Georgina Ryke looks to the unquantifiable wisdom of Wikipedia for guidance in the art of modern-day courtship.

I’ve just spent my third consecutive birthday without a birthday pash. I know it sounds like a trivial thing, but for me it’s indicative of a greater problem:  my ability, or lack thereof, to coerce a good-looking stranger on a dimly lit d-floor to take the time to hold me, kiss me and enjoy the experience. Plainly put, my skills in the art of flirting are seriously underdeveloped. I’ve even tried the supposedly fail-proof line of “Hey! It’s my birthday” to no avail.

Like any kid of the technology age, I like to seek answers to my questions from the Supreme Being. My questions of self-doubt, spelled out by my fingertips, led me to the informative pages of Wikipedia. Here I learnt valuable lessons of hair flicking, eye contact and in some cases, where the heck I was going wrong. Score… or at least, with a few improvements to my social skills maybe I will?

To begin with, I’ve been taking myself too seriously. According to St Wiki, flirtation is the suggestion of “an interest in a deeper relationship” with another person. That’s strike one – I’ve been saving my best self for the dudes I actually like. Such gents are difficult to find when you’re in a dark, smoky room being blinded by strobe lights and tequila. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t see the charm in alcohol-fuelled exchanges. Plus, any fun I may have been having tends to disappear at the question relating to just that. “You having fun tonight?” ironically results in a lie through gritted teeth as I search for the easiest escape route from the alcohol/vomit breath..

So drunk dudes aren’t my thing. I guess that makes things difficult when the weekend social scene inherently involves the constant possession of a prop: the alcoholic beverage. Luckily, according to Wikipeeds, bars and clubs aren’t the only site where flirting can be undertaken. Phew! There’s still hope.

Wiki-P suggests the use of written communication. Okay. I can do this. In fact, I scored my first boyfriend at the tender age of thirteen through MSN Messenger. Those were the days, right? Start the chinese whisper; tell a friend about your crush, act embarrassed when she can’t keep a secret and rush home to sign in so that the pre-pubescent kid can add you, chat to you and ask you to be his girlfriend.

Of course, having conversations from behind a screen, where a dry mouth and a face as flushed as a royal hand in a poker game are hidden, can make the process a lot easier. That is, until you rock up to school the next day and have to face him. Then talk to him. Soon after, you’re expected to kiss him between lunch and fifth period…with tongue. I got dropped within a week of being picked up. And here we are again, back at my recurring problem: being un-pashed.

MSN, ICQ and that other one whose name I forgot are a thing of the past, but written electronic flirting is not dead. My wing-man (who is a chick, but who inevitably twot-blocks me and vice-versa) and I have constant disagreements over the use of Facebook in the pre-courting process. She prefers to find a guy by stalking through mutual friends, all the while maintaining a cool almost-but-not-quite disinterested face when in his presence. I favour the straight-up friendship request, sharing of funny memes and ‘liking’  roughly one in five of the posts he makes. I also recommend thoroughly researching whether or not he has a girlfriend by scanning his photos, tags and check-ins. Just because its not Facebook official doesn’t mean it’s not real-life official.

The Wikigods also provide a deep discussion of the use of the dangerously seductive practice of eye contact:practice; dangerous because staring at a person for extended periods can make you look a bit scary, and seductive because, if attempted in appropriate situations, it can work. A shared glance is proof of mutual attraction (see: green light), whereas unreciprocated eye contact is just plain uncomfortable (see: red light). Learn to read the signs and you just may get lucky (or at the very least, will avoid looking like a total creep).

Wiks even gives a few history lessons of flirting throughout the ages and across cultures. The goings-on between American Soldiers and British women during World War II really struck me. At the time, British anthropologist Margaret Mead observed a misunderstanding between the sexes of differing cultures: namely, American men and British women couldn’t quite seem to figure out whose job it was to take the initiative. Apparently, American boys would make their advances but rely on the girl receiving their affections to let them know when they’d gone too far. British girls, however, were brought up to maintain a slight barrier of chilliness, which ultimately earned respect from the boys. Call me a lit nerd, but I think Jane Austen was either onto this, or the cause of this. Elizabeth and Darcy, anyone?

Fast forward to today and travel halfway round the world to the stomping grounds of my single life, and my approach seems to swing between both extremes of the spectrum – neither of which seem to work. Act chilly; he thinks I’m not interested. Act too keen and he’s running away from whatever ill-conceived perception of commitment that  I seem to be communicating. I’ve decided the best strategy is to hang out somewhere in between. And not expect miracles from drunken clubs.

Well. I guess there’s always next year for that birthday pash. Thanks for nothing Weakipedia