On Aug 19, 2009, at 4:14 PM, c0nfuz0rd 1337 h4x0r wrote:

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
Julius Pleasar

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