How I got a wife for Christmas

This past holiday season, in a long-anticipated but still remarkable turn of events, I got a wife for Christmas. Well, strictly speaking, I have had a wife for more than four years, by now.

This past holiday season, in a long-anticipated but still remarkable turn of events, I got a wife for Christmas.

Well, strictly speaking, I have had a wife for more than four years, by now. But, what with her course of professional studies in Brazil and the requirements of Immigration Canada, it was only on December 18th she finally arrived in the country, with her permanent residence status, at 2 a.m., and at 35 below.

Under normal circumstances, the nature of my domestic life is neither of interest to, nor any business of, my newspaper readership; I mention it in this instance only because my current situation is the product of internet technology in a way that was groundbreaking even as little as five years ago, but is now becoming commonplace – an “online” relationship that has burgeoned into conventional marriage.

As online relationships go, the one between me and my wife is probably unusual mostly in its long duration: We have been e-mailing, voice and text chatting and occasionally voice chatting since the winter of 2002.

And herein lies my tale: The changes we both have seen in the technological ease of conducting such a relationship, and the increasing public acceptance of that kind of such relationships.

Though I am gregarious my nature, I have always been a reluctant and largely passive player in the online social networking scene.

I have a Facebook page on which I post comments or photos only very rarely, a MySpace page on which I have never posted anything at all; a Linked-in account on which I sometimes accept friendship invitations but never generate any; and a account on which I post only my old Tech @ Work articles.

In the dark, primeval days of 2002, I cut even less of an online presence, and what presence I had was largely a product of my professional obligations as the manager of a small internet service provider company.

One of my duties there was user support, and that meant being familiar with the more popular programs and services my customers were using.

It was that professional commitment that led me to playing around with PowWow, the defunct and now long-forgotten granddaddy of all chat programs. That, in turn, morphed into learning about the ICQ chat program – a pioneering program that once dominated the internet chat scene, but has since lapsed into a minority position.

It was in the course of learning about these programs that I rather haphazardly picked up a number of local, national and international friends and acquaintances. And it was as a casual ICQ acquaintance, with whom I shared an interest in South American and other literature, that I first began ICQ conversations with the woman who is now my wife.

Chat programs in those days were still pretty primitive affairs. There was some small provision for sending each other files, but no means for sharing photos, or voice or video communication. When my wife and I wanted to share and discuss, say, a given piece of music, we would have to separately cue it up on our CD players, count down together, then fire up the players more or less simultaneously.

Sharing photos and larger files was accomplished by uploading them to the folders included in our Yahoo profile accounts (another service that is now defunct), or by using free file transfer protocol (FTP) websites on the internet – pretty nerdy stuff, all in all, and hardly the stuff of romantic spontaneity.

That my wife and I kept it up, over all these years, is a testament to the power of our shared interest and the extent of our long-suffering nerdiness.

Now that we are non-virtually co-located at last, however, I am reverting to type and drifting out of the online chat scene.

For my wife, though, with her friends and family in now-distant Brazil, chat functionality is if anything more important than ever.

Fortunately, though, it is also easier to manage than it was in the old days.

My wife now routinely uses the Yahoo chat program to talk each day or second day with her mother in Brazil, using text, voice and video chat. She also routinely uses the Yahoo chat program to show her mother photos of this strange new world her daughter has landed herself in.

Her mother needed a little training to get used to using this kind of communication, but nothing like the range of computer-geek skills my wife and I had to deploy in the old days.

In fact, it is the increasing ease and ubiquity of this kind of communication that is gradually eroding the stigma of “weirdness” that used to be attached to “online” relationships.

According to one study I read about recently (though I cannot vouch for its accuracy), something like 40 per cent of the young couples who get together in the physical world these days first got to know each other on the internet.

My wife and I, it seems, were inadvertent pioneers in what is now rapidly becoming settled territory.

Perhaps it is only fitting that we hang up our trailblazing axes and trailbreaking snowshoes and just get comfortable in the old fashioned real world, from here on in.

Rick Steele is a technology junkie who lives in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

Local poet Joanna Lilley is photographed at the Beringia Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 20, where she will be hosting a poetry workshop on Jan. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Poetry for the ages

Workshop set for the Yukon Beringia Centre

President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris in the State Dinning Room of the White House on Jan. 21, in Washington, D.C. The administration announced plans Jan. 20 for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the refuge considered sacred by the Gwich’in. (Alex Brandon/AP)
U.S. President Joe Biden halts oil and gas lease sales in ANWR

“Its great to have an ally in the White House”


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 22, 2021

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Most Read