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Don't Dismiss Online Relationships As Fantasy 357

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the asl-dangers dept.
Columnist Regina Lynn has a look at how online relationships seem to be blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. "The common thread among these stories is that people get deeply involved in online relationships and make decisions about their real lives. Calling any of these online relationships 'fantasy' dismisses the impact they have on the people involved and on those closest to them... I have yet to encounter anything that challenges my core belief: Relationships are real wherever they form."
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Don't Dismiss Online Relationships As Fantasy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:09AM (#20506525)
    I'm a nerd, remember?
    • by InsaneProcessor (869563) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:57AM (#20507839)
      True in the context of this article. Online relationships that involve any hint of intimacy is fantasy. True intimacy can only be achieved through physical closeness. This is just a bunch of crap designed for the modern age.
      • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday September 07, 2007 @01:14PM (#20510479) Homepage
        What about intimacy through roleplay, which ends up developing into an amazing physical experience when you finally meet the person?

        What about making plans to move to another country to live with them after you find out how compatible and perfect you are for each other, all because you decided to roleplay textually online and discover each other's desires?

        You can indeed be intimate online. It can tell you a lot about the other person, sexually and emotionally.

        Don't dismiss what you haven't tried.
        • by antek9 (305362) on Friday September 07, 2007 @01:57PM (#20511305)
          I think you're absolutely spot on there. I myself have met some outstandingly nice people online, not just nerds and other people trapped in basements, no, real people! Quite some of my acquaintances are actually rather successful businessmen, most of them from Nigeria, who have become real close friends over the course of the last year. Actually, I'm planning to meet some of them next week, for the first time. It's gonna be a blast! They also told me a lot about some exciting business opportunities, which I'm eager to try.

          As you can see, the Internets (yes! all of them) are not for losers only any longer. Friendship is possible!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by geekinaseat (1029684)
          If you are lucky that may well be the case, however I believe you cannot really know someone until you have lived with them, or at least had regular contact with them in real life. My experience was meeting this girl one summer which turned into a long distance relationship (during which we both thought we were perfect for each other) and then a year later she moved in.... it all fell apart, just because I guess we didn't know each other that well, no matter how long you spend chatting online/on the phone/t
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Mister Whirly (964219)
          "What about intimacy through roleplay, which ends up developing into an amazing physical experience when you finally meet the person?"

          What about the perceived intimacy, that is completely voided when meeting in person and the hot 20 year old girl turns out to be a fat, ugly 40 year old man??

          The internet - where men are men, women are men, and children are undercover FBI agents.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Unkyjar (1148699)
        Actually intimacy has been achieved without closeness long before the invention of the computer. Courtship through correspondance is a tried and true method, mainly done through the exchange of letters. One example of this is Elizabeth Barret-Browning and John Browning. The conceit that things like remote courtship only occurs in this day and age is based on erroneous assumptions.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They are real alright. People just get mocked for trusting someone whom they have never seen, smelled or heard, who has only given them words. Lip-service isn't what you want to go for in a relation.
    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:21AM (#20506679)

      They are real alright.

      Depends. As I have noticed, online relationships' realness depends on how well they pass the test of time, and how well the relationship survives the shit it goes through.

      Now that I come to think about it, it's the exact same thing in real-life relationships. Real-life one night stands or relationships that live no longer than a couple of weeks have little credibility.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by somersault (912633)
        Relating online is also totally different to spending time with someone for real. In real life you can't do funny animated emotes like on MSN, you have to use your actual emotions. You also have to go out and eat and generally do things which are more focused on the fact that you are with the person. When you are just chatting online, be it in text or voice, you are usually doing other things, but if you do that in real life then it's considered rude. People can also be fun in a purely virtual situation, bu
        • by 4D6963 (933028) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:09AM (#20507241)

          Wait, are you trying to say that interacting with someone online and in real-life produces different experiences!? NO WAI! Does it also mean I must put clothes on, look presentable and not pick my nose when I'd hypothetically interact with people in the real world?

          Mind boggling!

          • Mostly saying that just because you get on with someone like a house on fire on the net, doesn't mean it will be like that for real. It's kind of obvious really. The reason we split up wasn't because of the differences anyway, I just noticed that I suddenly had a lot less time to spend on the computer when I was spending time with her for real :P Can be quite a shock when you've spent the last couple of decades doing nothing but using computers. So I reckon, find a girl that enjoys playing computer games to
    • I think trying to sniff someone as a greeting could be grounds for a restraining order
    • by analog_line (465182) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:38AM (#20507589)
      Right, because no one puts on perfume or aftershave to hide their true scent in person.

      And no one works on changing their voice so they can appear to be more (or less depending) authoritative than their normal voice makes them seem.

      And no one dresses up (or down) to try and mask their socio-economic status from whatever social circle they're trying to get into.

      And no one flat out lies about themselves in the real world too. All perfectly honest.

      Just because you're close enough to a person that you could slap them, doesn't mean the person is any less of a mirage than they are online. Hell, in the world of blogs, you can often find out more about someone than you can from meeting them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by e2d2 (115622)
        That is all true, but there is certainly more information conveyed in a face to face meeting. It's up to the person receiving that information to actually use or choose to ignore it. Maybe one day all of that information will be conveyed using "tele-presence", but right now face to face is your best chance.

        My personal experience? Don't let someone you truly don't know effect your emotions anymore than you can willingly handle, regardless of their physical location. And don't get involved in "internet drama"
  • by loafula (1080631) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:11AM (#20506543)
    i found out my beautiful elf princess was really a 56 year old man
    • by chelanfarsight (835467) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:19AM (#20506661)
      recently i had a discussion with a friend concerning the nature of community in general and in particular the relationships that make up the online gaming experience. the emotions felt are real. the connections made between individuals are real. therefore imo online relationships are real just as the ones i experience in the office or at home or at the coffee shop are. however, while they may be real, because they comprise real human experience, they are qualitatively different. and i think that this is where it becomes difficult. we haven't related to each other in the ways presented through this new medium, ever. this means that in the social background the rules have yet to be established, the presupposed boundaries and entry points are not agreed upon, leaving us in a liminal stage. it appears to me that once these things are more hashed out the debates about the 'reality' of the nature of online relationships will fade.
      • by TeknoHog (164938) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:57AM (#20507095) Homepage Journal

        however, while they may be real, because they comprise real human experience, they are qualitatively different.

        I agree, but there are lots of problems with online relationships, though they are not inherent to the medium. In the grandparent's example, it's easy for a 56 year old male to fake being a young female. The idea bothers me, I'd much rather be conversing with the real person, since a real sexual relationship is out of the question anyway. Perhaps people don't value nonsexual friendship enough, and they try to turn everything into sex.

    • by Mothra the III (631161) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:17AM (#20507353)
      I had been getting computer advise from someone who I thought was a fat, balding, middle-aged dude working from his moms basement, wearing a Yoda t-shirt and eating hot pockets. It turns out this person was really a ho, horny supermodel who was cruising the internet to find victims to satisfy her lusts and to spend her millions of dollars. You never get over that kind of betrayal
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SCHecklerX (229973)
      And if she was only 13, it was Chris Hansen.
    • I fell in love with a girl I met on EQ2.

      We met nearly 3 years ago and for a while we just sorta hung out together as friends. Over the course of the past year, though, we started getting serious about being more than just buddies. We were spending every available waking moment talking to each other online.

      Here's the twist though. I'm 26 and I thought she was 20. It turns out that she misrepresented her age by about 7 years. So in reality she is a 13 year old girl still in Jr. High. She told me the truth not
  • Real? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:12AM (#20506561)
    Relationships are only as real as the people in them. If the person is pretending to be something their not, even by a little bit, that can be greatly magnified online. As long as the relationship STAYS online, it's fine... But meeting the person in real life can be a disaster.

    So sure, don't just dismiss them as fantasy, but don't just accept them as reality, either. Same as pretty much everything else in the world.
    • Re:Real? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:18AM (#20506639) Homepage Journal

      If the person is pretending to be something their not, even by a little bit, that can be greatly magnified online.
      That's a very good point, it's simply the modern version of the oldest relationship caveat in the book. It's not limited to online relationships by any means, it's just as possible to find someone who can still pretend to be something they're not face-to-face. Like with most of our modern problems and solutions, the Internet just makes it a damn sight easier.
    • Re:Real? (Score:4, Funny)

      by nacturation (646836) <nacturation.gmail@com> on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:20AM (#20506675) Journal

      But meeting the person in real life can be a disaster.
      "I don't care if you have a speech impediment. There's no way Bubba can be mispronounced as Betty."
       
    • Re:Real? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:22AM (#20506691) Homepage Journal

      As long as the relationship STAYS online, it's fine... But meeting the person in real life can be a disaster.
      Maybe, maybe not. My cousin is married to a woman with whom he was in an online relationship. I know of others who have had mixed success with converting online relationships into IRL relationships. It's kind of like turning a friendship into a real relationship -- sometimes it can work out, other times it won't. It all depends on the two people involved and how ready they are for the relationship and how honest they are with each other and whether or not there is good trust built between them.

      And that's the big clue, guys -- relationships aren't built on sex, love, lust or any of those things (though they help to get a good relationship going). Relationships are built in characteristics like caring, trust, and honesty. If any two people share these characteristics with one another, no matter how they met, who they are, or what part of the world they live in, they can have a successful relationship, online or offline.
      • Re:Real? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Locarius (798304) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:10AM (#20507251)
        Romantic relationships are built on ATTRACTION. While it is not impossible to build initial attraction without physical contact (online), it is often difficult to maintain attraction without it. Things change chemically in the brain after a passionate kiss, after physical touch, after sex.

        Caring, trust, and honesty are great things to have in a relationship, but remove the attraction and what do you have? You've got a friend.
        • Re:Real? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday September 07, 2007 @11:01AM (#20507903) Homepage Journal

          Romantic relationships are built on ATTRACTION.
          No, that's just it. Romantic relationships start with attraction, but where two people take it from there is up to them. Think about people who have been married a long time -- perhaps your grandparents. Do you think there is much physical attraction left after 50 years of marriage? How about arranged marriages? Many arranged marriages are extremely successful, and in many cases the two people never met before they got married.

            People who think relationships are built from attraction are the types who are likely to have infidelity in their relationships and/or are the most likely to get divorced. Successful romantic relationship cannot exist without caring, trust and honesty. Successful romantic relationships can exist without attraction -- it's done everyday.
        • Re:Real? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Dan Hayes (212400) on Friday September 07, 2007 @11:03AM (#20507929)
          So true, as three and a half years in my last relationship proved. Without attraction, you're mates.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I think I wasn't clear enough on that... As long as the relationship stays online, there's not much that will derail it. Meeting in meatspace, however, is a 50/50 chance at absolute disaster. Of course, the other half of that chance is continuing a great relationship.

        I've had both, and fscked both of them up. I had a girl who was pretending to be single, but was in reality a junkie who wanted some fun away from her boyfriend, and I had a real sweetheart that moved in with me. The junkie I found out abo
      • Re:Real? - me too (Score:3, Informative)

        by Christoph (17845)

        Maybe, maybe not. My cousin is married to a woman with whom he was in an online relationship.

        I've been married for two years to a woman I met online (she was my fantasy, and still is). She emailed me as a stranger in 2003 to ask for help with a document on my website, and we became pen pals (platonic - there were 10,000 miles between us and we never expected to meet). After I went to another part of Asia, she offered to show me around her country...I stayed for six months, and we're back in the USA now.

        Ho

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by neomunk (913773)
          I too met my wife online, and get funny looks when telling people so.

          We met almost 12 years ago at a place called Shadow BBS, hosted at the Illinois Institue of Technology, it's all but gone now (I think it's still running, but always empty) but in the heyday of telnet BBSs it had a 55 user limit and commonly a 40 person queue. She's not the first woman I met online, so I can attest to the numerous posters above being accurate in the 'crap shoot' type description they're offering.

          In our case however, we've
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Arcane_Rhino (769339)

        And that's the big clue, guys -- relationships aren't built on sex, love, lust or any of those things (though they help to get a good relationship going). Relationships are built in characteristics like caring, trust, and honesty. If any two people share these characteristics with one another, no matter how they met, who they are, or what part of the world they live in, they can have a successful relationship, online or offline.

        You are absolutely correct. I have to add, however, that they keep it going

    • Re:Real? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:32AM (#20506805) Journal
      I would say the exact opposite. I met my girlfriend on IRC, we've been together over 2 years now. But that only happened after I met her face to face. For a couple years before we met my present GF was just a source of friendly chat. I didn't even (knowingly) flirt. I would never even think of getting romantically involved with someone I never met.

      The point is, get to know someone without getting your feelings involved in it. Then when you meet them, you won't be disappointed if they're not like they are on line. Only AFTER you spend some real time with them is it reasonable to develop feelings. If you haven't put in the face time, you're not really falling in love with that person, but the idea of the person. Remember, it's just a game, or it's just chat. It's a great way to make connections, but do your loving in person.
      • Re:Real? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Lord Apathy (584315) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:01AM (#20507139)

        The last online GF I tried to meet offline turned out to be a cop in drag.

      • Re:Real? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday September 07, 2007 @11:44AM (#20508579) Homepage Journal
        ``If you haven't put in the face time, you're not really falling in love with that person, but the idea of the person.''

        IMO, that is always the case. No matter how you interact and how long you have known a person,
        you will never know them completely.

        I find interacting with people through "poor" media like IRC usually reveals a lot that interacting through "rich" media (like actual face to face conversation) would keep hidden. I think it is because these media _force_ people to realize that the other person can't read your mind and can misunderstand you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rane_man (1153291)

        Only AFTER you spend some real time with them is it reasonable to develop feelings. If you haven't put in the face time, you're not really falling in love with that person, but the idea of the person. Remember, it's just a game, or it's just chat. It's a great way to make connections, but do your loving in person.

        I respectfully disagree.

        While I understand your intentions, I've found online communication to be an excellent way to cut through BS and really get to know someone. Gone are insecurities about looks, shyness, and other such nonsense. Also eliminated is the abysmal dating experience where you basically spend the night being critiqued. Did you hold open the door? Did you stand too close? Not close enough? You make HOW MUCH for a living? Rather than face these typical, and often uncomfortable situ

    • So sure, don't just dismiss them as fantasy, but don't just accept them as reality, either. Same as pretty much everything else in the world.
      Yep, don't dimiss everything in the world as fantasy, but don't accept it as reality either.

      I adhere to that by believing we live in a big computer simulation: it's all simulated, but has real impacts for people in the Overworld who are observing us.
    • Re:Real? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:36AM (#20506855) Homepage
      Relationships are only as real as the people in them. If the person is pretending to be something their not, even by a little bit, that can be greatly magnified online. As long as the relationship STAYS online, it's fine... But meeting the person in real life can be a disaster.

      I consider it to be like reading a book and then watching the movie. Regardless of the level truth put forth by the other person I always draw a different mental image of the person and their behavior. When I meet them in person it's always different than what my mental image of them was.

      I do my best to act just as I would in real life online as I do anywhere else and I really hope that the other person does too. At least when people meet me they already know I'm a fucking foul mouthed asshole. The rest of me is just gravy ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mindwarp (15738)
      "But meeting the person in real life can be a disaster." ...or it can work out. I met my wife online, eight years and three kids ago!

      Just like any relationships in life, sometimes it's a disaster and sometimes it's great.
    • linky [wikipedia.org]

      Cyrano's love for the beautiful Roxane, whom he is obliged to woo on behalf of a more conventionally handsome, but less articulate, friend, Christian de Neuvillette

    • As long as the relationship STAYS online, it's fine... But meeting the person in real life can be a disaster.

      If I was that terrified of disasters, I would not have travelled 600 miles to meet a woman that I met online.

      I would not have enjoyed 5 years of blissful marriage with her (so far).

      And I would not now have a beautiful 6-month-old baby boy with her.

      Try jumping in the water every once in a while. If you dip your toe first, you can be reasonably sure it won't burn you.

    • Re:Real? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:05AM (#20507189) Homepage

      As long as the relationship STAYS online, it's fine... But meeting the person in real life can be a disaster.

      Interesting point. I'm generally the sort of person who would dismiss on "online relationship" as fantasy, since you don't really know who the other person is. For clarification, I would say that some relationship IRL are a fantasy, too. People often don't really bother to get to know each other, but instead build up little images in their own heads about each other. Sometimes this goes to an extreme, and the whole "relationship" isn't really a relationship at all.

      Like, you know how the girlfriend you had in elementary school wasn't really your girlfriend? You're not really dating or anything, but it was more like you were putting on a play, trying to act how your little-kid mind thought boyfriends and girlfriends acted. Well, if you pay close attention, sometimes you'll catch some adults doing the same thing.

      However, I think this one part of your post convinced me that I was wrong. Online relationships can be a real relationship of a sort. I mean, there are business relationships and casual acquaintances, and those are genuine relationships of their sort. They just don't necessarily have a lot of depth or weight. I think online relationships can be of the same sort of thing. They can be genuine online-relationships, but you shouldn't confuse that with being real friends.

      I know some people will think this is an arbitrary distinction, but I have real reason for saying it. I think real friendships are forged over time through presence and actions. The bonding of physical presence can't be replaced with "virtual presence", and also actions can't be replaced with words. You can say all the flowery words you want, but my friends are the people who will pick me up from the gutter when I fall in.

      And when I say, "pick me up from the gutter", I do mean that metaphorically, but not in the sense of "boost my spirits". I've known people who talk a good game and will tell you that they care about you, but when you actually need something from them, something that will cost them, they won't do it. The idea of "cost" is important here. Lots of people will say and do all sorts of nice things for you, up until the point where it becomes difficult or costly. It's the difference between someone who will spend an evening with you when you're injured, and someone who will spend an evening with you when you're injured even though they'd like to be out partying instead. It's the difference between someone who will help you up when you've slipped in some mud, and someone who will ruin their favorite pair of shoes helping you up when you've slipped in mud.

      I just think that those are the moments that solidify friendships, and they're such complicated moments that I don't think they can be replicated over wires. Even if someone will "spend time with you" online while you're injured, they can still do it at their own convenience, in their own comfy chair. Even if they send you some money (which I think is the height of online trust), they're just sending some money. There's nothing very personal there. It's all detached.

      If you really don't know what I mean by all of this, and you don't think that physical presence and real-life actions mean more than virtual presence and virtual actions, then I'm very sorry for you.

  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:14AM (#20506587) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of a hilarious story a friend of mine told me about his Everquest days...

    Apparently a group of players decided they're gonna have two of their friends get married in the game, complete with ceremony. I mean they were really serious about this! They apparently sent out invitations and got all worked up over it like it was real.

    Unfortunately, upon hearing this, my friend built up an army of warriors to pay a visit to this little event. As the bride and groom exchanged vows, they charged in like Lancelot and began their slaughter. A paralyze spell was used on the bride who was then carried off onto a boat. The groom was hacked to bits and the rest of the wedding party was killed off as the bride and her captor sailed off into the sunset.

    Now I have to ask myself this: Do those people have a right to be upset that their "wedding" was so rudely interrupted? Or did this serve as a healthy eye-opener to the ludicracy of the situation and a much needed return to reality for all persons involved?

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that while I believe these online relationships may indeed be very strong, there comes a point where you're just going taking this "fantasy" too far. There comes a point where you have to face reality, not escape it. Otherwise we will lose our ability to deal with problems in the real world.

    Caller: "When his pet hamster died he yelled, 'Mommy, mommy, where's the reset button?' Lazlo, life does not have a reset button." Lazlo: "But this radio show does! -click- I love that button..."

    • A MMORPG is a strange place where to hold a wedding.

      Now in SL that sort of thing seems to happen pretty often. I'm not aware of the details because I don't get involved in things of the sort, but I think you can even rent a private simulator (part of SL run on one CPU) and make it private so that there can't be interruptions.
    • Your friend is an idiot, and he has deliberately harassed people during an online event. Thats what it means. It doesnt matter whether it is allowed by that game's rules or not - it is an uncivil act. If you need an analogy, there are still countries/cultures in the world that allows you go eye for en eye -> you can legally kill someone who accidentally dropped a brick on one of your close relative's head killing him/her.

      Story tells me that your friend was a socially disturbed wannabee. Which, i can e
      • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:38AM (#20506877) Homepage Journal
        isn't it about swordplay and magic and killing things? it's called escapism: a place for people to go and do things they can't do in real life. therefore, you can't hold the standards of behavior of reality against it

        so the guy made a bloody raiding party on a wedding. in reality, that's front page horrible news. in everquest, it seems to me to be par for the course

        why do you expect any different, why do you think you ever could expect any different? everquest: people have swords and spells. they hurt things. that's the whole damn point of it to begin with: pointless violent escapism. and that's not bad: it's a harmless outlet

        i don't think you are deluded. i don't think you are taking something too seriously. i just don't think you understand the rules here
        • isn't it about swordplay and magic and killing things? it's called escapism: a place for people to go and do things they can't do in real life. therefore, you can't hold the standards of behavior of reality against it


          True. In real life, I would be very annoyed if some evil-doer raided my wedding, cut me into pieces, and cast a paralyze spell on my bride. :)
      • "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory" espoused by Penny Arcade some years ago.
      • Your friend is an idiot, and he has deliberately harassed people during an online event. Thats what it means. It doesnt matter whether it is allowed by that game's rules or not - it is an uncivil act. If you need an analogy, there are still countries/cultures in the world that allows you go eye for en eye -> you can legally kill someone who accidentally dropped a brick on one of your close relative's head killing him/her.

        Yup, and if I was in the groom's place, I'd be ready to kill that wedding crasher.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Your friend is an idiot, and he has deliberately harassed people during an online event. Thats what it means. It doesnt matter whether it is allowed by that game's rules or not - it is an uncivil act.

        Wow. It's an on-line multi-player game in which people get to pretend to be whoever they want, and do things they couldn't do in normal life without getting killed, arrested, or what have you.

        Calling it an un-civil act implies that in a world where you can kill anyone you feel like without recourse has an expe

      • by zentinal (602572)

        Really?

        So following the rules of the game, playing in character if that character happens to be an orc or dark elf or undead whatever or evil magic user, and having that character do something evil makes the person behind the character a socially disturbed wannabee? Instead, I'd say that makes them an involved and effective player who is adding to the fun of the in-game world.

        If you're in an MMORPG, and it allows PVP, isn't this type of action exactly what people are paying and playing for?

        In the case o

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by daeg (828071)
      If only honorable knights could show up at every wedding and slay half the family. It'd be a quick, guilt-free way to get rid of that pesky Mother-in-Law that seriously won't stop coming by unannounced ten times a week who manages to break in through your locks despite them being changed and having a deadbolt added and calling your significant other 15 times a day to make sure you're not beating them and are providing enough food and making sure you really do plan to buy a house despite you being in college
    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:37AM (#20506857) Homepage
      I don't see the problem. The internet is just a communication-medium. Sure they've got the right to be pissed.

      Nobody was physically harmed, but quite possibly somone had their fun spoiled. Purposefully destroying the fun of others is rude, regardless of how it happens.

      Similarily, if you're sitting in a park and having a quiet talk with someone, you'd be annoyed at someone who decided to leave their ghetto-blaster, playing the soundtrack of a porn-movie at full volume 2 meters away from you. This action too, hurts noone physically (aslong as it's not loud enough to be hearing-damaging) but nevertheless I think you'd find most people would be annoyed at it.

      Is it ridicoloous for an amateur theatre-group to have a play where a wedding is part of it ?

      And if not, why would it be more or less ridicolous if the players use online avatars rather than their own physical bodies ?

      Does the ridicolousness change if some of the players involved have a crush on eachothers ? It's not as if it's unheard of for actors who *play* a couple to also *be* a couple. (or to become one during the period of the play)

      I guess I just don't get it. Are relationships that depend in part or in whole on letters, telephones or any other method of communication not "real" ? Why'd it make a difference if your messages go trough the internet rather than trough the telephone-network ?

      In all cases you're talking to real people. In all cases there's a real chance that one of the involved persons are less than completely honest. That's part of life, nothing new about it.

      Maybe I'm biased. My first girlfriend I learned to know to a significant part trough writing old-fashioned letters. We had 2-3 wonderful years together. My wife I met trough exchanging email. I find the two situations to be very similar, and don't see what's so special about one being "online" and the other being in "real life" at all. If we'd been chatting or role-playing together online, I don't know what the fundamental difference between that and telephone should be.
      • by gardyloo (512791)

        Is it ridicoloous for [...] why would it be more or less ridicolous if [...] Does the ridicolousness change if [...]
        That's ridiculous!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zakezuke (229119)

        Nobody was physically harmed, but quite possibly somone had their fun spoiled. Purposefully destroying the fun of others is rude, regardless of how it happens.

        How do you know their fun wasn't spoiled. I don't play Everquest but I'm thinking this would sound like grand fun. Wedding party crashed, guests slaughtered, wife kidnapped. This sounds like a good vehicle to organize a quest to get her back.

        Similarily, if you're sitting in a park and having a quiet talk with someone, you'd be annoyed at someone who decided to leave their ghetto-blaster, playing the soundtrack of a porn-movie at full volume 2 meters away from you. This action too, hurts noone physically (aslong as it's not loud enough to be hearing-damaging) but nevertheless I think you'd find most people would be annoyed at it.

        Well, with the social rules vary from place to place, but this is generally accepted as being rude. Most public parks have rules regarding noise pollution. Skate parks ghetto-blasters and music are often par for the course. I don't see this as being an issue as

    • GIFT (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tumbarumba (74816)
      Another example of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory in action.

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19 [penny-arcade.com]

    • Myth (Score:2, Informative)

      by MichailS (923773)
      You can't pick up and carry a player in Everquest.

      Also, a paralyze works for like 5 seconds or some such.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Loosifur (954968)
      Similar thing happened in WoW with a funeral. I think it was an in-game funeral for someone's character who allegedly died IRL, but I'm not sure. The video's floating around on YouTube I believe. Point is, not only was it hilarious, but it's kind of the nature of the beast. If you are on a PvP server, where the rules dictate that you can be attacked and killed while you're in certain areas at any time, you have to expect that someone might actually do it. In this case, the funeral folks were whining that th
  • MMORPGs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by endianx (1006895) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:15AM (#20506599)
    The author doesn't mention this, but I would just like to state that this usually does not apply to MMORPGs. I have seen "friendships" breakup so someone could boost their Stamina. While I'm sure some real friendships do take hold in that environment, most are purely superficial. Or at least that has been my experience in my 6 or so years of online gaming.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shivani1141 (996696)
      Wait... what?

      Being a recovering wow Addict, and Having spent nearly the whole of it's release period playing it (310 days played, total) I can say with utmost certainty that you develop real relationships with the players you've known for so much time. it cannot be avoided. if you avoid it, the game just won't consume 300 days of your time. Even now, having quit the game (I no longer PLAY it) I still maintain an account, not to attend raids or do dungeons, but simply to log on and chat with friends
      • by Runefox (905204)
        And if my experience is any indication, the response should usually be:

        "Sorry, I'm in an instance."

        "Raiding, bbl."

        "Cant talk now, fighting (x boss)" ... And so on. Can you really blame them for wanting to play the game they're shelling lots of good money out to access, though?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by endianx (1006895)

          Can you really blame them for wanting to play the game they're shelling lots of good money out to access, though?

          Not at all. But some people don't think that way. Recently, a friend of mine lost a lot of his "friends" to another guild. He thought he was good friends with these people, but now they don't talk. I explained exactly what you said. This is a video game. The point is to have fun. That can mean making friends, but more often it just means "phat lewtz!!1".

          I have seen real relationships formed, but for every one of those I have seen twenty superficial relationships ended by the promise of better loot

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Cro Magnon (467622)
            IME, a huge percentage of real-life relationships are equally superficial. One of my ex-cow-orkers, who I thought of as a friend, vanished of the face of the earth after he retired. That is no different from the online friendships.
  • by The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:26AM (#20506727)
    I have had many meaningful conversations with my best online buddy Elisa. She wont agree to meet in the real world though.
  • it can work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by trybywrench (584843) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:30AM (#20506777)
    I know multiple couples who are now married, 2 of which have children, who met online in a band's message forum (Eisley's Laughing City) so it can work. I've dated a couple girls through the forum but i don't have the personality for long distance relationships. With one I was very much in love but the distance just erodes things away.

    I always shake my head when i hear respected professionals denounce online relationships as fake. It just goes to show they have no understanding of the online culture.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      I always shake my head when i hear respected professionals denounce online relationships as fake. It just goes to show they have no understanding of the online culture.

      I'd argue that if you're not having sex at least once a week your relationship is fake whether it's online or not.
      • Does that include every marriage beyond the first year?
        • by Hatta (162192)
          Absolutely. If your wife thinks that once you're married she's won and doesn't need to have sex anymore, there was never any relationship there to begin with. Just a deceitful bitch. If she doesn't care about you enough to want to make you feel good once in a while, leave.
      • My girlfriend and I have been dating for.. Shit >.> 7 months yesterday... and our relationship is fine even though we never have sex (literally, 7 months, I haven't gotten any) but that's fine, because I'd rather she be ready to have sex and whatnot.
  • by thenextpresident (559469) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:31AM (#20506799) Homepage Journal
    We met back in 2001 on what now is FreeNode's #php channel. This past summer, we finally tied the knot. I ended up moving up to be with here (I was living in Pennsylvania at the time. She was living in Montreal). We are happily married, and have been a happy couple ever since we first started being a couple. Both of us are absolutely thrilled at the way we met. I've also developed a rather one-sided opinion that programming chat rooms are great places to pick up chicks. =)
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:32AM (#20506803)
    This month, a friend of mine I have known for over a decade flew accross the country to meet me in person for the first time. We had been friends since we worked on a failed project to produce an Open Source Mega Man video game that got to a certain point then failed. We stayed IRC friends for for 11 years, and he came to visit me for 6 days in August. This isn't to say I don't have friends in the real world that come visit me too, I do. but I had always known who he was, and he and I were really friends.

    Now. Relationships are another matter. Relationships need an element of physical proximity. They fall apart anyway. I wouldn't feel comfortable in an online relationship. Long distance relationships generally don't work out even when its telephone conversations.
    • While it's true that you need that physical proximity to elevate the relationship, the relationship can start with and grow online without proximity. Besides, if you are in a real relationship, and you really want to be with the person, making the move to be with them isn't a difficult thing to do.
      • While Human being sex drives are not genetically programmed, this plays a role here. For example, alot of people here are talking about Second Life, and EverQuest, and WoW, are you in love with the person? Or are you in love with the avatar?

        Text based mediums create a different issue. Your much more likely to find out about a real person because they aren't quite so obviously playing a game. In the case of text media like IRC, are you in love with that person? or are you in love with the person created in y
  • strawman? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:38AM (#20506873) Homepage Journal
    I wonder what the actual percentage of 'relationships' online have turned out where one of them was being clearly deceitful, i.e. a male pretending to be female. It's probably really really low, yet people have this unreal anxiety that they can't trust someone simply because they haven't met them face to face.

    Sure, caution is needed, but many people are finding love online, and if it works for them, can't we be happy for them? It's hard to meet people in today's society. It's not like we have town dances or whatever the devil they did 100 years ago. (yes, i'm sure some town's have dances still). And really, in the 19th and early 20th century many relationships developed via letters. My grandmother used to send daily 'what's up' postcards to people in the next town before phones, and when phones came along I'm sure many people new each other first only through that medium. So I don't think this is a new phenomenon. If you make the assumption that the other person is honest and fall in love with them, and that assumption is correct, you win. If it somehow isn't, well, there are 50 ways to leave your lover.

    Based off what I've seen, we could all use more lovin, online or otherwise. Won't get it as easy by pigeonholing your possible relationships avenues.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Sure, caution is needed, but many people are finding love online, and if it works for them, can't we be happy for them? It's hard to meet people in today's society. It's not like we have town dances or whatever the devil they did 100 years ago.

      Nonsense. I met my wife because, while visiting a friend, I said 'hi' over the fence to his neighbor while out having a smoke on the porch. (I knew her well enough to chat with as I'd been over to my friends multiple times.) The neighbor introduced me (just by way

  • I met my wife on soc.penpals 14 years ago. She was living in South Africa at the time while I was living in the US. We have been married now for 10 1/2 years. Yesterday, when she was pissed at me for tracking mud into the house, I'd hardly say our relationship was a "fantasy".
  • Remember the whole concept of pen pals, and the love that can sometimes come from it? Online is no different; It's completely anonymous, so you're each depending on each other to at least tell the truth in some regard, and it completely bypasses the physical realm, which I'm sure many people find an interesting concept. The only real difference comes in that it's a lot more instantaneous, that it's much more interactive at times. While I'm sure games are possible with a pen pal, you can't hook up and blow e
  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:46AM (#20506989) Journal
    ...that makes you wish /. had "+1 OMG Say it's not so" moderation points.
  • Various types (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IvoryKnight (1153233)
    The idea that relationships online aren't real is, as said multiple times above, is absurd. A relationship regardless of where it forms and in what form it takes is real. You can compare online relationships with relationships you develop at work. You encounter those people only at work and have varying degrees of intensity in the relationship between simply saying hi to each other out of a sense of "we both work here" to inviting a dude over to your cookout. Most work-born relationships stay at work.
  • by e2d2 (115622) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:50AM (#20507023)
    That's what I tell myself when I catch two elves in the basement of Goldshire Inn behind the Kegs, coming out smoking long bottom leaf with a creepy smiles on their blushed faces.

    EVERYTHING OKAY. Proceed with life

  • Matter of Definition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday September 07, 2007 @09:50AM (#20507027) Homepage Journal
    ``Relationships are real wherever they form.''

    That sounds like it wasn't what you expected. Apparently,
    people have some idea that relationships should only
    developed through normal means, for some definition of normal.

    And there, I said the magic word: definition. What is the
    definition of relationship? When is a relationship real? What
    means are normal?

    My feeling is that this is going to be similar to the question
    whether machines can think. Some people define thinking in a way
    that machines can't possibly satisfy (usually, the argument is
    exactly "if a machine does it, it's not thinking"). Other people
    use definitions where thinking machines are always just around
    the corner, but never actually there. And some people use
    definitions by which we've had thinking machines for a long
    time now.

    As for relationships, I think that, no matter what your definition
    of a relationship is, the (real) feelings you get from interacting
    in a virtual world are about the same as those you would get if
    the interaction had happened in the Real World. For me, that makes
    the relationship real.

    Of course, some aspects of relationships that develop in the Real World
    will be missing from relationships that develop in some virtual
    reality. On the other hand, there may be things in virtual reality
    relationships that aren't in Real World relationships. There are
    some very interesting effects here. For example, there are great
    opportunities for misrepresenting and hiding things...in both virtual
    and Real relationships.

    Virtual reality being virtual, it also provides great opportunities for
    experimentation. Some people never get past the "let's offend people
    and see what happens" stage, but other people go much, much further.
    Some people get married and/or have children in virtual reality, and
    I think that this gives them some insight in what it
    would feel like if they did the same thing in Real Life. To me, this
    seems a valuable experience. And I'd much rather this experiment be
    run in virtual reality with virtual children than in Real Life with
    Real children.

    All this is my 2 cents, of course, but those cents have been given to
    me as the result of having both Real World and virtual reality
    relationships, and even some that were both.
  • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:19AM (#20507383) Journal
    Whether you're hooked on Day of Defeat or the latest XBox Live game, the real-life consequences are negligible (unless you forget to eat or something). Traditionally (if one can use such a word about the online media) games are relatively simple affairs. Do something, get a reward. Whee. Big deal.

    However, during the last decade or so, games have developed an entirely new facet: social structure. Be it World of Warcraft or Second Life (is that even a game? I can't decide), people are getting deeply involved not only with the game itself but with each other, albeit in a virtual world. One might even say that actually playing the game is less important than being socially active in its context.

    When social interactions become a part of the picture, changes occur in the balance between gaming and living. There separation between the game world and the real world begins to blur and fade as players make connections between game-world and real-world values. We have already seen people defining their real-life life by their in-game personas, businesses, and achievements. And this may be a problem. Maybe it's not very apparent now, but this kind of game is a relatively new phenomenon.

    If a person forms a relationship in Second Life (for instance), there are bound to be more than virtual feelings involved. This is fundamentally different from being, say, a GTA addict. In GTA, one can be a car-stealin', cop-beatin' badass, and still be a loving family member (assuming that person can tell one world from the other).

    A player's character would not start a virtual relationship with another player's ditto unless there is some emotional bond between the players themselves. One would have to be particularly schizophrenic (that's a joke) or an unnaturally good role player to claim that there is no conflict of interest between having a real-life relationship with one person and having an online romance with another. It would take a very well-spoken husband to convince his wife that he is happily married.

    More and more, your online persona is a reflection and augmentation of your actual self. And yes, this is the case even if your online persona is Batman or GothGirl -- however radically different from your physical appearance, it's still a form of self-realization. Unless you're seriously schizophrenic (again with the humour...).

    The old mantra that "on the Internet, nobody know you're a dog" is being obsoleted. Perhaps it should be replaced by "if you die in the game, you die for real" (what movie is that from again?). My point is that as games become ever more social, they're not just games anymore. Online romances equal emotional unfaithfulness and should be taken seriously.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:25AM (#20507441) Journal
    They had a common interest, and corresponded from an email list. They found each other really entrancing from the emails, and after 8 months, he bought a plane ticket to visit her. They clicked, and were married a year later.

    They've been married for almost 10 years now, and are doing just fine.

    If it works - it works - nothing wrong with it. Lord knows it's better than going to Yente the Matchmaker...

    Hodel, oh Hodel,
    Have I made a match for you!
    He's handsome, he's young!
    Alright, he's 62.
    But he's a nice man, a good catch, true?
    True.

    I promise you'll be happy,
    And even if you're not,
    There's more to life than that---
    Don't ask me what.

    Chava, I found him.
    Won't you be a lucky bride!
    He's handsome, he's tall,
    That is from side to side.
    But he's a nice man, a good catch, right?
    Right.

    You heard he has a temper.
    He'll beat you every night,
    But only when he's sober,
    So you're alright.

    Did you think you'd get a prince?
    Well I do the best I can.
    With no dowry, no money, no family background
    Be glad you got a man!

    Brrrrr. Between Yente, and the millions of Arranged Marriages that go down Every Single Year to this present day, and the resulting resentment and far-too-common acts of violence [wikipedia.org], I think if people can find love in this hypersexualised culture it doesn't really matter what medium it takes to make that connection.

    One of my very best friends met his wife through an advertisement in one of those cheezy urban free weekly newspaper. (SWM seeks SF, etc.) 14 years later - they're still fine and loving, with two adorable kids.

    So it doesn't matter: SWM ISO SWF, OKCUPID.COM, or alt.tasteless - love is good where-ever you find it - as long as it is true.

    RS

  • Virtual relationships can make you suffer for real.
  • by alvinrod (889928) on Friday September 07, 2007 @10:35AM (#20507559)
    I've been around technology long enough to see some of the ups and downs of online relationships. I've met people online, both male and female, with whom I've developed good bonds of friendships. I've never 'e-dated' anyone, but I've seen plenty of people do it.

    I've played World of Warcraft for the last year and a half or so and when that many people come together it's only natural that some of them develop relationships. Sometimes these things turn out really good and the people actually start seeing each other in real life if they're physically close enough to do so. I don't know if it's happened on the server I've played on, but I have heard of people getting married after meeting in an online game after e-dating for a while and eventually getting to know each other better in real life.

    Of course there are also the horror stories of online dating as well. I've seen relationships that haven't worked out and it makes some people bitter. There have been people kicked from guilds or guilds that have been broken up over the drama caused by some online relationships. The worst (and perhaps the funniest) thing I've ever seen is when two people who were e-dating on our server broke up and the girl posted some pictures of the guy posing naked in front of a webcam for her. The thread managed to last overnight before the GM's removed it, but a substantial portion of the server got to see a guy grabbing his junk and trying to strike a sexy pose.

    One of my friends had a younger brother who met someone online and recently moved to live with them on the east coast after visiting and having a good time. I think there are a lot of people who scoff the idea of online relationships, but with the technology we have in the world today, I think they can be a good thing. Of course when the people in them don't act intelligently they can turn out bad and people you know see you wearing nothing but a smile on the internet.
  • I am able to relate to the "Joe Trykoski and Michelle Pignatano" story all to well.

    Eight years ago I separated from my (then) wife - a marriage that soon lead to the following:

    ME: What happened to you saying you would do 'this', and be 'this' way and do 'these' things... HER: I told you exactly what you wanted to hear me say for you to marry me.

    I couldn't believe it. The hell with it, I served divorce papers and within the next 30 days I decided to (for the first time) try an online dating service.

    Withi

  • This isn't science (Score:4, Insightful)

    by athloi (1075845) on Friday September 07, 2007 @11:02AM (#20507915) Homepage Journal
    This is writing by a columnist, not a study or any kind of rigorous analysis. It is written by someone whose job is to celebrate and market sexual neurosis as a way of spicing up Wired's otherwise geek-heavy material. It is not science. It doesn't even pretend.

    This reminder brought to you by the people out there who haven't yet succumbed to iPhone-style hype religion about the internet, technology or humanity.

    Thank you for reading. You will now be returned to your regular neurotic programming.
  • by parchedhusk (1103693) on Friday September 07, 2007 @11:21AM (#20508165)
    I thought I would share my little story of "online relationships". I have a profile up at a site that caters to a gay demographic, and on there I've got about like 12-13 pictures and a little blurb.
    Anyway, so one day I get a message on there which read something like: "Why are you using a dead guy's pictures?". This puzzled me so I replied that in fact I'm using my own pictures. His reply to that "No, the pictures you are using are of a guy named such-and-such and he lives in [a town like 26 states over] and he recently passed away and you suck for using his pictures".
    Anyway, I won't go into details here, but I offered to prove to him that I was the person in the pictures, not because I felt like any particular need to prove it, but because I felt like he needed some closure. And so we did (webcam does the trick nicely).
    Anyway, then the story came out - he'd been talking to someone on craigslist of all places who posted an ad with my pictures. They got into it quite heavily (though obviously they never met), talking every day and such. Finally, when this other guy got bored of the game he invented a cyber-death and had his "sister" email the original guy to tell him that her brother is dead.
    Long story short, it was interesting to examine this situation. The poor man, he seemed totally crushed. He even told me at the end that he could never really get to know me as a person, since he's tied my pictures to whatever personality the liar invented. For my part, I also felt very bad - I'd almost say guilty - even though I did nothing wrong. And I really pitied the guy - his emotions were wracked in a very real way, even though the entire thing occurred online, and even though, let's face it, he should have known better.
  • Why Not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by friend.ac (1071626) on Friday September 07, 2007 @11:37AM (#20508371) Homepage
    I think meeting people online is a great way to meet new and interesting people, with the added fact that you *generally* get an idea about a person from their profile or what they say without the hassle of shouting into their ear in a bar or the discomfort of a first date. I went onto a couple of sites when I first moved to Vancouver, in addition to meeting people in day-to-day situations, online helped me meet quite a few new and interesting people that I wouldn't have met in a strange city. Indeed I first started chatting to a girl a 2 years ago and we kept in touch via the site and msn for several months before going on a first date - we've just got married and she's 5 months pregnant (wahoo).

    Obviously there's dangers to meeting people and forming relationships online, but there's similar dangers to meeting someone in a store or in a bar - the advantage that online provides is you can figure out generally if the person is genuine, their likes and dislikes and it *can* save several dates and then realizing you like different things.

    If it worked for me.. it can work for anyone else.. but just like everyday life, you have to keep your wits about you.
  • ELIZA (Score:3, Funny)

    by RoaldFalcon (1079467) on Friday September 07, 2007 @02:30PM (#20511877)
    I used to chat online with someone named ELIZA. She was always very attentive to everything I said. She wanted to know everything about me and my parents. You can't tell me that wasn't real!
  • by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Friday September 07, 2007 @03:25PM (#20512665) Homepage Journal
    They existed solely in your head. Most people can also find someone who has a relationship with them in their head.
    There is no two way communication. There is your feeling towards someone else, it does not mean they have the same relationship with you.

    Fortunately, when the fantasy is smashed, most people can get up and go on..but some keep living their fantasy until they believe it is true.

    The problem with online relationships, is that people bond(i.e. have mutualy ralationship fantasy) without key data. Looks, mannerisms, daily behaviour off line.
    All of which is important, for very real reasons.

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