October 17, 2011


In Shakespeare’s tragic/comic play, “Merchant of Venice” there is a song which asks:

                         “Tell me where is fancy bred,

                                Or in the heart, or in the head?”

The play’s story has many themes: What is true love? How does one tell artifice from disguise? And there is a fair warning about making judgments based upon appearance.

(Utah Shakespeare Festival)

I began thinking about the play and the song’s question as a few of my friends have recently ventured into the electronic world in search of love. Though the courting begins in virtual space, the hearts at stake are real and they bleed. I worry about these pairings, though one couple has already found happiness and the woman leaves soon for another state to begin a fresh life. I shall miss having her near enough to visit and share a cup of coffee, but I wish her well. Still, the courtship was so fast and so intense, I can only hope the virtual flame will become real.

Finding a mate across the miles is not new. Some women came to America as mail order brides and succeeded in creating permanent and happy homes. Seen in that light, electronic dating is anything but unique. But letters exchanged by transoceanic crossings took time, giving both parties weeks to consider. Things move a bit faster in the virtual realm. A hundred e-mails, crossing in milliseconds, can accelerate the feeling that people know each other. 

Of course, these acquaintances meet, at last, and form a more substantial opinion of the objects of their affection. But when the inclination to love is present, when the illusion has been formed, it is sometimes harder to see and it is fair to ask where fancy is bred.

Not wishing to play the curmudgeon, I send thoughts of hope to all the electronic lovers who wait for a “you’ve got mail,” message. But go slowly, slowly please.  As the Moroccan Prince in Shakespeare’s play learns, all that glisters is not gold.