Do you remember those?
Back in the day, when you were set up by friends, you answered the door (or knocked on it), and there you both stood, awkwardly smiling at one another, never having met or talked to each other before that moment. And you were probably sizing right then and there whether the date was going to be good or bad, who was going to reject and who would be rejected.
At the moment the door was opened, and you saw each other eye-to-eye, and spoke, you engaged in a relationship. And those are scary – because in a relationship there is risk. Risk that someone will reject, and that someone will be rejected. Either action is painful and uncomfortable – no one wants to reject or be rejected, especially upon initial meeting.
In the dating world we have eliminated the risk of that initial rejection by creating a series of communications that don’t involve actual human contact before human contact is made. You have both filled out hundreds of questions that give the voyeur insight into your personality and interests, as well as posted dozens of dated photos that show you engaging in your favorite pastimes with friends you used to have.
If those faraway glimpses are interesting enough, you might send an electronic wink that doesn’t involve using actual words, just an electronic ping that vaguely resembles that moment eye contact is made from across the room, when we were all still in actual rooms together. If the recipient “winks” back, then you may engage in some type of email exchange. An initial conversation that used to start with “Hey, what’s your name and who are you,” but you don’t have to ask that because you know all that from their on-line profile. And still, you’re at a safe distance and can write, rewrite, wait a while to respond, consider words, consult your friends. You can respond with grammatic perfection and casual wit. Some dating sites even have a minimum requirement of electronic exchanges that are required before you can speak! To improve their success rates, I suppose…it’s always about the numbers, isn’t it??
Only then, after you have read the dating resume, viewed the pictures, electronically winked, and exchanged electronic pleasantries, are you allowed to actually engage in a conversation with that person!
Business relationships have taken the same turn. Cold calling has died because no one wants to reject the caller, nor does the caller want to be rejected. We have resorted to emailing, LinkingIn, friending and texting to make sure there’s a reason for us to speak – which is a good thing, because who wants to go on a blind date, anyway?