Social Question

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

How do we form such strong attachments to people on the internet?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (23163points) December 17th, 2011

I have met several lovely women from this site, and from an old site called They are like sisters to me and I adore them!

In fact, I’m much closer to them than I am to some of my own family, even though we’ve never had the chance to meet face-to-face. We chat here and on crackbook facebook and the phone.

How is it that some people can form such strong attachments to people they’ve never met?

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26 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Personalities that match each other. When you find someone you beleive you can trust, you open up to them after a while. I have experienced this just one time on Answerbag and Fluther with one person and I do not even know their name.

Good friends are forever.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

My philosophy has always been that the internet forces us to communicate, where real life does not always do that.
When you are talking or typing with someone, you don’t have the things that we have face to face, like body language, you aren’t watching TV together, you aren’t sitting in a crowded bar or restaurant… you are forced to really talk. I think that makes it easy to quickly and sincerely develop attachments online.

I have had some of the same friends online for 10–15 years.

martianspringtime's avatar

I think the internet allows you to be more conversational. Sure, you can have plenty of great conversation face to face, but online all you can do really is have conversation. There are pictures and videos and webcams and mics and all of that, but it’s essentially about talking. You’re not as distracted by little things like what you look like at the moment or body language or the people around you (be that a good or bad thing).

I don’t necessarily think online is better than in real life, just that it forces you to talk about things rather than just sit around and watch tv together or sit in the same room texting other people. The whole point is communication.

Seelix's avatar

I dunno. But that kind of attachment is bringing me to answer a question when I promised myself I’d pop in, say hi and leave.

ohVaNiLLaGoRiLLa's avatar

The internet provides an environment for people to express their thoughts, feelings, interests, and the list goes on. For me over the past couple years I have acquired friends who I sincerely trust, not all of them have been face to face. I have met people playing video games who I have kept in contact with who know more about me than most of my friends in real life.

I have gone to these people who I have met online and I have found it very easy to share personal feelings with them after talking to them for a while. This is because, unlike people in real life, if they judge you or tell your secrets to their friends it would not matter because they are most likely many miles away. That also gives me confidence that they are not going to tell anyone else because no one else around them would want to listen. But even if the person you talked to told their friends they are still many miles away. So what is there to lose from just telling someone about your problems? As long as you do not give them any actual personal information like your phone number or your address or other personal information of that nature.

But you know you have a true friend in real life when you can tell them about your personal life better yet if they already know whats going on in your life because they are your friend and are there to help you.

Bellatrix's avatar

We are still people. We are just missing the visual and audible side of our personalities. I like to think the person I am comes through the things I say and how I say them when I am talking to you and the other people here I have come to care about. I have a strong sense of the inner you. I don’t know all the details about your life, but I have a good sense of the lovely person ‘you’ are.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Sharing personal thoughts, feelings, and interests can have that effect on people, even if they’ve never met face-to-face.

mazingerz88's avatar

It could be the fact that you’ve never met face to face that adds to the appeal. The connection is more cerebral and emotional in nature.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve thought about this, too. Before I came to Fluther, I didn’t even really believe it was possible to make ‘real’ friends online. Boy was I wrong!

There’s the whole “all we do is talk and get to know one another” part, as has already been mentioned. And part of it might just be a numbers game. We get to talk to so many people online, there are bound to be at least a few we really connect with, you know? I mean, how often, in ‘real life’, do we have the opportunity to talk to so many people in a day? And I mean really talk. I don’t know about you guys, but most of my day-to-day conversations are just functional… like “Thanks.” to the cashier, “Do you have any homework?” to the kids, and “I’m going to the bank.” to my husband. We get so much deeper here, and on a more regular basis, than we do in ‘real life’.

Whatever it is, I’m grateful to have been wrong. <3

JilltheTooth's avatar

Pretty much all of the above, and another factor that I’ve noticed…when I’m posting, no one’s interrupting so my thoughts (all of our thoughts) get to come out as complete. Even when conversations are positive IRL we rarely get a chance state our views start to finish without interruption, which can give us a more complete view of each other. A lot of my peers I’m 57, for the 3 of you on the internet that don’t know don’t have much to do with the Internet, and really don’t understand that my online friendships are important to me. I think they feel like I’m acting like a silly teenager by caring so much.

Ayesha's avatar

I strongly agree with @ANef_is_Enuf.

smilingheart1's avatar

The movie 84 Charing Cross shows a version of this concept with the budding friendship between a British bookseller and an American writer. Also penpals have been another way of truly learning to develop social and friendship communication among former strangers. We all want and need kindred spirits in our lives and the mechanics of it are so much easier electronically than handwriting, mailings and the long wait for return mail. Here’s a toast to internet friendships in all its wonderful facets.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I just want to add in here, that there are so many of you I feel close to, and a handful that I have truly come to love, and I’m so grateful that crashed and I was led here. I may not have met y’all otherwise, and I would be missing out on a lot if I hadn’t. =0)

Plus I wouldn’t have met my favorite cougar who makes pants. For her teeth. And that would have been tragic.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m still scared of your shovel…just sayin’... ;-)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think some good points have been raised above that are really important. The internet allows us access to far more people than we might have the opportunity to interact with in person, and it gives us the option of having an idea of what their likes and dislikes are before we ever really talk to them. Unless people start walking around with the equivalent of a written profile hanging around their necks, that is always going to be a plus. The more people you have access to, the more likely you are to meet people who share common interests and aspirations.

Also, @JilltheTooth‘s point about being able to get out complete thoughts is another unique perk to friendships based strongly on written word more than spoken or face to face interactions.

All of this talk about a shovel keeps reminding me of a picture I have stored.. somewhere on this computer.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah…my husband has a difficult time understanding how I could really be friends with people online. Especially when they have names like @WillWorkForChocolate and @JilltheTooth and @RealEyesRealizeRealLies! It must sound odd when I talk about you guys using your screen names.

Bellatrix's avatar

An interesting statistic I just read. “One out of eight couples married in the US during 2006 met online” (Moran, Harris & Moran 2011).

So if these on-line things aren’t real, we had better warn all those people!

Paradox25's avatar

It doesn’t happen often but when I was on another Q&A site similar to this one there was one girl that really caught my attention. We both seemed to be interested in the same topics and both of us would give similar answers to questions, and in the same way . Also through PM’s we even found out we had the same interests (another rarity) and political views. Too bad she lived so far from me.
Yes, I’ve interacted with much more interesting people online (respective to me) than I ever did in person or in my daily routine.

choreplay's avatar

I love all the answers above, they all get it. But I would like to boil it down to something a little simpler.

Dear WillworkforMFChocolate (made you laugh), it’s relationship on the level of the heart.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@choreplay Dear ChoreMFplay, I think you’re right. =0)

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I know…I can’t believe how much I still miss it. I use a form of “I Miss Wisdm” on some of my online passwords. : (

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well @Dutchess_III, if you’re ever feeling nostalgic, consider visiting the blog. All of 2008 is still being posted, along with Dec 2007. Plus, did you ever download your comments history while they offered it? I got all of mine, including some fervent battles between ShellAnswerMan and SteveBo.

Blueroses's avatar

All of my points were already made, so I’m only here to give lurve to my friends.

And to say @smilingheart1 I love that you mentioned Charing Cross Road. I often think of that movie when I think about my internet relationships.

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