In our last dual blog article, Natriya @20 and Kim @51 found common ground discussing the pros and cons of cell phones while traveling. 

What about cell phones and dating? Helpful? Hurtful? Or both?

Has modern technology helped or hurt our chances for finding love?

Kim @51

My husband and I met in 1985 when our push button Trimline or Princess phones were plugged into the wall and our voice mail was recorded on cassette tapes. We used two fingers to press down on our recorders to make each other mix-tapes and when dating long distance, one summer, our communication was limited to very expensive and infrequent toll calls sometimes made on pay phones!

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

Natriya @20

When I first meet someone that I connect with, I will probably look them up online- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — you name it. Internet stalking is real, my friends, and honestly, I’m not even ashamed. We all do it and we never really want to talk about it.

The conversation-starter that would never happen:

“By the way, I totally saw that you celebrated your dog’s birthday a couple of weeks ago in Santa Monica on your Instagram. Super cute post. I definitely showed my friends when they asked me what you looked like.”

You just can’t say that when you’re beginning to get to know someone.

And we have to be so careful to never accidentally press that heart button when we’re diving deep into their Instagram history. (It’s a fatal move… for your pride.)

Kim @51

Wow! Come to think of it…how did we vet or stalk a potential romantic partner back in the day? We asked around. This meant calling your cousin’s college roommate for some “dirt” on the blind date you were about to meet at the local bar. Yes, we had to go to real physical spaces to pick up someone (or in today’s language, hook-up). For singles over 50 who are used to meeting in person, the world of online dating can be overwhelming. In fact, I was reading a really interesting blog recently on Huff Post written by Dianne Gratton who created Dating Over Dinner events for Boston singles age 45+. In her blog, she wrote about why one of her clients prefers her dinner events over online dating. 

“He could be introduced to single women in person, shake their hand and instantly get a sense of physical chemistry…The in-real-life approach to meeting people still has very clear advantages, it just isn’t the current popular method.” 

How common is it to meet someone face to face today (and I don’t mean FaceTime)?

Natriya @20

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to hear that a couple met online or through social media. With that, flirting or just “talking” to someone for a few weeks before really engaging on one-on-one or face-to-face interaction is also a part of the grey area in between friends and dating. I think that our generation often lingers in this grey area pretty long before becoming really serious in a relationship. In this day and age, you can get away with a lot, and I feel like it’s definitely more casual.

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Talking through a screen is a lot different than talking in real life. You lose that genuine, raw emotion that you experience when seeing someone’s face light up, or seeing how they truly react to something you say. In today’s world, texts get thrown out of context and social media can cause so many misunderstandings and drama.

Kim @51

There was no shortage of drama in the 80s and 90s! I remember times when my shoulder pads got all up in a bunch because my friend and I spotted the same guy at the Troubadour and she approached him before I did! I guess today that would be the same as someone texting a guy you like before you get a chance to text him.

Natriya @20

There’s a lot of weird boundaries that you just wouldn’t–or rather, shouldn’t–touch when it comes to unspoken rules. Everything is more accessible and visual now. You can find out someone’s followers, who they’re following, and what they’re doing on social media in general. This can lead to a lot of awkward situations and I’ve definitely had my fill of them. When a couple of friends of mine just started dating, I saw a yellow heart next to my guy friend’s name on Snapchat. Once I saw the yellow heart (which shows that two users are “best friends” on the app– and have been consistently communicating with each other) it made me feel incredibly awkward. This small blip on my social media radar turned into a nerve-wracking (and anticlimactic) conversation. I explained to my girl friend that I was feeling guilty for some reason. It really wasn’t anything that I should have worried about. Because I felt like I violated their digital “relationship” while keeping up with my friendship, it made me worry that I did something wrong. Of course, it wasn’t a big deal and she actually laughed at me for worrying so much — but, the fact that it did have that sort of effect is a scary thing.

Kim @51

Whether it is romance or travel, it is true that cell phones can connect us and at the same time make us feel disconnected.

Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

It always come back to balance. Having FaceTime in the 80s and 90s would have helped me a lot with my long distance romance. In 2017, sitting across from my husband on date night while he sends that “last, really important” email is a bit disheartening and let’s face it – mostly annoying! There is no question that we have a strong reliance on technology – the key is mindfulness and finding the right moments to disconnect from our devices.

At lilspace we encourage people to unplug and live in the here and now. Natriya and I are talking face to face about these topics. Let’s all continue the conversation which, by the way, keeps us connected!


  • Kim Anenberg Cavallo

    Executive Director, Founder

    Unplug Collaborative, Lilspace

    Kim first became aware of the downside of mobile technology when she found herself in the bathroom of a yoga studio in 2015 reading her emails instead of participating in the class. In between anxious impulses to check her phone, she built a digital wellness company, lilspace, and the Unplug for a Cause® Timer app that was launched in 2018. Since then, Kim and her team have worked with educators in bringing unplugging challenges to schools and other youth communities across the United States. Before turning her focus to the intersection of digital wellness and social impact, Kim spent 25 years raising money and connecting people to non-profit causes and creating educational, arts and culture programs in and around Los Angeles. Kim recently took on the role of Executive Director of Unplug Collaborative, home of National Day of Unplugging where she is part of a team distributing free resources to organizers who want their communities to get healthier with technology. When Kim puts away her phone, she loves to spend time with her husband + 2 adult sons, doing yoga and traveling.