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My girlfriend and I are addicted to Google

My girlfriend and I are addicted to Google

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A story about loving via the internet. By Terence Lee and his non-tech significant other.

I KNEW something was wrong with me when my girlfriend prefers to fondle her iPhone rather than my stubbled chin.

In truth, our relationship had lost much of its previous flair: We started off by chatting two to three hours a day on MSN Messenger, especially when I was in lectures – which, by the way, totally explained my pathetic 3.3 GPA in my first semester of school. Phone conversations were an afterthought.

Nowadays, we’ve become too lazy to even talk on a dedicated chat software, preferring instead Gmail’s chat function, which meant I could type an email to my boring university lecturer and talk to my girlfriend at the same time.

Remember those cute little cards filled with cut-out hearts that you would make for your boyfriend as an expression of your unyielding love? We’ve ditched them, preferring instead to send free, animated e-cards to one another because we’re lazy and cheap.

Gone also are the days of calling my girlfriend to plan the time and place for our next date. We share our Google Calendars and sync them to our smartphones just so we can keep tabs on one another – which means she’ll question me endlessly if she finds a blank slot.

We also share a Google Doc where we create a list of places and restaurants we’d like to visit next. Most of them are culled from hungrygowhere.com, a good place to find out about the latest food joints without needing to ask a single person.

So what happens when we want to go somewhere but find ourselves lost? Well, Google Maps takes care of that. You can even key in your destination and Google will take you there, listing out three to four alternatives just for fun. There is no more approaching strangers who might point you in the wrong direction.

To be honest, I was happy with this state of affairs for a while.

But here’s the problem: All that spontaneity is lost. We’ve become a two-person tour group, where every date is a planned programme.

We’ve surrendered all elements of surprise to the meticulousness of our clever phones, and gave up on the notion of exploring the urban jungle like a modern Tarzan and Jane, who may just happen to stumble upon an obscure ramen store in Bugis or an old-school comic book store in Chinatown.

I read once about a journalist who outsourced his life to a personal assistant in India: He even got the assistant to apologise to his wife for an offense – via email.

I did one better: By relying on the omnipresent Google, I did not have to pay a single cent. I let slave machines do the thinking, instead of a foreign assistant dividing her time between work and boyfriend.

So this brings us back to my girlfriend’s love affair with her shiny iPhone – which she named Finna, by the way. Finna was always by her side, whereas she would be lucky to get a two-hour audience from me all week. Which was why I faded into irrelevance.

Faced with this crisis, I decided many weeks ago to set in motion a devious plan that would win her back, a plan concocted in Germany by one Klaus Teuber.

Sounds familiar? Maybe not. He’s the inventor of Settlers of Catan, a rather popular board game that has sold 15 million copies worldwide. So I recently bought the game for my girlfriend.

Yes, a board game made of actual cardboard paper and plastic game pieces, not some pixelated crap invented by a geeky software engineer in Silicon Valley. Settlers is a game created in love; Klaus mentioned that his main aim of inventing board games is to amuse his bored wife.

The plan worked like a charm. We played Settlers with my mum and brother when she came to my place. We yelped in amusement whenever someone was penalised or on the verge of victory. What would have been a sleepy Sunday afternoon turned into a time of genuine bonding.

And most importantly, I snatched her from the likes of tech kingpins like Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt, who obviously prefer that the world interact behind a computer screen, like their anti-social selves.

So friends, here’s a secret to rekindling your pathetic, dying relationships: Play a board game together. You won’t get that from any romance guru.

An edited version of this article was published on the Nanyang Chronicle.