Him: I had the naughtiest dream about you last night!

Her: I dreamt about ponies!

Him: I guess we both got what we wanted! ;)

Technology has made so many aspects of our lives infinitely simpler.

Count flirting among them.

As mobile technologies and social networking become increasingly prevalent, people have embarked on this Brave New World of communication by totally hitting on their friends (and the friends of friends).

Ever leave a flirtatious Facebook photo comment, “poke” a crush or fire off a suggestive 3 a.m. text after ingesting enough Jägermeister to cripple a small yak?

You’re not alone, Casanova.

A report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggests that 22 per cent of Facebook and MySpace users are flirting up a storm. And those are just the ones who will openly admit to it.

So why is flirting-via-technology so enticing?

“People have become extremely reliant on technology and gadgetstoday,” says radio talk show host and flirting expert Susan McCord of beavertalk.com. “I think it’s basically due to accessibility andlaziness … it’seasier to just send (a text or email) than to have a long, drawn-out phone conversation.”

Sociology professor and relationships expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz of the University of Washington in Seattle offers another theory:

“Low exposure and vulnerability,” Schwartz explains. “(Flirting by way of technology is) a quick way to ‘test the waters.’ If someone doesn’t respond, it’s not as awkward as it would be face-to-face.”

So we’re all a bunch of yellow-bellied cowards. Basically.

Flirting via text, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter and other social media tools provides a safety barrier in case of rejection. We’re able to explore and escalate the desires of others in a detached fashion, making it a less personal way to get personal. (“I like you as a friend” stings far less when delivered in pixels.)

Hot, hot text can also be useful for pre-existing couples. It stokes the fires of long-distance or long-term relationships and serves as an extended form of foreplay.

“We often flirt-text when we’re both out for the evening,” says Jackie, a young professional who lives in Toronto. “While he’s out with the boys, I want him to be thinking of me, and not the short-skirted girl one table over.“

Textual innuendo is just a way of letting someone know that you’re looking forward to the next time you’ll be in the same physical space as them … or a casual way to attempt to infiltrate someone’s physical space in the first place. (Poke.)

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