Friday, July 30, 2010

Virtual Communications, Real Connections

In my recent post on OKCupid, I put my foot in it a little bit by saying that online relationships were not "real." This was not what I meant, so I thought that it would be appropriate to take a closer look at online relationships.

Clark says: I love meeting people online. I don't have to worry about how I look, or even knowing the right thing to say. If I'm not sure, I can always take a quick moment to collect my thoughts or even to Google the answer.

Candy says: I had the hottest relationship online. The guy was a dom who could rock my world with his strength, but he lived hundreds of miles away and was confined to a wheelchair. But, I tell you, this guy was so good that his words were more than enough to get me off. Well, that and my own skilled fingers.

There is an old saying that "on the Internet, no one knows you are a dog." The great strength and weakness of online communication is the narrowness of the communication. In person, you have a great deal of information about a person: what they say, their vocal inflection, body language, pacing of speech, clothing, appearance, etc. Online, the communication is much more limited: words, sometimes pictures, voice if you choose to do so.

This means that the impression that you get of someone might not be entirely accurate. This is a problem if you eventually intend to meet them. I'm sure we've all heard the stories of people who meet and fall in love online then travel halfway around the world to discover the Prince Charming is not necessarily as charming as you thought. After all, no one leaves the toilet seat up or forgets to shower on the Internet.

On the other hand, if the relationship is purely online, what's wrong with an inaccurate picture? When you connect online, you bypass the physical form and connect directly, person to person. It doesn't matter what you look like or what you can do. The other person will often fill in the gaps with what they want to believe is true, and, often, what you might wish were true. I am not talking about being dishonest, just letting yourself believe what you want to believe.

Candy's case is a great example. In chat and talking by voice, her online dom could do things that he could not do in person because of his medical situation, but, for her, he could do things that most other doms could not do even able bodied and in person. In the unreality of the Internet, their connection could be more real than it could ever be in the harsh rigors of the "real" world.

Like many other things in the world of relationships, the answer to the question "what is best?" is "what is best for you?" Casanova would find online relationships entirely unfulfilling as he seeks physical connection. Someone looking to connect on an intellectual level who doesn't want to worry about physical issues and complications would find an online relationship delightfully fulfilling, connecting, and real.

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