Saturday, March 19, 2011

Internet Dating and Relationships: Is it real or a safety net?

In this advanced age of technology where pretty much every home has at least one computer and cell phone we humans are still a very tactile species and still have a desire to find that special ‘someone’.
Are they out there? You ask. Now, don’t get ahead of the writing I’ll get to that.
What I want to focus on is the main topic on hand.
Is internet dating a possibility or are we all still pretty much left in a pixelated fog when it comes to relationships and the internet.

Dating in general is scary at best.
Exposing yourself and your interests to strangers can either be met by intrigue or revulsion and dealing with rejection can leave you prepared to go on or give you the desire to pack it in and hide for a while.
Putting yourself in the hot seat and giving the best first impression when meeting or talking can in many cases make or break the deal.
Having a bad day when you’re meeting someone who doesn’t really know you doesn’t count and there are mostly, no ‘do overs’ especially in this era of immediacy.
Granted there is no real rush for any of us to run out and find the right one, or the right one for right now but, somewhere deep in our psyches there is a switch that lets us know that intrinsically for most of us there is a need to be with another individual who can accept us for who we are, respect us and be our counterpart.
Some are driven to be married by a certain point, or have children and even in this day one can still feel those pressures despite how different times are from say, 50 years ago.
We are given more opportunity and choice but, at the same time in spite of being opened up to the whole world via the internet and other mediums we’ve become even more reclusive. Many hide behind the useful technology provided to us via our computers to communicate, which is ironic since you are talking but you aren’t really interacting in a more personal sense.

Here is one definition of dating: Dating is any social activity performed as a pair or even a group with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as their partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. The word refers to the act of agreeing on a time and "date" when a pair can meet and engage in some social activity.
There are an incredible amount of social sites, online dating sites and the like that offer the ability to date online.
To me this is an oxymoron since dating apparently entails meeting the indivual in person to get to know them.
There is the ability to chat and get to know someone to a degree online but the lack of physical interaction leaves one cold since you can’t read an expression, or hear a tone.
Yes, there are verbal chat programs and web cams and that has opened up things even more for prospective daters but, once again is it enough.
Let’s analyze this a bit further shall we?

This is the point where you sign up on a dating or a social networking site and get to know some individuals with potential, then you narrow it down and chat more intimately.
We sit at our computers and type relentlessly to people we’ve never met, people we may want to meet but, for the most part let’s look at this realistically we’ll probably never meet.
You may open up a great deal and get to know them but are they really dating potential?
How much can you get to know someone that you chat to on a computer screen, yes you can share secrets, information, desires, wants and needs but is that really who they are and what they want? How much can you believe what is typed out to you through a computer instead of sitting across or beside someone and seeing their face as they speak?
Maybe you’ll think I’m not being fair to the online medium and I know it has worked for some people but, for the most part is it really a viable option?
I’ve come across a great many people who have told me about people online who were not as they seemed when they chatted with them or were only wasting time and had never any real intention of honestly getting to know them other than exchanging conversations online.
People can alter photos or put up pictures of other people in their place, deceive you about who you are in regards to age, and everything else they tell you and yes, that can happen when meeting in person but, with the online system being so popular one really  has to regard their options carefully.

There are online predators and stalkers like there are in real life and they can prey on you under the pretense of wanting to know you and forging a relationship.
Time wasters who are available in great abundance who are only there to gain some perverse pleasure with internal popularity by the interest they may draw, and in kind provide no real substance to those who are in fact truly looking.
Many won’t go any further than chatting online or providing virtual sex which if you really look at it, is no comfort at all.
Where is the point in this potential mating match up that you broach meeting? Will they meet up with you at all or waste your time, and at which point do you draw the line and realize that your time is precious and you are indeed getting nowhere?
You can maintain a friendship with people that you shared an interest with but, even then how much is it popularity and fa├žade for their own interest?

How many of us have been suckered into believing that the person is interested only to find out they were lacking genuine interest in what you have to offer and use you as a yoyo? Pulling you in when they were lonely and needing attention and casting you away when they’d found someone else to quell their interests?
I’m sure a few of us.
The internet can inbue us with a sense of familiarity and comfort but, really I think only to a certain degree.
The human element is missing.
I’ve found throughout the years, the best way to gauge interest is to watch a persons eyes, their body language and the way they communicate with you in person.
I feel you can’t really know someone until you’ve spent time with them in person getting to know their habits, traits and even the more personal elements of smell, touch and laughter.
Yes, those are all very important.
You can’t hug someone through a computer screen try as you might, and to consider someone you’ve never met or known in person and probably never will your partner or bff is pure folly.
I enjoy the internet for all it has to offer, I really do and I’ve met some interesting people online but, where do you draw the line when it comes to dating and relationships?
I find the internet is a great tool for meeting, chatting and initiating but, it’s up to us to take it further and really know the individual with personal contact.
It’s somewhat delusional to believe that you’re having a relationship with someone you’re chatting to online, you may as well believe the avatar in the video game you’re playing is your mate. There is no physicality, and no matter how in depth the conversation may seem to go if you really look at it closely you’ll see so many key elements that are missing.
I think for many, the internet is a safety net.
You can hide behind the computer and protect yourself and maintain a great distance between yourself and others if that is what you want but, in reality the internet and online dating is in a reality a crapshoot at best.
It can work for some with dating services but you have to realize there is a point where you have to step out from behind the protection of your screen and take that next step to initiate an actual relationship.

Sparking interest and a relationship from online can indeed happen but, don’t look to it as being the only way in which you relate and get together with others in our wonderfully colorful race.
Your computer is a tool with which it can spread it’s tendrils across the globe to connect to others but, don’t look to it to sustain your relationships. Dating is difficult at best and with so many options at our disposal it can complicate as well as find us better matches for our vast array of needs and wants.
Go out and meet others in person, interact and never forget that human contact is far more important than you will really understand in this our vastly abundant age of technology. Finally, realizing that the lines between reality and virtual reality should never be blurred when it comes to matters of the heart will give you the best advantage when going forth to try to find someone to share your life, time and emotion with.
It’s a great big world filled with incredible people, and your dating equal is out there waiting to meet you, in person.

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