In(ternet) Love

More and more people are becoming involved in computer mediated romantic relationships. A lot of people have different opinions on whether these “nontraditional” romantic relationships are “real”, if they compare to the types of “traditional” romantic relationships we are more used to and people just don’t understand them. The introduction of Web 2.0 and social media has made it easier and more common for these relationships to develop and thrive.

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I think the level of anonymity, or pseudonymity, adds to these online romantic relationships in a way that is not present in “traditional” romantic relationships. Being online gives you the opportunity to carefully choose your words to help portray yourself the way you want to be perceived: you can change your name, your physical-presence is no longer a factor and you can alter any other detail of yourself in which you feel self-conscious about (Lea & Spears, cited in Anderson, T. & Emmers-Sommer, T, 2006). With this freedom comes confidence and with confidence comes open communication. Positivity and openness are two traits in which relationships, romantic or nonromantic, thrive (Wright, cited in Anderson, T. & Emmers-Sommer, T, 2006).

In 1998 Parks and Roberts examined relationships which formed on MUDs and MOOs (multi-user domains, object oriented) and found that 93% of participants formed at least one relationship while on MOOs, both romantic and close-friendship relationships (Whitty, M. 2013). They concluded that is was in fact the norm. They theorised that “MOOs provide users with the perception of a safe environment for social interaction in which individuals can explore all types of relationships without fear of repercussions in their physical lives (Parks & Roberts, cited in Whitty, M. 2013).

Online seems to be an environment where it is easier to make friends or even fall into romantic relationships. Is it because we are all too afraid to show our true selves offline, in real life, that we now feel that online is a better world for us to feel more comfortable? Have we turned more to the cyber-world to do everything, even make friends? Or is it simply that the web has given us the chance to find people who share the same interests as us that we couldn’t find in our own home towns? The internet has brought people from all over the globe closer together and has helped form long lasting relationships, but are people not afraid that who they seem to be talking to every day may be nothing like their avatar at all?

Reading List:

The Social Net – Understanding Our Online Behaviour

Predictors of Relationship Satisfaction in Online Romantic Relationships

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