Rendered secretive and personal, it seemed to invite addictive or compulsive behaviour – something to brush even further under the carpet than the new that you were using it at all.
Kate Bush’s powerful image of the lonely heart drinking in the computer’s artificial intimacy conjures up these feelings of shame – a feeling perhaps compounded by the idea that using technology to help meet people ironically deepened your social alienation.
The perception was that you must be lacking in some way to require it; the “natural” system of mutual chemistry couldn’t work because something was wrong with you.
But then social media came along and blurred the lines between the personal and the social, the celebratory and the embarrassing.
The assumption (though hardly rock-solid) that mediated dating signified failure was reversed.
This unconsciously built upon 1980s matchmakers’ marketing spiel that desirable people were single not because of a lack of appeal, but because of a lack of time.