Friday, May 14, 2010

Mail-order love is alive and well in the 21st century. It has moved into the electronic age with video chat and online dating where aspiring couples continents away can meet, fall in love and marry for papers.  Cynical?  Well, yeah, and you can check it out here on Romance Scams.  The Internet Bride and the Passport Marriage have become so common now that a whole website has been dedicated to all the ways they love you.  And so like the old X-Files theme, "I want to believe" is the answer to the reality check.

Internet dating, in fact, is quite popular and numerous websites like E-harmony, Speed-Dating and are devoted to it.  There are even internet dating coaches to help you navigate the world of electronic love.  Many claim it's the modern way that savvy young professionals with limited time sort through the flotsam and jetsam of the dating world to find their perfect mate.  People with baggage can make a cautious re-entry and people with no morals whatsoever can circle like sharks in wait of unsuspecting new fish. Some people must succeed because it continues, but I suspect a lot more people wish they'd never logged on.

Even before I came to Morocco, internet chat was a popular way for guys to meet foreign women in Morocco and even with the limited resources of Yahoo Messenger and no video and barely audible audio, there was a lot going on.  And even then, a lot of scamming was going on.  I remember sitting in an internet cafe one night while the guy next to me, with his wife on his knee, chatted a storm with several English and French-speaking chicks.  Chat boxes were popping up all over the screen.  I had to wonder, you know, if the wife had a clue or not.  She didn't seem to mind if she did.

I discovered guys would use the same chat log on and pretend they were all the same guy, sharing info, laughing at the questions they were asking to see what kind of response they could provoke.  They openly shared emails, information and traded stuff around, sent fake or barely visible photos to the beloved.  The unsuspecting gal on the other end may or may not have had a clue, but the sure thing was that they tried to convince her to come on over because they were so in love, had found their soul-mate in her, and unfortunately weren't able to go to her. Again, multiple boxes were popping up and several women were being wooed at the same time.

Once I went to a wedding where several of the older women commenced telling me about their foreign daughters-in-law, all working in Europe, and all the benefits they had gained through their sons' marriages to these women who they'd all met via internet or vacation tours.  All the sons were at the wedding having a good old time while these absent wives were fondly remembered for their financial and material contributions to the family.  I removed myself from the women's room as gracefully as possible and spent the rest of the night wandering around in no-man's land.

Just like I find it odd that the reason for a marriage might be taking a man out of Morocco to give him a boost in life, I find it odd that one would get into the situation of supporting a family with monthly payments, regular shipments of gifts and working abroad while the partner remains home (maybe internet dating with someone else?). 

Love is blind has a very literal meaning on the internet scene.

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