Virtually Real

Andrew is asking questions about online relationships and their nature.

Its a question I have been pondering recently too. Are virtual relationships less real than those we have in person? We used to always answer ‘yes’ to that because it seemed odd or weird, even kinda ‘raincoat’ creepy to have a ‘relationship’ thru an lcd screen, but these days I am not so sure.

Here are some random observations:

I met Andrew last year when he and Jo were in Perth for a period of time and we got to know each other. Usually when people move away (esp to the other side of the planet) you lose all contact, but because of blogs I now have a fair idea of where Andrew’s life is at in a broad sense. We could meet up tomorrow and we would have things to speak about.

Yesterday I caught up with Alex (who comments on here) at a course on evangelicalism at the Baptist Theological College. I ‘converse’ more with Alex online than I do in person and we made that observation in front of the class. I noticed that it was met with some curiosity and maybe even a little hint of ‘how whacky’ by others. But, having connected online did make me feel something of a resonance with Alex when we were face to face.

Phil & Dan have decided to shut down Signposts. We ‘met’ 3 or 4 years ago online and these guys have become good friends. Phil is coming to Perth next week and staying at our home as he leads a Forge seminar. A relationship that began online… and now is fostered by both online and in person contact.

Grendel is my friend and lives all of 1 km from me, but we probably have more regular contact on here than in person. I noticed that when I stopped blogging for 6 months we had less regular interaction but as I have started again it feels like we are more connected. Of course we see each other in person, but it might not even be weekly just due to the busy nature of life. Is this weird?… or just life?…

I could go on with many other examples, but my point is simply that if these are relationships then they are real, whether they are from a computer or from a face to face meeting. Maybe I’m just catching up to the rest of the universe here, as I was one who despised online contact as a lesser form of interaction.

As Andrew points out in his post it is not ‘lesser’ but different and does offer some dimensions that might be missing in a non-connected world

What are you thoughts here?

Do you feel like your online relationships are real, or false?

Is the net just a way of avoiding human contact?

6 thoughts on “Virtually Real

  1. I would argue that it is neither ‘lesser’ nor ‘different’ but ‘another’.

    It is a point (often) of first contact, a place to safely discover other people and from there to forge something more.

    It is also a bloody easy way to keep track of what is going on when you don’t have time for phonecalls to all your contacts!

  2. I think it can be great for reinforcing real relationships (generally I only read blog of people i know, but their are exceptions, particularly ‘friends of friends’ – sounds like facebook!). I have this dilemma with some photo forums I’m on. Don’t know anyone face to face, spent some time there but need to cut back, feels like I’m breaking something off! But am I really? They probably wouldn’t even know I’m gone. What if I’m just dropping in but not posting, is that continuing the relationship?

    I don’t think it’s healthy if it replaces face-to-face relationships, but can be a helpful addition to.

  3. Pingback: all said and done » Starred: May-September

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