Lately, most of what I’ve read here has to do with the depth, or lack thereof, of relationships formed online. Notice I don’t call them friendships. They seem to be undermined (intentionally?) by the actors. I had a profile on JDate.com for about 7 years. Of the hundreds of men I met online, I went out in person with about 60 of them. I can remember about 3 who represented themselves accurately in word and photo. One of those 60 is now my husband of two years. I wonder about the rationale of lying about oneself while simultaneously pursuing an honest, trusting, permanent, loving relationship with someone of the opposite gender. Why would 98% of these people present themselves erroneously? What could possibly be a good and satisfying consequence of such behavior?
In one case, I carried on a pleasant online discussion with a man in Tampa, Florida for a couple of months, and then we decided to meet. I was living in Alabama at the time, and had a close friend in Tampa who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I decided to make the drive there. Upon seeing him in the flesh for the first time, I immediately noticed that he looked about 20 years older than in his posted photo, shorter than what he said he was, but most important to me (don’t think me superficial, please), half of his teeth were missing and the remaining half were gnarly and greenish-black. Believe it or not, it went downhill from there, and I ended up at the business end of a large kitchen knife…albeit about 12 feet away…grabbing for the door as he screamed at me, “You’re 47 g-d years old. What makes you think anyone would want you???!!” What preceded that? He had asked me, innocently enough, “How do you think we’re doing?” to which I replied in my gee-whiz Midwestern way, “I don’t find you very attractive.”
Okay, I know. I was stupid, too trusting, too afraid to hurt someone’s feelings…that’s why I was in his kitchen. I had made a date, and I thought I owed it to him to spend time with him. But, I had my car, and made a quick escape. Well, that was almost the worst situation I got myself into. I’ll save my other experience(s) for some other post. I’m just venting here because I fear for a lot of the younger people who post “identities” on Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, and the like. Why are they there? What do they hope to achieve? Real friendship? I mean…really!! Kudos to the fella who took his profile down from MySpace.
Preece speaks a lot (articulately so) about social presence and the absence of heuristic or non-verbal cues that people use constantly in face-to-face interactions. Therefore, in a contextual environment, all we have pretty much are our words. If the words are misleading or downright false (with a lot of pie-in-the-sky fabrication added to the mix), then what do we have? Certainly not the basis for friendship.
Thank you for allowing me to rant. After readiing the recent posts, I just had to say something about this. I’ve been talking about the futility of false persona for years!