• Meet beauties online now

    (Photo by Jamie Street)

    I know a couple who are from wildly different places in different hemispheres. How did they meet? On the internet, of course. 

    If you’re old enough, the idea of meeting romantic partners online still has a frisson of mixed emotions. It feels a little risqué, but also a little taboo. 

    In my formative years, we viewed internet dating as the last resort of the sad and lonely, not a tool for the sexually active. 

    Some memories are persistent. 

    But the more you unpick them, the looser they become. 

    How did I meet my wife? At work, naturally. How did I meet my university friends? By going to university, unsurprisingly. How do I know my neighbours? By moving into the house next door, self-evidently. 

    Among my peers of the ‘old world’ of my teens, I think there was a sense that our relationships were pure and authentic, free of the dead hand of digital technology. 

    But of course, they were simply the result of older networks. Back then, you found your job in a newspaper ad. You found your university by being posted a prospectus. You found a house in a shop window. 

    Today, I wouldn’t dream of getting a job, enrolling on a course or finding a house without the aid of the internet. Why on earth would I narrow my search to only those places and resources I could physically reach? Absurd! 

    And so, my quaint old idea that internet love is the preserve of the desperate or the deviant is laid bare for what it is: a memory from another age. 

    Thank you for reading my thoughts… online. 

    Talking of t’internet, Are You A Smartphone Addict?

  • Are you a smartphone addict?

    The perfect smartphone burial pit

    Our household is having the zeitgeist conversation of the moment: how to manage smartphone addiction. 

    Then I got a lesson as if sent from heaven. My phone simply went missing. Was it a sign? Turns out it was, in a way. 

    iPhone found in pit

    I don’t know why I even looked, but as I took away the carefully constructed pile of planks and sticks that cover my son’s excavation hole in the garden, under the final layer I struck treasure – the back of my iPhone case nestled in the soil. 

    The frenzied search had lasted some time. I pieced together my movements like a detective at a crime scene. Finally I remembered. I had been standing in the garden while my son was playing…

    …browsing the BBC News app. Was it more important to know about the Australian elections than what my own son was doing in our back garden? Apparently. 

    His response had been to take it when my back was turned and bury it. 

    Smartphone containment

    No one seriously entertains the idea that mere mortals can ‘do an Ed Sheeran’ and simply get rid of it. We don’t have an army of Personal Assistants, armed with their own smartphones, to manage our lives for us. 

    But for all the necessity, most of our smartphone use is utterly luxurious – none of it has to happen, probably not for as long as it does, and we all know the apps are designed to keep us thumbing and scrolling. 

    You’re all caught up!

    Yes, I know. Apps like Instagram have fallen on their sword and started to tell us when we’ve literally seen every image in our feed once already and can probably switch it off. But it sure feels good to know it’s all done. I’m up to date!

    The next challenge for tech is to see if it can find a place in actually freeing us to live our lives alongside it. TV always had trouble with that – but TV couldn’t move with us, which limited its power. 

    Our pocket rockets have to find a long-term way of making us feel better. If they ultimately get in the way of real life, they’ll just be switched off.

    Or buried.

    Turns out kids can even teach us about words (shouldn’t that be the other way around?). Read my blog Lost and Found Words