The Language Text of Love

By Ryan Mink
Tuesday, September 18, 2007; 11:15 AM

In her Outlook article "Rule of Thumbs," Natalie Y. Moore explored the pitfalls of love in the age of technology. But while technology can be abused, as Moore argues, it can also help us get to know one another more easily. I know this from personal experience.

I'm an old-fashioned romancer. I hold doors, I pay for meals, I buy flowers. So I had resisted this movement from poems to e-mails and whispers to voicemails. Technologically, I am also old-fashioned. I didn't have a cell phone until a few years ago, for instance, and even then I didn't sign up for a text-messaging plan until a few months ago. As my friend Mike told me, "If you're going to be hooking up with a girl, you have to have text messaging."

I thought it sounded a little crude at the time. But I soon understood what he meant.

I met Kristin in late June. I was dropping off a co-worker at a local bar so he could meet a date. He walked into the bar, wind-blown and a little scared from the motorcycle ride up I-295, and told of his harrowing trip. When his date realized I had a motorcycle, she saw double-date potential.

That's the night Kristin met me -- or at least the online version of me. Kristin and her friend went directly to Facebook, because as we all know there is no truer indication of a person's character than his or her "About Me" section in Facebook and the accompanying drunk photo albums.

Next they wandered to my website, ryanmink.com, to round out what Facebook had already confirmed. They watched a silly video of me slam-dunking on a miniature Little Tikes hoop, and that's what sold her.

The next day my co-worker told me he knew a girl who was interested in meeting me. My reaction was almost instantaneous: What's her name so I can check her out on Facebook?

I went online and pored over nearly 100 pictures, laughing at her captions and poses. I learned a lot from this expedition, and told my co-worker I was interested. Seconds later, he relayed the message to her on Instant Messenger. A double date was set for later that week.

But I couldn't wait that long. So, brash man that I am, I asked for her screen name -- and an hour later I IM-ed her. Our first conversation was contained to a box that blinks when somebody has something to say.

The next day I IM-ed her to ask if she wanted to go on a motorcycle ride. We went on an eight-hour trip the next day. Three weeks later, we said "I love you" for the first time in person. The next day, I got a text message on my way to work:

So I'm on Facebook, and I'm thinking it's probably about time we became official ¿ on Facebook and in general. So, I'm yours! (But you already knew that!) I love you!

Actually, I didn't know that. But it was welcome news. I quickly tapped out a response:

this day could not get much better :) I love you!!

That's right, there's a smiley face and two exclamation points in there.

So what's the lesson here? Besides the fact that I have now learned to use emoticons? I think it's that 21st-century angst isn't that much different than angst in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who used to worry that she wrote to many letters to her beloved. Now those letters reach their recipients much more quickly, which can have its drawbacks.

But there's no going back. If you don't respond to a Facebook wall-posting, there's will be an e-mail waiting. If that doesn't get your attention, there's a text message. If that doesn't get a hasty answer, there's a call. If your cell phone is off, there will be a voice mail wating. And if you don't respond to or acknowledge the voicemail -- well, there's a serious discussion coming your way.

For my relationship, this constant contact has been a good thing. We have learned more about each other in two months than most of our friends have come to know about us in a lifetime. Because of that, we love each other more -- and we tell each other so all the time. In person, even.

Still, when I get a text message at work saying, "I love you!!!" with three, -- count 'em, three! -- exclamation points, it makes me smile. You can never have too much of a good thing.

Ryan Mink covers high school sports for The Post.


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