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Love and keyboards

One more thought on the changes that digital communications have wrought on old-fashioned romance, and the hand-wringing commentary that emerges mostly from conservative quarters: We're seeing, in part, the conflict between social conservatism to economic conservatism. Old modes of courtship are giving way to a faster, freer, fairer market, where transaction costs have fallen and participants have better information and competition is fiercer. In this market, supposedly rational actors make supposedly rational decisions and then reap the rewards or bear the consequences. New technologies such as cellphones and online dating are helping the market overwhelm older, less "efficient" norms.

In the aggregate, that's good. The world in which your parents chose a mate, or in which you hopefully met someone at a mixer, didn't work well for the person with socially inattentive parents or poor dance skills. People date differently, and a world with more options is better for more people than a world with less options. But people worry about this market for the same reason they worry about financial markets, and for the same reason they weren't satisfied with the old ways. It doesn't matter how efficient the transactions, how full the information, how robust the competition and how involved the community. The central actors here are still human beings, and they have a tendency to screw up even the best plans.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 4, 2009; 12:39 PM ET
 
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Comments

"people worry about this market for the same reason they worry about financial markets..."

Overleveraged daters who buy up tranches of repackaged bad dates will get hit with margin calls they can't make, causing a collapse of credit and the worldwide dating market?

Posted by: Sophomore | November 4, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Before I read your post I thought Brooks's article was inane.

Then you said that you and your current girlfriend tweeted (or something) together over Iron Chef. Iron Chef, for God's sake. Disgusting. Brooks is definitely on to something here.

I met my wife at a party. We both got pretty toasted. We're still together these many years later. You and your ironic chef-mate, however, are doomed.

Posted by: ostap666 | November 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@Sophomore wins the internets!

I like the way the French date - they go out in groups. That way there's always a fallback plan and no awkward ride home if things don't go so well.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | November 4, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I think it is much more common these days to meet someone who's on exactly the same wavelength as you. Every now and then I run across a blogger like that.

I doubt whether it would lead to a better relationship however. I met my wife pretty randomly. We don't have the same attitude toward life (she gets too happy sometimes) but we get along great nonetheless.

Posted by: bmull | November 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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