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A Match Made in Cyberspace

Veena Thomas

The tools of the age-old dating game change with each passing decade. Perhaps no generation had it easier than the 1960s, with ubiquitous mood-altering drugs and free love. Skintight bell-bottoms certainly caught many a fellow’s eye in the 1970s. Nothing said “desirable” more effectively than the perfect business card in the 1980s. To have a chance for success, a yuppie needed a card in just the right shade of ecru, with the perfect typesetting and a watermark. (See “American Psycho.”) In the late 1990s, even the lowliest young adult could add instant sex appeal with a T-shirt, generic except for “Abercrombie” written across the chest. Put it on, and watch the opposite sex flock to you!

The 2000s mark the full integration of the Internet into the mating ritual. With a few helpful hints, soon every techno-savvy single college student will have an excuse not to spend Friday nights writing code.

First, master the art of the flirtatious e-mail. Always find yourself tongue-tied around the opposite sex? Afraid of saying the wrong thing to your crush? Carefully composed e-mails are your solution. E-mails to the object of your desire should be brief, yet witty. Keep him wanting more!

Strategically placed ellipses are essential to a flirtatious, yet suggestive e-mail. Try “It was really good to see you yesterday ...” if you’re new to this. As you become more confident in your e-mail skills, progress to “I can’t stop thinking about you ...” Once the attraction progresses sufficiently, nothing sends a message like “I’d love to have dinner with you on Friday. Afterwards we can have drinks at my place ...”

Emoticons can be useful to convey mood over e-mail, but should be used with caution. Limit your usage of =) to twice per e-mail. One or two make her feel warm and fuzzy inside, but three seem desperate. Use too many, and you risk her thinking you’re overly eager, or worse, that you’re 13. It’s far more attractive to play it cool. The same follows for exclamation points. Never use more than one in a row -- you don’t want her thinking you’re a hyperactive spaz, do you? Be suave, suggestive, and debonair. Once you send her that first tantalizing e-mail, the ball is in her court.

Don’t worry if she doesn’t respond right away. She’s obviously a very busy woman who’s so involved with her many activities that she hasn’t gotten your e-mail yet. You should be so lucky that she schedules time on her Palm Pilot to reply to your e-mail. Don’t sit waiting by your computer for her to respond; keep up the impression that if she’s busy, so are you. Careful, though -- the delay may come from her being busy or from her conducting a background check on you. In the olden days, people had to hire private detectives to obtain inside information about their lust object. The Web makes it easy for you to do the same thing for free in the privacy of your room. Not really sure about that guy from class who just e-mailed you? Type his name in any major search engine (Google.com is extremely comprehensive) and see what it returns. Often this will give you an inside look at what rocks his world. Find out which clubs he’s joined. If you find a common interest, drop it in conversation. “Oh, I just love snowboarding/basket weaving/80s music/Dawson’s Creek. Don’t you?” This will give you an immediate “in” and convince him that you two are soulmates.

While you wait for her to e-mail you, she may be checking out your Web site. Make sure it sends the right message about yourself. Like your perfectly composed e-mail, your web site should be intriguing, yet mysterious; seductive, yet restrained. Avoid spilling all personal details about yourself on your site; make her come to you if she wants to know more!

Even if you don’t like Web sites, put up something. Not having a site may mark you as behind the times. Something as simple as contact information and a few choice links in a sexy font may lead to her clicking on that mailto: link.

While your site should be well-designed, make sure it’s not overly comprehensive. Too many pages about your high school math team marks you as someone who lives in the past and has nothing better to do than write HTML all day. Furthermore, don’t let half-finished “under construction” pages languish for too long; they demonstrate a fear of commitment. For the die-hard stalkers, a counter that provides statistics will let you know if she’s seen your web page. If you catch her checking your page every day, chances are she’s into you. To keep her guessing, find a way to nonchalantly slip her name into your Web site. If you really like her and don’t mind being forward, link to her site. (Careful: If you’ve never spoken to her before, this might scare her off.) But most importantly, write your web page from scratch. What if she checks your source code and realizes you don’t know HTML? The relationship could be over before it ever began.

Should you put a picture of yourself on your Web site? Hopefully she’s already seen you in person. But the great part about the Internet is that unlike in real life, people can only see what you choose to post. If you have a particularly flattering picture of yourself, put it up. She might forget your usual overworked, scruffy appearance and suddenly become mad with desire for you. One word of caution: It’s called the World Wide Web for a reason. If you have a picture of yourself on your page, you risk receiving e-mails from strangers saying “I don’t speak English very well, but your photo is not a language... my eyes understand all the pixels...” Following your tantalizing e-mail and your mysterious web site, how can your crush not reply? Once he does, remember: be charming and flirtatious.

Pretty soon, you both can take the next big step -- going out on a real date. Just don’t be surprised if he invites you up for drinks afterwards ...