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cyber Cyrano also cyber-Cyrano

noun [countable]

a person paid to write someone's online dating profile in order to make their search for a partner more successful

'With online dating, the first impression begins before the first meeting, with a photograph or three and a couple of witty paragraphs. Enter the cyber-Cyranos: "professionals" who rewrite your personal ads …'

New York Magazine 11th September 2005

Somewhere, out there, there's the person who is just right for you, that soul mate, that life partner who you should grow old with. Trouble is, so far, destiny hasn't brought you together, and your attempts to use a little online assistance in getting your paths to cross haven't exactly been successful. So then, to give things a nudge in the right direction, why not enlist the services of a cyber Cyrano?

trends suggest that people enlisting the services of a cyber Cyrano are often successful professionals who don't have the time or the ability to put together a profile which represents them in the most appealing way

Popping up all over the Internet are modern-day Cupids specializing in writing witty, charming and flirtatious messages on behalf of people who are either too busy or ineffectual to do it for themselves. These romantically-motivated ghostwriters have been dubbed the cyber Cyranos, and they're particularly hot property in the domain of Internet dating. People whose attempts to find love in cyber space are proving unsuccessful, are increasingly considering the option of 'outsourcing' the writing of their dating profiles to a cyber Cyrano. On the basis that initial impressions can make or break a potential romance, then the carefully crafted construction of a personal profile might be the key to attracting a wider or more appropriate range of suitors.

Trends suggest that people enlisting the services of a cyber Cyrano are often successful professionals who don't have the time or the ability to put together a profile which represents them in the most appealing way. On payment of a set fee, the cyber Cyrano interviews the client and puts together an initial 'sell' blurb for use on dating sites. Some clients may then choose to take things a step further by signing up for what is sometimes known as a virtual dating assistant, someone employed to pose as their client on dating sites and write messages to potential partners to arrange first dates.

Not surprisingly, use of these tactics in the pursuit of romance has provoked mixed reactions, some holding the view that it's a fundamentally dishonest way to operate because people are misrepresenting themselves. Those involved counter that it's simply a way to help people present themselves in the best possible light during the 'screening process', something that may not come naturally to many online daters. Whatever the view, the services of the cyber Cyrano are proving to be recession-proof business – people will always be looking for love!

Background – cyber Cyrano from Cyrano de Bergerac

The term cyber Cyrano is a marriage (excuse the pun!) of the prefix cyber meaning 'relating to computers and the Internet' and the proper noun Cyrano. The use of Cyrano is a clever reference to Cyrano de Bergerac, a play written in 1897 by French author Edmond Rostand. In Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano is a soldier and poet who falls in love with his cousin, the beautiful Roxane. Convinced, however, that his large, protruding nose will foil any chance of romance, Cyrano resorts to writing letters to her on behalf of one of his cadets, Christian, who is also in love with Roxane but just doesn't know how to tell her. Roxane falls for the poetic charm of the letters, but believes that they were written by Christian.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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Read last week's BuzzWord. Nature-deficit disorder.

This article was first published on 26th July 2010.

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