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Friday, January 29, 2010

Virtual Reality Relationships

How has the internet affected relationships?
In today's society, surfing the internet is almost inevitable. With the help of social networks such as MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, and BlackPlanet, people find it easier to communicate with friends, meet new ones, or even meet a potential beau. Also, with this new technology, people are able to communicate with their loved ones from across the globe. For example, when I went to Europe for 4 months, I did all I could to prevent high cell phone costs for me and my boyfriend. This included using Skype, AIM, and the typical email accounts. This helped us to keep in touch at all hours and places.

In addition to preserving relationships, the internet can also be used as a tool to demolish them. With these social networks, people find it easier to cheat on their significant others, and keep secrets from them. While this can all be done without the internet as well, the internet makes it more accessible. As a result of this, the internet contributes to the growing number of disloyalty in relationships, break-ups, and other issues that arise. Another factor in the dismembering of relationships is the fact that it is easier to find out information of almost anyone in the world with the internet. Therefore, secrets can turn public at the simplest press of a button on the keyboard. While doing research on Yahoo! Answers, I found someone who had found out that their wife was cheating on him and they are getting a divorce. He found this out by discovering her secret MySpace page with her “boyfriend” all over it.
Even with break-ups, social networks can make moving on a more difficult task that it truly is. "Facebook prolongs the period it takes to get over someone, because you have an open window into their life, whether you want to or not," says Yianni Garcia of New York, a consultant who helps companies use social media. "You see their updates, their pictures and their relationship status." However, with all social sites, a person can always “unfriend,” “unfollow,” or block people to save themselves the heartbreak.

Currently, I am back in the U.S. I have a Twitter and a FaceBook and my boyfriend has a Twitter, MySpace, and a Facebook. I have a Twitter and FaceBook for the purpose of communicating with friends, and my boyfriend needs his social networks for promotion purposes. Given that we see each other a lot and he does not really use his sites that much for personal usage, both of us like to keep our relationship matters private. While I enjoy knowing what my boyfriend is doing away from me, having happily been in a relationship for the past four years, I don’t mind him and me not communicating via the internet. There is no purpose. Many people, by looking at our individual web pages, would not know that we were in a relationship unless they actually delve into our photo albums and connect the pictures to the guy in my friend’s list. On Twitter, we follow each other, but do not recognize each other as our spouses. However, we do reference each other and talk about some of the same events we have attended. Therefore, if someone were to follow both of us, they would know that we were talking about each other.
By keeping our relationship less virtual and public, I believe that my relationship with my boyfriend has avoided some of the arguments that many couples have had about having a public presence on the internet. While some couples are content with having their relationship plastered across their social networks, marked with “♥s” and what not, my relationship has survived this long without the unnecessary virtual communication on a social network.

What is your take on the role of internet involvement in relationships?



Blogger Yianni Garcia said...

Hi Britt,

Great post - thanks for using my quote from the WSJ article, "How Facebook Ruins Relationships". The article didn't reflect my views entirely, however. I think social media allows us to strengthen relationships more than weaken them.

I actually wrote as response to that article that I thought you might find interesting. Check it out:

February 23, 2010 at 4:49 PM  

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