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wundayatta's avatar

Are the emotions generated in internet relationships less appropriate than those generated in real life?

Asked by wundayatta (58571points) February 8th, 2010

On average, are the real emotions generated via internet communications equally as appropriate as emotions generated by face to face interactions? Or is there more noise involved in internet interactions that lead to less appropriate emotional responses than one would have had if the relationship was based on in-person interactions? Can you provide examples?

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23 Answers

ETpro's avatar

I would think that Internet relationships are generally less intense than real-life, and so less apt to give rise to inappropriate emotions.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am not much different in person than I am here or anywhere else on the internet.What you see(or read) is what you get.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think it takes more time and effort for internet friends to become close to real friends. I have a friend to whom I have been speaking for seven years online. We have never met in person but we listen to each other and have silly jokes between us and I do care a great deal about him. One time, we even “watched” a movie together on youtube. We have been slowly getting more and more in contact with each other. About a year ago, he made a facebook so we could see pictures of each other. About six months ago, we exchanged phone numbers. We’ve never spoken directly I called him once and got a voicemail. He has an interesting voice, but we have texted quite a bit. In many ways, we have the aspects of real life friendship and I believe that if we did meet, we would become better friends.

john65pennington's avatar

The only difference is my physical appearance. what you read here is what you get, the real me.

j3fr0's avatar

I met who I thought was a great gal online.. Chatted for months, she was great, we talked about this, related about that, even had some mega long phone conversations.. Anyhow later down the line we met and it was like meeting a different person, we hooked up a few times but nah, who she was online was totally different to her in real-life..
Jus to make things more complicated for ya, I’ve made some quality friends online and do go out often with them..
Basically, who can tell, everyone’s different, also in the way they show emotions…

buckyboy28's avatar

@john65pennington You mean to tell me that you aren’t a police car. Damn, I thought you were a relative of KITT.

Mozart's avatar

The internet is a strange and wonderful place. But of course, without any actual contact or anything of that nature, any sort of relationship on the internet usually wouldn’t give rise to any of the sorts of emotions that a real relationship would. Everything seems a bit more distant over the internet.

nikipedia's avatar

I am sure this is not what you intended to ask, but since your question is asking whether or not they are “appropriate” I will say this: if you are in a committed, monogamous real-life relationship, then the emotions generated by and invested in an internet relationship with another person are definitely not appropriate.

marinelife's avatar

Emotions generated in Internet relationships are less valid than those of “real world” relationships, because they are not based on real world interactions. Interactions in which you can exchange touch, looks; in which you can do things together, share experiences.

Emotions generated in Internet relationships are somewhat fantasy based.

susanc's avatar

Go talk about this with your wife, dude.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Internet relationships can be just as intense as those offline. Therefore feeling emotions can be just as inappropriate as offline.

CMaz's avatar

I think internet relationships can become more intense.

You are left to your imagination for a greater length of time, transferring that fantasy to reality.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

They might have less of a base of validity, I suppose. But that can often be said about appearances in person, too.

kevbo's avatar

We already develop relationships with television characters, so I think Internet relationships signify some progress, even though they are not ideal.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Emotions are as real as we allow them to be, whether based entirely on the Internet or anchored somehow to “real life,” whatever THAT is. An emotion generated entirely from Internet interactions is just as “real” as emotions generated in some other way. They vary in intensity just as do non-Internet emtions, depending upon the individual, the type of emotion, the complexity of the emotion, and the amount of energy the individual choses to invest in it.

I met my wife on a “Social” Website and fell in love with her there, primarily because I allowed myself to do so. There was no reason not to. However, I did not allow myself to invest totally in her until we met face-to-face. Some of the training and experience I have had has taught me how to control the intensity of my emotions, so this was a relatively easy task for me. But not everyone has been trained to do this and may allow themselves to feel the full range and intensity of their emotions via the Internet, just as though they were face-to-face.

Janka's avatar

What do you mean with “appropriate” here?

wundayatta's avatar

I meant what @marinelife said: “valid.” I struggled with finding the word (I forget what I had first—it was even worse), before I ended with appropriate. I’m afraid my ability to find words is diminishing rapidly. It is enormously frustrating.

It seems to me that there is some difference in—seriousness?—of internet emotions when compared to real world emotions. There is the element of fantasy which, while it appears in both kinds of relationships, is, of necessity, much more a part of internet relationships.

This makes internet relationships more “provisional” than real world ones. There’s always a big if. What will happen if we finally get together? Will the relationship still hold up? So I think that most people hold back somewhat because they don’t know what will happen—or if the relationship can even translate to the real world.

I know that internet relationships can feel as intense as real world ones, but I think that’s because we tend to fool ourselves into believing our fantasies have more reality than they do. I’ve gotten into trouble over internet relationships—mostly because they jerk my emotions around like crazy. I’m addicted to that, apparently. It all feels terribly serious, but, in the end, it doesn’t seem to matter much. It’s like… I was fooling myself into believing there was more there—a lot more there—than there really was. My partners seemed to have no trouble just dropping me like a worn-out toy. The impact on me lasted much longer. They would claim to care about me, but I would never hear from them again.

So I puzzled over this a lot, and finally decided that a couple of things were going on. First, I’m pretty delusional (or I have a very active fantasy life, if you want to be a little kinder), and second, internet relationships, for most people, are just a kind of diversion that doesn’t mean much. I know many people have met spouses online, but we have no idea how many “pretend” relationships there are for every significant relationship that shows up. I’m guessing that I’m emotionally immature or incompetent, because I take these things more seriously than I should. Of course, I shouldn’t even have gotten into them in the first place, but it’s the kind of thing I do when I get manic.

I don’t know if that explains what I mean by “appropriate” or “valid” or other words in that general family of meaning. Serious? Significant?

Based on the answers here, I’m inclined to say that the emotions feel as strong as real world relationships. But I still think there’s room to say that the feelings don’t quite mean the same thing, or don’t have the same punch as they would if the relationship were happening in the real world. Until that transition occurs, the internet relationship is always provisional. And if someone wants to keep it that way, they will prevent the real world transition. For that means their partner was far more serious about it than they were.

Janka's avatar

“Internet relationships, for most people, are just a kind of diversion that doesn’t mean much.” Maybe. But that has nothing much to do, in my opinion, on whether internet itself affects your emotions; it just means more people are jerks when they think they cannot get caught.

I do not think it is right to enter into a “pretend” relationship unless both parties explicitly agree it is pretense. If it is on the internet or not should not, in my opinion, matter for this. I do not think that it is right to think that because it is on the internet, it is provisional, or not “real”. The person in the other end of that relationship is a person.

Personally I wish people who think it is ok to play with other people’s feelings, insult them, or in other ways not take them seriously because it is “just the internet” would stay the hell out of the internet.

wundayatta's avatar

I do not think it is right to enter into a “pretend” relationship unless both parties explicitly agree it is pretense.

@Janka I could not agree more!

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, as long as 3-D virtual reality and wired gloves are not available.

Getting your first bear hug online would be an extremely emotional moment, far more intense than in real life. But our brains love novelties.

So, who needs a hug right now?

candide's avatar

You have not specified, “appropriate” for what?

wundayatta's avatar

Let me refer you here @candide. It is worth reading the discussion, I think, because on occasion you will find your question has already been answered. In short—do the feelings generated by an internet-only relationship mean the same thing as feelings generated in a real-life relationship? Are they as significant? Do they have the same consequences? Or are they, in some way, less. If so, how and why?

candide's avatar

I’m not worried about the discussion or the meaning of relationships, it was only the usage of the word appropriate that I found inappropriate ;)

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