Romance along the Information Trail


August 06, 1993|By JAMES SKINNER

Cable TV with 500 channels is coming. It promises to let you tuck your child into bed from across the country, pay tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike without slowing down, conduct your business from a lounge chair on a pristine Caribbean beach. The new technology is definitely on the way and, amazingly, it will in all likelihood actually live up to the media hype.

-- with a few --es and a ''greater than'' arrow.

By getting down to the basics of human communication, many people find they can connect with others in what might be called a very primal way. They talk about their experiences, their interests, their hopes and fears. By tapping into a nationwide network with potentially thousands of respondents, they are able to find people with similar interests. How many people do you run across in your daily life who share a passion for Jimmy Buffet's music and books? On Delphi, for example, you can quickly locate dozens of such individuals, all in one convenient place.

Finding people with compatible interests in such an an environment can lead to deeper relationships. Many couples who have communicated with each other via ''E-mail'' have subsequently met, fallen in love and gotten married. They never knew of each other's existence until they connected electronically, often from opposite ends of the country.

Still, I fear that with the arrival of the information superhighway, some of the charm of this form of communication may be lost. As television did away with the daydreams inspired by radio drama, so the new era of instant voice and video communication may do away with the intriguing suggestiveness of ''E-mail's'' written format. There's a certain charm in using one's imagination to evoke the power of words, as opposed to being bombarded by images.

If ''E-mail'' goes the way of AM radio, I'll certainly miss it. But until then you'll find me chatting away, as always, with a :).

James Skinner can be reached at his electronic mailbox address: JIMFLEXELPHI.COM.

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