General Question

josie's avatar

Are "virtual relationships" really valid, or are they just a novelty?

Asked by josie (29333points) November 27th, 2010

I got involved in Answer Bag in that gap between getting shit done during the day and before I went to bed.
Then, AB changed badly, and one of the people I sort of liked suggested that I should go to Fluther.
So, I did.
And now, when I have time between work, working out, my girlfriend (whom I love dearly) and the other duties of existence, I check in on Fluther.
It is clear to me that there are personalities on Fluther that I feel an affinity toward, even though I really do not know anything about them other than their questions and comments on the site.
For example, I think that I have a thing for @lucillelucillelucille, even though I figure she is married, and I have the perfect relationship with the love of my life.
I think I would like to go to a football game or go fishing with @cruiser
I think it would be fun to get drunk with @ETPro
I think it would be fun to get into a fight with @Zen, and I am pretty sure I would put him in the hospital.
But it is all bullshit, is it not?
Or is it?

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22 Answers

troubleinharlem's avatar

Well, I wouldn’t say that these particular relationships are valid when you don’t really know anything about them except for what types of questions they ask and what types they tend to answer. If you got to know them, however, whether through instant messaging/email/phone, etc., then it would be a semi-valid relationship. If you guys became friends and such, then that would be a relationship also.

Relationships don’t have these “invisible boundaries”, in my opinion. It doesn’t matter whether they’re online, on the phone, in letters, or anything. A relationship is a relationship.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
iamthemob's avatar

I don’t think that’s bullshit at all. Of course, I think that the people that you feel like you might get into it with in person you might be a little softer with in person – mostly because tone and facial cues are easier to read than just the text alone.

Then again, who knows? I’ve met people offline that I knew online, and they’ve said that I’m pretty much the way I come off on the computer. Which always makes me concerned that most of the time people may very well have that “virtual front.”

josie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille That is my point. I sometimes think I believe it. But I have no reason to believe it. I may be an innocent victim of technology. Oh well….

Jude's avatar

Lucy is awesome (met her in real life).

I came here when I was at a low point in my life and jellies helped me through those tough times. I got to know them well and with a bunch, we clicked. We keep in contact (often day to day) outside of Fluther. They are the ones that I would love to have as real life friends.

Actually, when reading mob’s post, I can see what he’s saying. For some, it could be a front (internet persona).

cookieman's avatar

Guy I work with at the farm was sampling apples and trying to get this woman’s attention.

“Nice lady, nice lady – come try a slice of apple” he says.

“How do you know I’m nice?” she replies wryly.

“Well,” he says, “if I got to know you, you’d likely be a nightmare – but between you, me and the apple, you’re nice enough right now.”

Internet relationships are kind of like that.

YARNLADY's avatar

To me it’s a lot like having pen pals. The write somethings about their life, and you have some interesting discussions. You find that you have some things in common, but unless you actually meet in person, it is only based on hearsay.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@josie -At the risk of sounding simplistic,it is what it is.It’s nothing more than chatting with time to think about what you say….except this response.I rattled it off without thinking about it.XD
@mama_cakes -It was very nice to meet you and you were in fact, alot like as you appear here,a very warm,likable woman. :)

Aethelwine's avatar

I’ve known people that have gotten hurt because the person they thought was a ‘friend’ they met online ended up being a liar and heartless. But then….

I’ve met some wonderful people that have sent my husband and I gifts, and spend time with us during my husband’s radio show. I’ve gotten to know them a bit better through Facebook, and I would love to meet them some day irl.

The hard part is knowing when to let your heart give a damn.

Right now, I would invite every person on this thread over for a cookout and bonfire. Just don’t say the F word in front of @YARNLADY. please!

cookieman's avatar

@jonsblond: “Frankfurter”?!

Aethelwine's avatar

@cprevite shhh! You should know better!

Jude's avatar


cookieman's avatar

@jonsblond: Sorry. Good thing I didn’t say “foot-long”.

Jude's avatar

Lucy is just as funny in real life as she is here.

Jude's avatar

I’d love to meet jonsblond, too.

gggritso's avatar

A virtual relationship is certainly a valid one, I just don’t consider it the same thing as an in-person relationship. I get along great with people I met online, and I consider many of them my friends, but not in the same way as my close friends from school, for example.

If you have a good “virtual relationship” with someone, that’s great, enjoy it, and pursue it into a personal relationship if you can. Just don’t except that it’ll be exactly the same when you meet. It can be, and if so, that’s wonderful, but if not, don’t be shocked.

I think it takes a long time to really know a person even if you’re close to them on a daily basis, and the Internet is an even larger gap.

In short, it’s not bullshit unless the person is bullshitting you.

Also, I think that even though @iamthemob is right in saying that many people use the Internet as a front, some people just can’t help but show themselves in a different light online. In person, I don’t have the luxury of thinking carefully about each thing I say ;)

wundayatta's avatar

The problem with virtual relationships is that we create a fantasy of the person we are interacting with and this fantasy feels full and complete although, in reality, it is far from either. The senses matter and we don’t know what someone smells like. We might hear their voice over the phone or even see them on video, but we don’t sing with them. We don’t walk through the woods with them and ride in a taxi with them, and we certainly don’t shake their hands or do anything else physical with them.

We sit at our computers, and in the absence of other sensory information, we make up stuff about that person. Sometimes that person becomes a good friend. Sometimes a lover. Sometimes a soul mate. Or so we believe.

Then we meet.

Some relationships do survive those meetings and may end up in marriages. Most, I believe, don’t go very much further because of all the missing data. It gets filled in in a very different way from what was expected.

Yet hope springs eternal. This time I know this person is just as she appears over the internet. This time it will work. This time, there will be bliss. And who knows, perhaps their will be.

All of these forms of relationship are valid, no matter now much information is included or is missing. However, because of our wild fantasies that we don’t even see ourselves creating,these relationships are also novelties. We blind ourselves to the truth because there is no truth around to put the lie to our fantasies. As such, fantasies are novelties. We can imagine any script and run it through our friends without either of us knowing that is happening.

It’s wonderful! Absolutely wonderful!

CaptainHarley's avatar

Online relationships are, like real life relationships, what we make of them.

downtide's avatar

I have met some wonderful people online, and I have online relationships that mean a lot to me. I’ve crossed the Atlantic for some of those people, and some have done the same for me.

mattbrowne's avatar

Not until we get haptic full-body suits.

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