I was speechless when I first watched this segment on the Today Show. I recorded the last 15 minutes of the show when I heard they would be discussing online relationships, so I could watch it when I came home from work for lunch. Once I was done being speechless, I was angry.
I hate the way Fink says “unfortunately, no” in response to whether or not she was shocked that Te’o had a girlfriend he’d never met. That entire controversial topic aside, her attitude in the actual tv segment reflects this idea that developing a relationship with a person online is something terrible that should be frowned upon.
I almost laughed when Koppelman tried separating interpersonal and online relationships though, because it’s just such a ridiculous statement. Interpersonal simply means between two people. My online friendships as well as my relationship are very much interpersonal – I’d be a little worried if they weren’t. And if that isn’t a solid enough argument, I researched interpersonal relationships last semester, and many of the more recent books I read dedicated full chapters to online relationships.
Honestly, this close-minded attitude is one of the hardest parts of having an Internet based relationship (as well as many internet based friendships). People judge, like meeting my best friend through the Internet was dumb, like falling in love with Sean before meeting him in real life was somehow wrong, like we can’t maintain a solid, healthy relationship because, well, it’s only online.
This leaves me disappointed in my generation. With how prominent the internet and other technology is in today’s world, you’d think at least my generation would be able to accept and understand that what happens online is on some level real. If you can be bullied and harassed through the internet, why can’t you make friends and fall in love?
On another, but very much related, note, I feel like these teens (as well as the psychologist) didn’t take Skype into consideration at all. She talks about the phone and face-to-face interactions. What does she think Skype is? For me, Skype is a face-to-face interaction. It allows me to know how my boyfriend moves, what his face looks like. Honestly, thanks to things like Skype, the only thing my relationship is missing (outside of our visits) is physical interaction. And, as important as physical interaction is (important enough that Sean and I fill that void by talking about things we wish we could do – hold hands, cuddle, fall asleep together), it is not a completely necessary part of falling in love with someone.