you land" or don't have time to date - Swipe right!
All amazing innovations that improve dating, but don't forget about the love part. So maybe this Valentine's Day, leave the phone at home and kick it old style - go to a store to buy flowers, pick her up in your car and enjoy a lovely dinner, face-to-face!