The eHarmony Diaries – Karel: Saying hello just got interesting

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Having suffered from the inscrutable affliction of terrible first impressions ever since I was a boy, I stumble over my words like a drunk falling out of a bar. I leave lingering memories of an awkward and rambling man in all those who I’ve met over the years. But salvation is on the horizon, as online dating is gradually becoming my cure.

If I’m lucky enough to string together a couple of semi-coherent sentences into a passable attempt of conversation, my greatest challenge, body language is often my downfall. From chin-wags with the neighbours on a sleepy Sunday morning, business buzzwords with the boss in the boardroom to small talk with your hairdresser, body language is a big part of how we converse and how we are being heard. But in the weird and wonderful world of online dating, where body language doesn’t exist, what is the etiquette of getting chatty on the Internet?

Surprisingly, unhindered by body language you can actually find yourself listening harder to what someone has to say. Freed from the shackles of worrying if someone’s either hanging off your every word or reaching for the door, you end up reading the content of what they say not how they said it. Combing through what they’ve said and importantly taking the time to create your reply, something we rarely do in day-to-day life. Which is especially apparent if you’re one of the few lucky people like me, to be blessed with the annoying gift of having a mind that’s running a few seconds behind their mouth.

Waiting for replies becomes like Christmas morning, each is a little present with your name on it, all wrapped up with a pretty bow on top. Getting entangled in exchanging messages can be addictive. The waiting becomes part of the enjoyment. Hearing the ding from an e-mail notification, and the subsequent frantic scramble to drop everything you’re doing and head over to unwrap your little present. Call me a romantic but the anticipation is palpable.

Those little actions that we do without even thinking, like the nod of a head, prolonged eye-contact, or a flick of hair tell a lot about our state of mind.  And in an online world where communicating is condensed into words on a screen, the challenge of having to read between those lines of subtle nuances evaporate away. From having to navigate the social landmines of conversation you are now transformed into a well-spoken and erudite individual. In a world without body language, communication is king.  And I am its emperor.


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