"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Online Dating : Thomas Jefferson and George Washington GiveTwo Thumbs Up

People often complain that technology is “taking over our lives”, as if that were a novel statement of the 21st century. But technology has always been an integral part of the American life. How do you think the Founders got to America? Technology. How do you think they invented McDonalds? Technology. And how do you think they courted the ladies? Well, to give you a hint, it wasn’t with the “traditional” flowers and chocolate. Yes, the Founding Fathers tied down their Founding Mothers with the help of technology.

The only difference between how George wooed Martha and how Justin Bieber made Selena Gomez his ‘Baby’ is the speed of their technological flirting. Today you can virtually poke your crush in a matter of seconds on Facebook; but it once took John Adams 7 months to poke Abigail, as his poke traveled via a carrier pigeon that got lost during the harsh winter months. Upon its arrival at Abby’s residence, the pigeon literally poked her in the face with its beak and she responded by sending John a friend request, which he accepted 3 months later. They eventually upgraded their correspondence to full messages, until one day when John sent her a marriage request and they no longer needed technology to communicate their love.

Even a seemingly “traditional” man like George Washington admits he relied on technology to find love:

“Human happiness and eHarmony are inseparably connected.”
-George Washington, on how he met Martha, 1780

“Text messages, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of lovers.”
-George Washington, on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Virtual Relationships, 1782

Despite our breadth of knowledge at Lost and Founders, it wasn’t until recently that we discovered these similarities in technological dating rituals throughout the years. It started when we uncovered what would be the precursor to an Instant Message conversation, between Thomas Jefferson and Martha Wayles, recorded on a piece of parchment:

TJ (22 Jan 1770): Hey
LilMartha48 (4 March 1770) Hi.
TJ (17 August 1770): What is up?
LilMartha48 (1 October 1770): n2mjwabastpr [we still have yet to decipher this acronym]
TJ (15 December 1770): Sweet
LilMartha48 (7 February 1771): How’s Monticello?
TJ (10 March 1771): Gr8. Want to see a pic?
LilMartha48 (14 May 1771): Sure
TJ (19 August 1771): Here...I drew it myself.
LilMartha48 (28 October 1771): Kool. Can’t w8 to c in person.
The Jefferson’s were married just two months later on January 1, 1772 - and to think it all started with this AIM-like conversation.

So if you’ve ever been one to complain about the supposed demise of traditional courtship, you’re not the only one. Even the Founding Fathers lamented the resort to technological communication in dating. But technology has always facilitated romance. The only thing that has changed is how quickly you can say Ok to Cupid.

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