Casablanca - There is this boy or girl with whom you have been chatting for about 6 months on the net. He/she is the incarnation of the ideal life mate you have been striving to encounter in real life, but vainly. She/he gives you the feeling that you have known him/her for so long ago. She/he understands you better than anyone else does, and he/she is always there when you are in dire need to speak to him/her. Well, the sole issue in this ideal scenario is that you have never met this person in real life. He/she is always ‘there,’ but not ‘there’ in person.
Casablanca – There is this boy or girl with whom you have been chatting for about 6 months on the net. He/she is the incarnation of the ideal life mate you have been striving to encounter in real life, but vainly. She/he gives you the feeling that you have known him/her for so long ago. She/he understands you better than anyone else does, and he/she is always there when you are in dire need to speak to him/her. Well, the sole issue in this ideal scenario is that you have never met this person in real life. He/she is always ‘there,’ but not ‘there’ in person.
Those virtual ‘others’ peculiarly know everything about you, and you are becoming increasingly ‘clingstoned’ to their virtual presence. Do you really know who they are? Are they what they pretend to be? Are they worth exiling yourself from the world you were brought up in? Don’t you sense suspicion in the idealism of their scenarios?
Yes, you guessed right! This article is about virtual relationships and their reverberations on people. Just as information technology staggeringly substituted many of our customary activities and tasks, it has also introduced a new way of approaching human relationships. Multitudinous are dating websites, chat forums, and relationship networks that encourage this type of ‘virtual relationships’ under the pretext that a virtual acquaintance with the ‘other’ spares us the energy and time that the first phases of a real relationship relatively absorb from us. But to what extent is this reasonable, and what about when the virtual medium rather aggravates the already existing tragedies that human relationships engender?
How many times did we come across web users on the net, who appeared to be the ideal friends/soul mates for us? How many times did these virtual individuals prove to be completely the opposite of what they pretended to be since we first knew them, thus signaling the end of our phantasmagoric paintings of an unprecedented, enduring and “real” relationship with them, a relationship that, in most cases, never translates into reality?
Are all those profile pictures and videos they share with us, and all those accounts and daylong interactions we engage in with them truthful, or fake? Are our virtual relationships built on mutual interests, or does each one of us have aims that are acutely distinct from—or sometimes diametrical to—the one on the other side of the sphere? Answers to these queries are most of the time unpleasant. Worse, one asks them only when it is too late.
Admittedly, virtual relationships sometimes culminate in ‘happy endings’, but scarce are those instances. The things we ignore about the ‘other’ outnumber the things we know about him/her. Even those things we pretend to known are for the most part questionable, for their truth is constructed on subjective and impalpable evidence, viz. promises, future projects, etc.
What people do not realize is that a long time might elapse without them getting the chance to meet their ‘virtual favorites’ in real life. This occurs either because the person on the other end adeptly escapes any request for an actual meeting, or because the distance encumbers an actual, face-to-face encounter.
Deplorably, a person might not realize that the other web user is taking profit of him/her until it is too late. People we meet on the net do not always innocently request our friendship or display an unprecedented kindness, gentleness or devotion towards us. How many times have we heard of persons who lost their bank accounts after communicating their confidential bank details to those ‘trustworthy’ individuals they have been regularly chatting with? To have someone chatting with us for, let’s say, over a year does not forcibly rationalize any sort of reckless act similar to the one previously cited (bank account example).
Our seemingly flawless and enduring virtual relationship with an individual might be part of series of other relationships with other web users, with whom the person we ‘know’ might have started and sustained relationships in the same fashion for a given preplanned, and in most cases, malicious project. Thus, time does not vindicate our condemnatory and precipitous actions.
One way to elucidate one’s addiction to spend more time talking to an anonymous ‘other’, rather than to real individuals is because those virtual ‘others’ are so adept in generating ‘sweet platitudes’. They expertly make us hear what we want to hear, at the right time, saying it so smoothly that it fits in the context of the virtual conversation, thus appearing to be sincere, concerned, and magically understanding.
Those who feel sort of rejected or depreciated in their real lives are the ones who easily yield to the interactional strategies of those ‘virtual strangers’, who take intelligent advantage of one’s vulnerability to mold an idealistic atmosphere for us, thus imprisoning us in their ‘utopian’ accounts. No wonder why some web users attempt suicide when they realize that either their virtual ‘ideal person’, who for so long made them feel appreciated and highly regarded, is an impostor, or that he/she, alas, unpredictably vanish.
Is this all a price to be paid for an ‘ideal relationship’ with an unknown individual, whose face, voice and words might not be his/her proprieties; whose reasons for spending a considerable amount of his time chatting with us do not match ours; and who might vanish tomorrow as erratically as he/she appeared in our lives the first day. How many other aspects of our human existence are we to ‘virtualize’ and substitute digitally? And what is the price to pay for that?
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