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For Valentine's Day, Cupid ditches arrows, opts for e-cards

The online expression of romance is running apace and amok. Especially among men. At least according to one study.

Admit it. You've always wanted to love like John Travolta. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Romance isn't dead.

It's merely been reduced to the level of a friend request, a poke, and a privacy control.

Often in that order.

How else can one interpret the staggeringly predictable research -- performed on behalf of SOASTA, the oddly named company that performs cloud and mobile testing -- that suggests more than a third of American human beings will send an e-card for Valentine's Day?

It's true that some e-cards can be amusing, uplifting, even offering an instant surprise on an otherwise moribund day. But can they truly incite a loving feeling on America's most commercially amorous day of the year?

You will be stunned into loving only yourself for the rest of your days when I tell you that -- of the 2,474 American adults surveyed -- men seem a little keener on Valentine e-cards than women.

Indeed, this research offered that 47 percent of men between the ages of 35 and 44 indicated that the love of their life deserved merely a few clicks and a canned expression of love.

Next in enthusiasm were men aged 18-34, 41 percent of whom will let their fingers do the loving.

But let's not besmirch these men any more than they deserve. 41 percent of women aged 18-34 also claimed that e-cards were their chosen method to stroke their chosen one.

Clearly, convenience is at the heart of this e-card enthusiasm, just as it is at the heart of modern romance.

Respondents were radiant at the idea that e-cards are free. 35 percent beamed at the fact that they offer the possibility of animation. And a deeply serious 34 percent felt the need to point out they were environmentally friendly.

A surprisingly paltry 6 percent admitted that they loved e-cards because you could happily include NSFW content.

Because ours is an acquisitive society, those who send these free, convenient things to express their temporarily undying love actually expect something in return.

A kiss is expected by 8 percent. A fulsome 10 percent expect sex. They must be among those who believe you can get something for nothing.

There will be those who reach for their Latin and mutter: "Sic transit tragoedia mundi." (Oh, look it up, e-carders.)

But when a whole new personal version of oneself is being created and spun online, who can be surprised that other expressions of love might seem not merely passe but also downright unexpressive?

E-cards surely allow you a far greater breadth than paper cards or balloons to display precisely what you really feel about the most important person in your life.

Which, in the case of 3 percent of the respondents in this moving survey, is "the hot receptionist at work."