Computer dating has been around longer than most people think. How do I know? I was part of an experiment back when I was in college for the first time. If memory serves—and it doesn’t always these days—it was 1976. I was walking through the student center at my university where I passed a table behind which sat a couple of people about my age.
“Do you want to try computer dating?” one asked hopefully.
Now, the word computer was not yet part of everyday lexicon back then, so I wasn’t sure what they wanted. Still, I dutifully filled out the form, identifying my likes and dislikes, hobbies and future plans. Then I walked away and forgot about it.
Historically speaking, computer dating has been around since 1965 when a couple of undergraduate Harvard brainiacs came up with the idea and charged fellow students $3 a pop. Today, about 40 million Americans are looking for love on the Internet, people of all ages. Not surprisingly, 18-to-29-year-olds are the most likely to participate, especially since all those dating apps are available on their smart phones. But 16% of those 50 and older are scrolling to the left, as well.
If you’re a dating traditionalist, you’re probably now scoffing at the idea that one might meet a suitable mate via myriad mouse clicks, but try not to be judgmental. Note that 54% of Americans say the relationships they started on line were just as successful as those that began in person.
That’s not to say that computer dating doesn’t have it’s drawbacks. I’m looking at the folks who doctor their images so drastically that they look nothing like them in person. And those who, let’s say, over-inflate their skills, talents, or financial status. Dating bios can be rather Facebooky, where people gush about their perfect children, fabulous career, massive house, and pets that don’t shed or claw the furniture. Methinks a little authenticity might alleviate some of those awkward, initial in-person meetings.
My sweetie pie and I have discussed what might happen when one of us shuffles off this mortal coil.
“Please, go find someone else if I die,” I said to Ryan.
“No! After you, I’m done.”
“Aren’t you sweet! But really…”
He shook his head.
“I know I’m hard to replace, but…”
“I’m never dating again!”
I know what’s discouraged him. The kids, all in their twenties now, have shared outrageous tales wrought by computer dating, some funny, some downright scary. Still, none of them seem put off by the process that has changed substantially since 1976, when there were no photos or bios to scrutinize. Instead, the computer worked it’s magic, sorting through my application answers in an effort to spit out my perfect, on-campus mate.
The results, by the way, were laughable. Now, I’m not saying computers are stupid. (Gosh, I don’t want some rogue AI taking me out for my insolence.) Still, my brush with computer dating didn’t turn out the way I expected. Who had the machine chosen as my perfect match? A young man named Greg who I loathed. I thought he was an ass and the feeling was obviously mutual. I can still see his face after we both got the news.
Clearly, no date ever occurred. And yet, since I’m not all that smart, I sometimes wonder what the computer saw that I didn’t. I don’t recall much about Greg, except that I found him insufferable. But was he the perfect match for me?
Luckily, I’ve never bought into that soulmate silliness. I mean, come on, with almost eight billion people on the planet, I’m pretty sure I could live happily ever after with maybe 100,000 them.
Then again, could Greg be one of the 100,000? I’m guessing I’ll never know.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
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