How Technology Is Changing Romance: A Reverse Chronological History of Hand-Wringing


On every Valentine’s Day for the past decade or so, like clockwork (because that’s how time works), every single news outlet on earth has run some version of the same story: “Is technology changing the way we love?” Technology, you see, is a fancy word for “new stuff”—and with new stuff comes new ways of doing stuff. Stuff like bang-a-thons! And telling someone you like their hair! And sexual harassment! And wedding bells! But what will become of us as a species, now that sweet nothings can be transmitted instantaneously via text message, rather than in totally inconvenient handwritten notes delivered by a dude on a fucking pony three months later? We might as well scrub the word “love” from the dictionary if people aren’t delivering erotic poetry on ponyback anymore. Clearly romance is dead and we shall all go extinct.

This year, of course, is no different when it comes to silly hand-wringing filler. CNN has a round-up of “How technology has changed romance,” featuring insights from actual teenagers (on the front lines in the Boner War!) about how “a new generation is adopting digital models for romantic communication,” e-mail is pretty cool, and “mystery” is dead. It’s a lot like this article, from 2011. Or this one, from 2009. Or this one, from 2012. Or this one, which CNN ran one year ago. Or this one. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or thiiiiiiiiis.

Most of the articles come to the same conclusion: Technology isn’t ruining romance, it’s just altering what romance looks like. To which I have to say…a-duuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So if we’re just pounding away at the same point over and over again—technology changes stuff, kind of!—then what is the actual point?

I guess the point is that the only thing we love more than new technology is freaking the fuck out about new technology. It’s a tale as old as time—so let’s take a look back at Great Moments in Technological-Romantic Hand-Wringing Throughout History:


“If we can see each other’s faces and converse through a screen, then what’s the point of meeting in person at all ever!? AS SOON AS THEY CREATE A DONG-TUBE FOR MY LAPTOP, BABIES WILL BE ABOLISHED.”

“The words written in the phone are worse words than the other words written in the computer or the ones you do with your mouth! Love is a lie!”

“How are we going to fit entire erotic poems into 140 characters? I still have so much I want to say about you getting on your knees and accepting my power into all your peaks, valleys, and cracks.”

“It’s really hard to express your true feelings to your lover when you have no idea what the fuck this thing is.”

“Having instant access to the photographs and private insights of loved ones has really cheapened my relationship. It’s not like in the old days, when you’d get drunk with your neighbor and she’d take a bunch of romantic pictures of you with your significant other and then you’d romantically wait months for her to get them developed and then she’d romantically literally never fucking do it and then she’d move. So romantic.”


“Uuuuuuuugh, I miss paper cuts and waiting.”


“Uuuuuuuugh, I miss having to physically go to a place to talk to a person. Because what is love without the possibility of dying in a wagon fire?”


“I guess I could use one of them new-fangled telegraph machines, but I prefer to contact my lovers the civilized way—via singing dandy.”

Pony Express
“So, not only do you not come here in person, you don’t even have the decency to send a full-size horse? You have wounded me deeply, sir. (Though I do appreciate the reintroduction of feces into my romantic correspondence. Delightfully old-fashioned.)”

100 BC – 1850s:

Just having a guy who works for you walk over to someone else’s house and hand them a note
“I don’t trust you, Kevin.”

200 BC:

Invention of paper
“But how will I know our love is permanent if it isn’t chiseled into a marble tablet by my army of slaves?”

8,000 BC – 300 BC:

Chiseling some shit on a rock
“There’s something so impersonal about communication that doesn’t involve any blood or fecal matter.”

38,000 BC – 10,000 BC:

Writing on a cave wall in your poop
” 8===> – — ( |i| )”

2.5 million BC – 38,000 BC:

Grunts and genital displays

3.6 billion BC – 2.5 million BC:

Crawling out of the primordial soup
“When you reproduce asexually you are never lonely. This is bullshit.”

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