When I was younger – maybe 13 – some kind, possibly sympathetic soul told me that when girls were into guys they just ignored them.

Imagine how I got on, all lanky limbs and awful hair, thinking that every girl I passed, eyes glued to the pavement, was secretly admiring me: tall and thin, ugly and assured.

God knows how else I would have made it through my teens.

But 10 years on and I’m beginning to seriously question that small piece of advice. It may have got me through my teens, but it sure as hell won’t get me through my 20s.

If it were true then London loves me. In fact, by that logic, I got a whole lot of love at the pub last night. Indeed, it’s a wonder I didn’t get raped on the Tube home.

Now, of course, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to indicating your interest. Glances on the Tube are generally ill-advised, especially at night. But, ladies, when you get home, why not log on to Craigslist and post about your “missed connection“, in the hope that Mr Right-Across-the-Carriage will reply.

Here’s one from a few of weeks ago:

Victoria Line, Monday Evening, discussed Harry Potter

Going North on the Victoria Line, sitting across from you, talking to my friend about how we still haven’t gone to King’s Cross to have our pictures taken between Platforms 9 and 10. You said you bet we’d meet on the train again a week from now, and I still wouldn’t have had my picture taken. I said I’d get it done the next day on my way to see the Tower of London.

I only realised later that I should have given you my number.

And you were right, I didn’t go to King’s Cross – I’m hoping to go with you!

Craigslist is just one way in which you can flirt online. There are, of course, countless other, more explicit ways – and I’ve already covered match.com’s virtual winking feature – but we won’t dwell on those sites that charge to do it. Because, frankly, it’s pretty sad. I can say that because I’ve done it.

A more popular, kid-friendly way (though I wouldn’t try it with kids) is Facebook’s built-in poking device. With it, you can let your ‘lover’ know that they’ve been poked when they next log in.

Here’s what I saw when I logged into Facebook tonight:


You were poked by Meghan Vaughn.

poke back | remove poke

And when I clicked “poke back”?

Poke Meghan?

You are about to poke Meghan. She will be informed of this the next time she logs in.

Poke | Cancel

It’s about as far removed from actual poking as you can get. If you’ve ever been poked by or even poked the person next to you on the Tube (and again, I’d advise against this), there is no option to “remove poke” nor is it wise to “poke back”.

And now that Facebook’s opened up to third-party applications there are even more ways to poke people. You can use Poke Pro! Super Poke! Party Poke! Pokey Poke! Edgar Allan Poke! The list is endless…

But despite all these options, the third-party application support, the AJAX controls, the JavaScript widgetry, even logging in to see that I’ve been poked in every conceivable way, I feel no closer to an actual physical connection than I did those years I spent being ignored by girls.

At least when one looked up it meant something. And if they ever poked back, I knew I was in.