Burriss: 'Wired love' nothing new

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 I was reading a book recently about on-line romance.  Everything, well, almost everything, was there.  Two people communicating electronically; cryptic abbreviations understandable only by the initiated; questions about the real identity of the person at the other end of the line. 

 The book even takes time to describe how the electronic system works, considering how new the idea of on-line communication was. 

The name of the book is "Wired Love," and the date:  1880.  That's right, a book written in 1880 that almost perfectly describes on-line dating.  But the book isn't science fiction, like Jules Verne describing fantastical inventions far in the future.  It's the story of people using the telegraph to conduct anonymous, long-distance romances the same way we use text messages and e-mails.

If you didn't know any better, you would think the writer, Ella Cheever Thayer, was trying to write a Victorian-sounding book about modern technology, in a steam-punk kind of way.  The language is certainly quaint, but the concepts are almost purely 21st century.

 Of course, there are some problems:  the main character, Nattie, complains that transmissions beyond 50 miles or so must be retransmitted by another telegraph operator, but then again, e-mails and text messages often have to be re-routed.  And she comments that nothing had yet been invented that would allow you to see the expression on someone else's face at a distance.

 Maybe "Wired Love" should be required reading by all of those teenagers who think they have latched onto the latest and greatest technology.  But, then again, maybe they would think that's how we actually courted…um, how we actually dated.

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Larry Burriss
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