Since the advent of technology, many people around the world are spending a considerable time online chatting with fiends. Through the development of online relationships, people reveal their deepest secrets to complete strangers. Since online relationships are emotionally unseductive and easily accessible, people find it relatively easy to reveal so much about themselves to their online friends. Though most of the online relationships have greater opportunities for disappointment, such affairs are genuinely flourishing.
As a result of their own unique characteristics, online relationships have been described as the first real substitute to face-to-face relationships. In fact, research has shown that online relationships tend to be emotionally true and more vigorous that real marriages. As a result of information technology, online relationships have had an array of mixed reputation. For instance, while some online relationships have been total disasters, others have blossomed and ended up into successful marriages. However, it is necessary to have a critical evaluation of online relationships before engaging yourself with an online partner.
Online pleasure (upsides)
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The advent of Information Technology (I.T) has made it possible for people to communicate easily throughout the world. Globalization has led to the development of social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, MySpace and Tagged, among others that allow people all over to the world to meet and make friends. Furthermore, there are several websites that have been “customized” specifically for dating to enhance online relationships. Some of the websites include; notforplayers.com, adultfriendfinder.com, perfectmatch.com, eharmony.com, passion.com, matchmaker.com, easyflirt.com, chemistry.com among others.
One of the most significant upside of online relationships is the ability to connect with people all over the world in various chat forums. According to Macleod & Moore (n.d.) there are plenty of good, quality and successful online relationships which have existed on the perils of online romance. Though online relationships can be tricky and slippery, there are those that produce true elements of communication and intimacy.
The most significant argument about on-line relationships is that they are authentic. Unlike face-to-face or formal relationships, there are no strings attached when people decide to engage into online relationships. As a result of this, no one is obligated or forced to get in to an online relationship. Since such relationships are formed out of choice, they can also be terminated at any time. On a documentary broadcast, Mellor (2008) noted that, online relationships tend to be more honest and truthful than the “normal” social relationships that people engage in on daily life. She attributed this to the fact that, when one engages in an online relationship, the relationship tends to be less stressful since there are no peer group issues involved. The mere fact that there is a lack of face to face interaction when people communicate through social media, they develop the confidence to express their feelings and emotions. This is because they do not have anything to lose and are genuinely seeking another person’s opinion.
On more rational dimension, online relationships are relatively safe as opposed to offline relationships. When one is involved in online relationships, they do not have to worry about getting pregnant or acquiring sexually transmitted diseases. As noted by Lockergnome (n.d), engaging in online relationships, is more like “partying”. All you need is a computer and an internet connection, and by the click of a mouse, you make friends all over the world.
On-line relationships (down sides)
Online relationships can become extremely addictive and negatively affect one’s active social life. In a documentary series aired on BBC radio, the head of guidance and counseling department at California University, Professor Milberg noted that, students who embed themselves so much into online relationships have affected their studies. He noted that most online relationships have regenerated into cases of online bullying, where people have resorted into using abusive language on others. Commenting on the potential that Facebook has in producing successful online relationships, Professor Milberg observed that the site is too public and too social for any constructive and meaningful relationship to flourish. Most of the online relationships are like mirages, others equated to “nightclubs” where you cannot hear the voice of other people (Gregory, 2010).
There mere fact that online relationships begin with a meeting of total strangers, they can be manipulative or overly enthusiastic. Although today people are more cautions when meeting strangers online, there are many who still become prey to unsuspecting bullies. This is because there are people who are deliberately looking for partners online, thereby increasing their chances of being preyed upon. Lockergnome (n.d) points out that online relationships are not genuine since most of them are intentional set ups or entirely created by unscrupulous people. In fact, people who get into online relationships are always setting themselves up for disappointment, and are more likely to encounter the negative side of social media.
Although online relationships tend to be more open and sincere than offline relationships, they may become excessively addictive and leave room for deception. One risks being “captured by their own desire” while chatting away with strangers. Besides, this poses a substantial danger to the primary relationship, since it may kill intimacy and rupture the trust between partners.
The pitfalls of on-line relationships
The risks of engaging into online relationships are enormous and real. More often than not, people whose online relationships have gone sour find it extremely difficult to get out of trouble. Some of the pitfalls of online relationships include fraud, sexual assault, fake marriages, loss of money, and terrible disappointment among others. The true reality about online relationships is that most of them are illusions that end up nowhere. Instead, they pose real risks (Lockergnome n.d). Another significant hazard of online relationships is the widespread increase of pornography cases. As a result of online relationships, many people are deceptively ruled into pornographic sites by unscrupulous scavengers with the intention of engaging in prohibited activities.
In spite of the fact that disadvantages of online relationships far much outweigh the advantages, they should be credited for giving people an opportunity to know each other on a certain level. As voiced out on national broadcasting radio (BBC news) online relationships provide practical chances to make millions of friends which one might never get in “real life”. In addition, the emotional benefits derived from online chatting are truly enormous. However, psychologists argue that such platonic online relationships exist at the expense of offline relationships, thus making them risky and destructive.