I’m a geek. A bonafide, bespectacled, suspender-loving, internet-dwelling geek. No one seems to have a problem with the amount of social networking, instant messaging, online gaming and emailing that I seem to do, but when it comes to real-life love in a virtual world, people turn up their noses. They say you can’t find love on the internet because of how easy it is to misread emphasis and intention, do you agree? How do you safeguard yourself from a CIA (Covert Internet Asshole)? And how do you tell “making nice” and “making a move” apart?
c0nfuz0rd 1337 h4x0r
c0nfuz0rd 1337 h4x0r,
They say that, do they? They say a lot of things, they do.
I believe what They mean to say is that They find it too easy to misread emphasis and intention—it’s more of a reflexive problem and not necessarily universal. That’s not to say that there aren’t inherent issues with text-based communication. Still, problems with communication exist regardless of the medium whether it be spoken word or written text. I’m quite certain we’ve all misunderstood someone in a telephone or face-to-face conversation. These things just happen.
There are plenty of ways to punctuate emphasis using the written word. Thanks largely to this whole New-Fangled Infrawebs, the last 20 years have seen an accelerated progress on this front. The use of asterisks to denote action, enclosing words between underscores to add emphasis, and even acronyms such as LOL—and even HOGMP or JEOMK—are all methods used to increase clarity.
A very delicate balance of both what one says and how one says things exists that contributes to understanding. I, for one, have been making very real attempts over the last few years at using fewer pronouns in order to be better understood. This is something that goes beyond the method of communication used and allows for much more coherent thought.
Do I believe that real-life love can exist across the Internet? Sure I do. The methods by which people maintain contact does not define their relationship. Something to keep in mind, though, is that it can possibly make for more trying circumstances. This is not a constant, per se, but the potential for difficulty may increase. As long as both parties understand the nature of their situation and take steps to offset the complication of it—regularly scheduled phone and IM conversations, carefully planned visits—the prospect of a relationship can blossom and flourish. This isn’t some sort of novel idea. It’s been done before and, really, the steps involved in maintaining this type of relationship aren’t any different than if both parties were within walking distance—it just requires an alternate avenue.
When it comes to safeguarding one’s heart and feelings online, it’s not unlike doing so “in real life”. The same goes for reading a person’s intent. A jerk will be a jerk despite any backdrop. Trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to ask questions or be blunt and you’ll be able to sniff-out the bad apples.
Just my $0.02