Emotion is present in the internet. People meet via the internet everyday. Exhange pleasantries. Share knowledge. Find friends. Gossip. Play games. Flirt. Fall in love. Give emotional support. Engage in idle or small talk. Because people can bring their real life problems and personalities to their “virtual world,” it’s therefore possible for people to develop emotional relationships with their “invisible, electronic” friends or lovers.
The internet is indeed today’s social phenomenon. It offers a way for people to “find each other.” Can one fall in love or make friends over the internet? Sure. Statistics or evidence strongly reveal the reality that countless online relationships are now developed through emails or in the chat rooms. In a way, the internet may provide a positive alternative for people to ease loneliness or isolation and discover connectedness with others.
Inspite of its positive uses or potential, there can be an ugly side or limitations to “electronic relationship.” One can get in contact with fake, bitter, even dangerous people on the web. Online communication is not the same as real life, face-to-face communication. It often leaves out the “most important things about you” — things like attitude, character or personality, nonverbal behavior, true family background, etc. After all, isn’t it the nature of the internet that you can limit to or act out only that which you wish to show to the other person online?
Indeed, the Internet is not simply about technology. It is not just about information. It is about human communication. It’s about people talking with each other, people exchanging e-mail, people doing a web dance who can be emotional with each other. The challenge I see is for us to be able to discern the many sides of electronic relationship, and hopefully go beyond what is typical.