Categorized | Relationship

Virtual relationships are getting big

Posted on 11 November 2011 by admin

Though teenagers Benjamin and Susan were classmates; they never knew each other beyond an early morning “Hey” during rush class time. They had different subjects and never dreamed of interacting with each other. However, they spotted each other on a social networking site during their evenings and started chatting.

An immediate chemistry sparked off between them as they found out that their views and attitudes about the world around them were similar. In a world where teenagers are so alienated from each other due to variations in cultures and attitudes, Benjamin and Susan found they had so many common things to relate to. From being acquaintances, within a month, they were into a relationship. As anticipated, their virtual relationship soon turned real, and they began seeing each other.

Over the past few decades, the power of internet has grown so much into our lives, that it has effectively replaced real-life encounters. Casual meetings at cafes, simple board games, and weekend trips to the local library are slowly diminishing. The current generation has begun to usher in a plethora of online networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. This frenzy of social networking inevitably encourages the formation of virtual relationships. Internet friends that have never met in real life, or intimate online relationships that seem nonexistent when the two individuals meet in-person.

Why is virtual relationship getting so contagious?

Sense of privacy and freedom: Virtual relationships are making headway over real-life relationships. Psychological understanding of this is that when two people sit behind the safety of computer screens, knowing that they can log-off any time and befriend a person anytime, a sense of freedom and privacy reigns, which aids the relationship to take flight. We all know that freedom in a relationship helps it grow. One feels less conscious about oneself, and in the process, one’s true self often emerges. Many a times, online friends talk about things that they would never dream about talking to a real-life person, let alone, to a complete stranger.

Staying connected: The most appealing feature of the internet is staying connected with lost friends and family whom you hardly meet, without the effort of picking up the phone or driving over. Friends, family, schoolmates, and co-workers are only a few minutes away from a wall post or private message. Virtual relationships are often the only way of contacting friends from other states and countries.

Convenient: Because of the increasing influence of technology in our lives, computers make multitasking much easier. Simultaneously sending an email, instant messaging ten friends, shopping online, and checking your Facebook hardly takes any effort. It’s fun! Two friends that do not interact in real life may instant message each other until 1:00 AM, simply because it is more convenient.

How’s virtual relationship harming you?

Cyber-stalking With personal information and your current relationship updates posted on social profiles, you may become a soft target for stalkers, even on a minor level. However, what you post and you want to let the world know is in your hands. So don’t type anything on computer that you don’t want people to know.

Laziness The laziness that creeps in due to the convenience of virtual connection may deter you from making a real life effort to meet the person and sustain the relationship. The strength of a relationship can be threatened.

Disconnection from reality Research has shown that addiction to online networking is a direct cause of unproductiveness, social depression, loneliness, and an overall alienation from reality. In general, many become more wrapped-up in virtual relationships, as opposed to relationships they could be developing in real life.

Do we need to differentiate it from real relationships?

Even in a virtual setting, the person on the other end is a human, with all the emotions and characteristics of a real person. So where is the difference?

It is said that the problem with virtual relationships is that they are apparently not real. The information which two people share with each other virtually can be controlled in a way that one only knows about the other what that person wants them to know. This can mean that a very false impression of a person can be built up in a virtual relationship.

Conversely, this can happen in real life too. In real life, too, we control what we want our friends to know and what we don’t. In real life, we take years to get to know a person fully: reading about their sun-signs, their moon signs and, and lately, their Chinese zodiac signs. We try to assemble all the qualities and then decide whether we should go ahead with the relationship or not.

So it is in the case of a virtual relationship.

The increasing popularity of the Internet in recent years has seen the advent of millions of virtual relationships. There are scores of relationships and even marriages which sparked off from virtual friendships. However, it is imperative, that anyone who does engage in a virtual relationship does so with their eyes open at all times. They must take all of the above factors into account and know that while there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a virtual relationship, in many instances, if they are not careful, the dangers can sometimes cause them insurmountable problems in the real world.



Kaberi Chatterjee

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