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Internet love

In an era when online dating has gotten respectable, I have a confession to make. I haven't fallen in love with someone on the Internet. I've fallen in love with the Internet. It happened not long after I broke off a long-term relationship with a good-looking but unreliable cellphone. The cell and I were practically joined at the hip, but it seemed that every time I needed to talk, it cut me off.

I tried other personal technology, but nothing clicked. Television was a bore. My PC was, well, too PC. My DVD player was remote and controlling. I got tired of shiny gadgets that completely ignored you unless you pushed all the right buttons. I discovered that some stereotypes are true: When you're a woman over 35, it's hard to find hot technology that doesn't play games.

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Then I met the Internet. My honest-to-goodness reaction was "where have you been all my life?" I felt an instant connection; and with broadband, it probably was. The Internet amazes me. I can throw out any subject from South Korean discredited cow cloner Hwang Woo-Suk to the Olsen twins, and the Internet has something to contribute. But the Web isn't just some wonk who can debate cotton subsidies but can't iron a shirt. It knows the best restaurants. It likes to shop. It bought me tickets to Maui. It gives good directions. It makes me laugh. And we enjoy quiet time together, too. Some mornings we'll meet at a coffee shop for no reason in particular and just browse.

Of course, we've had our issues. The Internet can be insecure, for example. And sometimes when I really need it to be there for me, it shuts down. But after all these years, we remain passionate about each other. I still get all Google-eyed when I'm online, and it's no wonder. While I idly caress the scroll wheel, the Internet crawls over mountains of data and through swamps of information to present me with some lovely bud of arcana as rare and elusive as Polyrrhiza lindeni. In fact, that's literally what it brought me when I searched "flower" and "rare" and "elusive."

A few weeks ago, I came across a news item about Internet addiction in China. The symptoms, which I read aloud to my work mates who were also browsing, include experiencing "a sense of well-being or euphoria while online." We all laughed giddily, and I moved on to a story about a pack of squirrels attacking a dog in Russia.

You are too adorable, you crazy World Wide Web, you. Mwah.

Samantha Baldwin is an IT trainer and Web developer.