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February 18, 2009 | News

Marry From The Internet? You Must Be A Computer' (Part 2)

Marry From The Internet? You Must Be A Computer' (Part 2)

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch. Matchmaker, matchmaker, look through your book and make me a perfect match.” Sure, we are all Fiddlers on the Roof, trying to stretch out a pleasant simple tune without breaking our neck. We enjoyed the lyrics of the phenomenal Rogers and Hammerstein composition of the song, and loved the Jerome Robbins's directed choreography. We sung along, completely oblivious of the very modern setting of this 1970 play. Even in those days, Yente, the matchmaker, had to look through a book to make her matches. Well, that is what Tevye's daughters said in the song. Maybe if there were computers, she would have created a website to post profiles of the carpenters and the butchers she was making matches for. So, perhaps, it serves our purposes that these days we have a new dating website coming out everyday. Very soon, every household would have a family dating site, where family members would find their matches without paying money to a dating organisation. Of course, some of the dating sites are free but the whole business of internet dating is becoming as unexciting as the underpants of a eunuch.

We have lost count of how many dating websites there are on the internet. Fling.com serves those who are looking for canal pleasure without any commitment. If you want a serious relationship like marriage, eharmony.com is the place to find it. There, the matching is done based on a rigorous compatibility and personality test, and it is very comprehensive. For those who just want to try their luck, there are thousands more serving singles with varied emotional needs. You can narrow your search according to colour by visiting Blackpeoplemeet.com or MatureMatchonline.com if you want to taste the wrinkles of a septuagenarian. For Christians who cannot invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to provide love, there are Christian dating sites like Bigchurch.com, and christiansingles.com. Muslims also have dating sites, where those who share the faith of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) can browse through single ladies wearing the hijab or gentlemen with long, bushy beard. Otherwise, you can always try AdultFriendfinder.com, where the only qualification is that you have to be an adult.

Even though these are online businesses, most of them have well established offices at strategic locations, from where ladies with sweet voices monitor the credit card commitments of members. The operators of Lavalife.com claim it is not a dating website, because the online dating business has been saturated. Instead, they encourage real personal encounters. And it comes with a big commitment: a whooping $500 commitment deposit and some $200 a month until the search of a partner is completed. They don't sponsor the wedding though, but they have contacts with wedding planners who would organise a superb event for a fortune. In the end, there will be nothing left to live on. The dating agency may as well clone a woman and display her in a shop for the highest bidder. Soon, we would have dating agencies knocking our doors with single men and women paraded on cars to be bought like energy-saving bulbs. It is funny none of the agencies is talking about the implications of internet dating on global warming.

Well, maybe the cyber footprints of the thousands of singles and cheating wives looking for love on the internet, could be contributing to greenhouse gasses. We would leave that for our next discussion. For now, let's consider the question we asked the other day. Who really is internet dating for? When the first part of this article was published, an elated reader wrote to ask why a man of my calibre would go looking for love on the internet. What calibre am I? I am a very ordinary-looking bloke with a moustache as bushy as Saddam Hussein's, and a Budweiser-filled belly that looks as if it has benefited from some gracious ex-gratia payments. Is internet dating a sport for freethinking cyber freaks who are decidedly non-conformists, or it is the last resort for a psychology professor who teaches a 3 credit paper on online research? Interestingly, the profiles of those looking for love are as varied as the dating websites on the internet. There are doctors and lawyers, just as there are bored housewives who only want a little pleasure. I guess the profile of a journalist shouldn't be too much of a wonder, especially if he is not a very brilliant one.

To ask whether internet dating is good or bad, or for those who wear their faith on their sleeves, whether it is Christian or unchristian, is to ask whether it is wrong for a married born-again Christian to masturbate focussing on his wife, and no other woman. It is perhaps the same thing as asking whether it is proper for a Christian to learn a few things from a pornographic movie to up his game with wife, as Gospel musician Kirk Franklin used to do. Very few men would tick the yes box when they have to answer a question on pornography or whether they would ever pay for sex. Yet they pay with their credit cards to find partners on the internet. We all expressed great outrage when the dodgy lives of former New York Governor Earl Spitzer and top Evangelical preacher Ted Haggard, were exposed. They hid that part of their lives, in much the same way that those who peruse dating websites, looking for love, also hide it from even their closest pals. If we feel the need to close a dating page when our flatmate is near, then perhaps, there is something not quite right with it. We would usually not hide good things. Well, maybe it is because the pursuit of love is private, whether on the internet or in church.

If finding love on the internet appears wrong, it is because there is too much sex on the internet these days. The moment you make a presence on a dating site, all the porn and dating organisations get hint of your desperation. Before you are through with registering your details on one site, numerous advertisements of other dating sites flash you on the sides of your screen, promising better services. Interestingly, they all have one trick: they request your email address as the first step in the registration process, so that if you quit the page before completion, they can send you a mail to remind you of hot matches waiting for you. Those mails would fill your inbox until you give in one day. Contacting one of your matches appears free until you really try making a contact. Immediately, a page will show up, requesting your credit card details. They are smart enough to position the photo of your match just beside the credit card information, to titillate your sexual nerves. It is a direct pay as you go deal. The bother doesn't stop there even after you have paid to sign in. Sometimes, a near naked girl will flash on your page, or invite you into a chat room. She starts the conversation by asking pleasant questions about work and how the day has been. Then suddenly the big question comes: “Do you want to have some fun?” They would then invite you into their private chat rooms, where you would have to sign in with just $1 to see her naked. “I have all the fun tools ready, just sign in and let's have fun,” she would say. Your credit card is at their mercy if you do sign in.

Because of this background, many people are sceptical looking for love on the internet.
So, even though my romance with my new internet scoop is going so well, I am not able to totally commit to a relationship because I can't seem to get over the suspicions that had built up prior to our meeting. After all, we had both used fake names until me met. We gave each other our 'correct' email addresses when the project proceeded to the next level. How do I confirm that the identity she has given me now is the true one? If fake begets fake, then I am wondering how a project that started on deception would pan out well. But then, is it unusual in real life for parties to start a project on a wrong note and work it to perfection? Apparently, that seems to underlie the confidence she has in our relationship. Whenever she tells me that God brought us together for a reason, it sends me thinking: Did God bring us together or it is the internet? God is not computer literate. Even if he was, he wouldn't be perusing dating websites arranging matches, because the internet is full of Viagra and other sex items. Besides, the instructions in I Corinthians 7 do not seem to recommend that Christian singles should go looking for love. Instead, the book advises singles to enjoy being single. So, I wonder what role the Holy Spirit will be playing as a born-again Christian feeds his eyes on the profile photographs of women, some of them revealingly flirtatious. Well, their profiles would say they are Christians.

Thus far, I have not intimated that internet dating is wrong for Christians. After all Ted Haggard had the Holy Spirit in him when he went about devouring the bony nakedness of gay prostitutes, his Holy Bible tucked in a bag somewhere in the hotel room. But sometimes you wonder whether it is a reliable way to find a life partner. So far, my new partner appears quite reliable. We feel a great deal of chemistry between us. The day she invited me for lunch in her house, I had the best treatment any lady has ever given me. She had done some charity work in Africa and knew that most African foods are carbohydrate based. She also knew that Africans do not consider sandwich and toasted bread foods of any kind. Even so, I was completely taken aback when I was served hot Kenkey, fish and good old Kpakpo shito. “Where did you get this from”, I asked. She had googled African shops in Ottawa, and had found addresses of the few that are here. The shop attendant had showed her what to serve me. She also collected some recipes for soup. Besides her caring nature, she is very respectful and appears prepared to learn my culture. Should the fact that I found her on the internet discourage me from marrying her?

Love is found at different places. If people find love in discos, after going on a boozing spree and enjoying a cocaine-fuelled dance, why should the internet be such a bad idea? The venture does not appear wrong, but I don't seem confident telling anybody that we met on the internet. If it is not unusual to marry from the internet, why is it news whenever we hear of a successful marriage that started from the computer? That means it is not the norm. And anything that is against the norm is not recommended. I didn't know she had told her parents how we met until she took me to visit them. The mother, a 65 year old lady, exclaimed: “Is it not amazing what the internet can do? You make a good match.” I didn't know what to think. Well, these are Caucasians in a developed society in the West; their approach to marriage is different from the kind I am used to in Cape Coast. Would my mother be happy to learn that I downloaded my wife from the computer, when there are churches everywhere in Canada? She is wont to ask: “Do you know when she will go back into the internet? Careful son, the computer is full of viruses these days.”

Credit: Benjamin Tawiah (He lives in Ottawa, Canada. He is a freelance writer.)
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