Monday, January 12, 2009

What is real?

I recently had a discussion with an acquaintance about his/her computer habits and it occurred to me that there may be times when we mistakenly "believe" there is an actual rather than virtual relationship with our on-line contacts. Being part of the blog network is enjoyable, sharing ideas with other bloggers and at times feeling a sense of kinship. Many of us have original thoughts and an interesting outlook regarding our world. Sometimes we need to share or process some of our experiences and perceptions. There is often inspiration from reading other blogger's posts. I have observed many creative pieces of "literature" which could someday lead to a book or something for some of us frustrated writers who want to be the next Kurt Vonnegut or John Updike. It tends to be a harmless pursuit of expressing our thoughts and attempting to express and explore our feelings. That all being said, I want you all to ask yourself a few important questions......

1. Are there ever missed opportunities to interact with other human beings, having a conversation, going out and participating in some type of activity because you choose to sit at the keyboard?
2. Do any family members make comments about how long you are on the computer and you ignore their comment ? They may be trying to ask you to spend some time with them and instead you stay at your keyboard, maybe making excuses or rationalizing.
3. When was the last time you read a book? Has the amount of time on the computer effected the previous amount of time spent maybe reading or some other type of intellectual pursuit?
4. Do you consider the people whom you trade comments with on your blog(s) as sharing some type of familiarity? Are they your actual friends or virtual?
5. Have you ever considered asking or suggesting a face to face meeting despite knowing anything real about the person other than on-line " chatting"?
6. Have you ever stayed up late to peck away at your keyboard instead of going to bed and cuddling with your significant other?
7.Have you ever referred to an on-line contact as a quote "friend" in a conversation with a real person and maybe failed to mention or make the distinction it is a computer buddy?
8.Do you spend an inordinate amount of time scanning your comment section waiting and hoping for feedback?
9.Have you ever allowed another bloggers comments to dictate your thoughts as a source of self esteem or posted seeking needful validation?
10.Have you ever taken a sick day from work or school so you could spend all day at the computer and no one else would ever know about it?

I have posed some of this inquiries as perhaps a wake up call to some of us who may have forgotten there is a real world out there and we should be participating in it.

A few days ago someone told me an actual true story about their marriage falling apart after meeting someone on-line while gaming. They became "close" friends spending many hours at one of those team member war games. It grew to the point they would actually get up early and have their morning coffee before going to work and chat on-line and exchange numerous e-mails throughout the day until they met up again on the computer to play games in the evening. They were each married to their respective spouses who had become somewhat questioning of their activity which they then would reassure nothing was going on. For various reasons they were not getting their emotional needs met by their partners and instead subjugated their feelings by developing this virtual relationship. It reached the point that one of them left their partner and traveled a great distance to meet up in person. After showing up on the other person's doorstep the other party's spouse was somewhat taken aback but invited the person in. The two computer people steadfastly denied there was anything going on. Basically it tore apart two marriages. One of the people was forgiven by their spouse and eventually returned home after about a week. The person who traveled to the other's home did not think that they had done anything wrong . Regardless of whether they participated in intimacy they had cheated in their hearts,all over the computer. As unbelievable as this story may seem it is actually true.

We need to be aware and careful about those we communicate with over the computer. What do we really know about others and what they choose to tell us? For all you know the on-line person whom you think is witty and interesting may have bodies buried in their basement. I'm obviously exaggerating here to make a point. There is a difference between actual and virtual so try to remember that when you are interacting with other people on-line.


underOvr (aka The U) said...

A very sobering post gaf85,

As someone who spends a better part of his day in front of a monitor/keyboard, the folks I interact with are geographically spread out across the US and other countries. Many of these people I have not or never will meet. I consider some of them co-worker/friends; others are people who contact me for technical support issues.

I get what you're saying about the perils of fostering online relationships, but that's true of all areas of a married person's life where they spend an inordinate amount of time just to communicate with someone (other than their spouse).

The person you wrote about could have easily engaged in the same behavior if they met someone in a bible study group, at work, a literary group, or at the market. Infidelity happens on a much broader scale than the Internet; that's the reality. When something is missing, people begin a quest to find it; that quest may take them away from a spouse. I'm not justifying it, just saying that you and I both know it happens. It's the responsibility of couples to "work" their marriage; that takes commitment, everyday.

I didn't realize I had so much to say on this until I found myself here.


Madame DeFarge said...

An interesting post. I live on my own during the bulk of the week, because of work circumstances and only go back to my husband on Fridays for the weekend. I could easily regard my online activities as a distraction from him, but we work hard to mae sure it isn't. So for me, blogging is a useful way of passing the time in a constructive and enjoyable way. I use my blog as a way of writing what I enjoy.

I enjoy the contact and feedback on line, but it doesn't rule my life. Work seems to do that rather too well.

Bella@That damn expat said...

Interesting questions you pose here.
I guess I see internet as just another place to meet people. What I mean is, we live in a world where meeting new friends in chat rooms has replaced meeting new friends in bars or clubs.

I have never met any online people in the real world, but I do enjoy my bloggy contacts. Why? Because where else would I have meaningful conversations with a teenager and a grandma at the same time?
Real life friends we have usually come from our own social circles. Most of my friends are my age and college educated. Because I met them at school/work/through friends from school or work.

I love writing a post and then seeing such different personalities from completely different backgrounds interact, brought together by my post.

As for marriages fall apart - hey, it happens. You can connect with another soul in a supermarket or PTA.