INTERNET LOVE - Is it Real?Is it genuine? Is it REAL? Can it be real? Can it be LOVE?
Popularity of Internet lies in an unique opportunity shared by millions all over the world. Those who once met the wonders of the CYBER-SPACE "fall in love" at first key or surfe and stay "infected" forever. Direct communication with people living in ANY country in the world, without even having to leave the comforts of one`s own dining room, wipes out the physical limitations of geographical distances and offers a complete freedom of speech. The exchange of ideas, thoughts and attitudes bring people together erasing embarrassment, prejudice and awkwardness many would feel in a "face to face" communication.
Internet, as a perfect medium for quick business deals and service exchange, access to various sources of information, interactive communication and place to meet people you would have never been able to meet otherwise,nowadays, beside the ads in the newspapers, video tapes, marriage agencies and marriage mediators, becomes a "love medium". Love over the Net is a new phenomenon the sociologists and psychologists are yet to analyze.
HOW DO PEOPLE MEET?
To meet somebody over the Net is easier than in "real" life. There are numerous forums which function as advertising boards. All you have to do is leave your ad and an e-mail address and very soon you will be getting letters from all over the world. In case you already have your own home page, "surfers" who will find it interesting might leave a message. Chat rooms are open to everybody and you start talking with several people at once but you can continue to communicate with "the one" whose answers attracted your attention the most. Many meet playing interactive games. Frequent communication leads to better understanding, acceptance, sharing, friendship and finally love. And the number of potential partners is limitless.
IS LOVE OVER THE NET PHONY?
Skeptics claim that we can not talk about LOVE over the Net, because those allegedly "in love" do not really know who is on the other side of the screen. Regardless of the frequency of messages and letters, the electronic input on the screen is EVERYTHING we see. For the majority of people love over this medium is not "real". They claim that the "alleged feelings" are the results of imagination and shrewdly structured phrases. Because, they say, we can not "really" fall in love without the visual and audio sensation, i.e. without physical presence. Is it really so?
One of the essential characteristics of the communication over the Net is ANONYMITY. Anonymity provides more space to exercise the FREEDOM of speech, to express the ideas, attitudes, points of view freely and without inhibition. Without knowing anything about the physical appearance of the person they communicate with, people get to know each other on more personal basis. They learn about each other from "inside-out", quickly revealing their personalities, characters, sensibility, inclinations, motivations, in short, everything that makes them unique individuals. Since the words are the foundation of the computer communication, all of us use them the best we know how, or the way we want to. There is a saying that words are given to a person in order to hide what s/he thinks. To some of us, Internet opens the door of freedom of expression, sincerity and courage, to others possibility for fraud, lies and phony images. But Internet is just a MEDIUM, available to anybody and everybody and to be used as any other tool. The responsibility of HOW somebody is going to use it, lies within a person him/herself and does not depend on the shortcomings of the medium.
The merits speak for themselves. What about the demerits? It is true that the basic disadvantage of any sentimental relationship over the Net lies in the absence of physical contact and visual sensation. But, even that can be circumvented. There are many audiovisual programs and with a SOUND CARD and a SCANNER, you can actually SEE and HEAR the person that attracted you with his or her writing style and choice of words. Therefore you will be able to connect the words, thoughts and feelings with a face and tone of voice. There are also so called "CYBERPHONES" where in real time over the phone line you can talk "in live". Not enough? Of course not! So much more is missing. A touch, a look, an intonation and the unavoidable fluid of the physical contact.
IS VIRTUAL LOVE, REAL LOVE?
If we want to answer the objection that love over the Net is not "real", we should first define what "real love" is. Is there a definition at all? Isn't that one of those questions you are certain you know the answer to as long as nobody asks you? Even when we are not able to describe it exactly, we are all very sure that we know what love is and that we will be able to recognize it if it crosses our path. It is intuition we rely on, isn`t it? As if we were born with the knowledge of what love is and even though we can not express that knowledge satisfactory in words, we are still sure that we know.
But love can`t be defined or described. Every love is real, new and unique. The impossibility of definition has hidden love behind the seven veils of mystery. The Net, although a technical invention, gives the impression of mystery, adventure and excitement suitable for the growth of love feelings. Just like the starry nights by the sea shore. Haven't many "summer affairs" been blamed for their "unreality" despite of the physical presence?! Some summer loves were real, some were not. Can we blame the waves or the stars for the latter?
What is the "thing" that attracts us on the other person? What picks him or her out of the others and puts him or her into the center of our attention? What motivates us to give her or him our heart, time and devotion? What are the "bricks and glue" of the "real" love? There are many questions, and a answers as many as there are lovers.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN "REAL" AND "VIRTUAL" LOVE
In "real" love we meet someone at the party, in disco, in school, at the college, at work, on the vacation. Our attention is drawn by physical: voice, eyes, smile, the way s/he walks, a haircut. We know nothing about him or her but we feel physical attraction. PHYSICAL APPEARANCE is the starting point and the basic element of selection. On the basis of one or two attractive details we noticed, our imagination builds an image according to our wishes or needs we can be but are not necessarily aware of. In most of the cases, during the process of learning about the other person, we, in fact, look for the proofs that the person we like IS the person we THINK or wish s/he is. Imagination is a part of ANY love, whether we are aware of it or not. In case we overdo in favor of the imagined and against the facts, we find ourselves in a situation of an unpleasant "awakening" which many of us experience after they had been sure they had found Mr. or Ms. Right.
In "virtual" love, we meet someone writing or receiving his or her letters, participating in a discussion on a mailing list or playing an interactive game. Our attention will be drawn by a glimpse of someone's personality: style of writing, words s/he uses, wit, charm, knowledge, and excitement about the common interest. We learn about him or her very quickly and a lot as a result of the expressed ideas, thoughts, opinions, attitudes. INNERMOST and PERSONAL are the starting points and the decisive factor of selection. More often than not we write to several "soul mates" only to pick out just one. Why? Based on what exactly? Just like in a "real" love, on the basis of something undefined, something within our heart and not in our mind. Imagination fills the empty places between the sentences. The danger to be "seduced" by our own imagination is the SAME as in "real" life.
In "real" love, a couple goes on dates and learns things through talking to each other. In "virtual" love, introduction is also based on communication; the exchange of written words. She and he try to show their most "beautiful" sides in order to be liked. The possibility of deception and creation of a false image over the Net is the SAME as in daily life. How many times we choose partners believing that we know him/her only to discover that we have been living with a total stranger. "S/He wasn't like that when we met", we assure ourselves. Wasn't s/he? Of course s/he was. What fooled us? Do we always see the truth when we look at our lover's eyes?
If we do not insist on our illusion, meeting over the Net lasts a very short time if founded on false presumptions. The reason is simple. Those who lie must be very good liars if they want to remember all the lies they have written and to whom. Since the words are the basis of the whole relationship, a point in time comes very soon when a liar gets fed up with lying, looses interest or gets caught in the net of his own lies. Since we are concentrated only on words, we can quickly and easily discover a phony.
On the other side, in "real" life, deception is much more sophisticated. The words someone is using to deceive us about his or her true character and opinions, are obscured with the physical attraction, touch and physical closeness, by a smile that makes your knees weak or melody of the voice that leads your attention away from the meaning, a kiss that wipes out the questions which might be of the utmost importance. And when the time comes that the physical touch be replaced with words, for the many , it is too late.
Ultimately, the aim of any human relationship is to get to know a PERSON, the one behind the beautiful eyes, attractive figure and whispering voice that brings excitement. Aren't the character of a person, his/her thoughts, interests, temperament, sensibility and knowledge those things we try to find out about the other wo/man and see if they match ours? Very soon, the things that attracted us at the beginning become unimportant if we find out that we are not "soul mates" after all. On the other side, if we match intellectually and emotionally, physical appearance becomes unimportant.
Virtual love is a phenomenon of the modern age. Many partners find each others writing e-mail letters and the list of those who marry after such an introduction is getting longer.
For some people, writing e-mail letters means having a good time, for others excitement that passes or the getaway from the boring "reality" of their lives. Some of them cure their loneliness, shyness or embarrassment because of some physical defects.
Those who are in love emphasize the advantages of such a relationship, those who have experienced disappointment of the deceived, emphasize only disadvantages. Just like in "real" life. One thing is certain, meeting over the Net is an excellent start for any future relationship. Is it going to become "real" after the first physical contact depends on people themselves. Internet, however wonderful, is ONLY a medium which brings us together. Everything else depends on ourselves. Like in "real" life.
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