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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on February 1st, 2011, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 11, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 11, Issue 47

Digital dating

Some things never changeā€"even if the technology surrounding them does

By ROB KRIDER

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Two weeks ago, at precisely 7:41 p.m., my son suddenly hit the age where he has one thing and one thing only on his mind: girls. The day before, it was video games. Now it’s girls, girls, girls.

Of course, he doesn’t exactly understand these girls yet (not that any man really ever does). You see, he understands video games no problem. In video games, to duck down you hit O, to jump you hit A, and to blow someone’s head off you hit X. Girls aren’t that simple. If you want them to hold your hand, you don’t simply press a button. You have to spend weeks saying and doing all the right things; one wrong move, and you’re alone. It’s way easier to deal with a digital girl on the Xbox360 than have to try to figure out a carbon-based one.

But after a few nights of watching my son in the beginning stages of a relationship with his “real” girlfriend, I came to understand that through technology like texting (which goes on all night long) and Facebook, his “real” girlfriend was actually just like a video game. He never really spoke to her. He just punched keys on his phone or keys on his computer, and a few minutes later he would get a random digital response. I think I remember a toy that did this. It was called the Nano pet. It was a digital dog or cat that needed to be taken care of, loved, and fed, all of which was done by pressing buttons at certain times. My son actually owned one of these things about five years ago. He loved that thing. That is, until he forgot to feed it for a while and it died.

My son has found that his new digital pet is a bit more demanding. She wants to know why his status on Facebook says “single.” In his defense, he only got that Facebook page because she told him to, and he really had no idea that things like “single” or “in a relationship” meant anything. Nowadays, “in a relationship” on Facebook carries more meaning than a promise ring.

The funniest part about watching my son go through this transition is the fact that he can’t understand how I, his stupid dumb dad, know anything about it. He can’t figure out how I am aware that he is getting texts all night long—obviously he thinks I’m so old my hearing is already lost. He doesn’t know how to put his phone on vibrate, and I hear it blowing up at 11:30 at night. When these sort of simple tasks bewilder him (like how to conceal phone usage from his parents), I wonder how long he will survive his first complicated relationship (this one being complicated because, let’s face it, all relationships are complicated regardless of the 16 different methods of social media to make things even more confusing).

Obviously, because, in his eyes, I’m old as hell, I have no idea of the complex mechanism that is young love in the digital age. What do I know about girls? I’m married to his mother, my wife, whom I love: an old lady. He doesn’t understand how I could possibly relate to what he is going through. I’ve tried to explain to him that girls are girls, regardless of the decade. Their young female brains work something like this: butterfly pretty, unicorn magical, boyfriend cute, make-up expensive, love my stuffed animal, rock-n-roll song I like, I hate that song now, vampires are cool, ooh a new boy I like, wait, butterfly pretty. All of that happened in a 13-year-old-girl’s mind in the span of one minute.

My son wears his new “in a relationship status” proudly on his Facebook page, as well as in the carbon-based world for anyone in our house who will listen to him. The other day he jumped into the car after school and immediately announced, “I got in trouble for holding my girlfriend’s hand today!” It was the first time in human history a junior high school student voluntarily provided information to his parents that he got in trouble at school. Most parents have to wait until the principal calls or that letter comes in the mail: “Your son (who had his head up his butt today in class) was issued a detention.” Nope, not my son—he couldn’t wait to tell us he got in trouble by holding the real hand of his real girlfriend.

I said, “Congratulations. That was the first, but certainly not the last time, a girl will get you into trouble. Welcome to life with the opposite sex.”

For saying that to my son, I got in trouble with my wife: “Don’t bug him about the opposite sex. It embarrasses him.”

“See? Let that be an example to you. Your mom just joined the conversation two seconds ago, and I’m wrong already.”

Just as quick as my son’s digital relationship began, like a flick of the switch, it was over. He was dumped, by text, at 10:32 p.m. on a school night. Sure, it could be argued that dumping someone by text is pretty cold, but you have to remember that he initially asked her out by text, therefore the text dumping is really quite fitting. I was worried how he would be affected by the loss of his digital girlfriend. I remember when his Nano pet died; he was upset for at least 10 seconds. But in this situation, it took even less time. He jumped on his new Facebook page, quickly changed his status to “single,” and went right back to blowing people’s heads off on his Xbox360. Life was simple again; all he needed to do was press X.

Rob says: Bob Marley didn’t have a Facebook page, but he did understand relationships with females were complicated: “No Woman, No Cry.”




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