Relationships in the new world

I thought I had written everything I could think of, about women and men. Well, perhaps not. I don’t write all that much about relationships. And that’s the whole goddamn can of worms, isn’t it? Well..a new direction for this blog perhaps.

I was in conversation with a blogger…those delightful email conversations where you can say just what you want, whenever you want to and in any order since you don’t really know the person at the other end. Ah, what joy the blogsphere has brought to idle intellectuals too lazy to practice their words!

I was talking about online relationships and realised I should just put it up as a post. Here’s what I think about them: SO?

What is the big deal with people anyway? Who is anyone to dictate what defines a relationship? I have felt a connection to some people. Coldly analysing it, it could be a combination of loneliness, hormones, stress and a whole load of other such seemingly shameful things. But after all no man (or woman) is an island and we are all social animals. I’d say we are all needy animals. We crave attention, validation, security, entertainment, sex, gratification, TLC…oh, so very many things.

Now, does it matter through what medium it reaches us? Isn’t it sufficient that we are having our needs met in a way that we like? Now whoever said that you can’t be in love with a person you’ve never seen..is a jackass. Do the blind never fall in love then? Similarly so about having to hear the person and such-and-such. Okay, physical promixity…and what about sex? Well…I know that’s the reason a lot of people get into relationships, but almost everyone who does, eventually realises that it can’t sustain a relationship on its own steam. Personally I think its nobody’s business where someone else is getting sex, from whom, how often and when and where. Isn’t there a theory about voyeurism having its roots in sexual deprivation? I believe it.

Coming back, I’d say the online world is as alive a medium as any other. We conduct our professional lives, do our shopping, manage our finances even our health online. So why not emotions and relationships? I don’t mean this as a substitute to the so-called real world. On retrospect, what is the real world after all? Most of us in the cities swim through masses of people everyday….how many of them do we talk to, or even make eye contact with? How many of us know our neighbors well? And how much do we know about the people we work everyday with, aside from what they do for a living? I don’t know that we’ve necessarily forgotten how to build relationships. I think we just do it differently from the way it has been done across centuries.

Literature holds numerous instances of grand love stories being conducted on long letters. I really don’t believe the email is impersonal. Maybe I just never was a very good letter-writer and perhaps because I was born to the internet generation….I think the content of writing makes it personal. The same is true of blogs, website, chats, text messages. Some of the really wonderful people I know today, I met them online. These were connections buildt on shared ideas, on wonderful conversations, on common ideals. There are some people I’ve met just a couple of times, some never at all. That doesn’t make them any less ‘real’ to me. They are well and alive and a part of my world and I, a part of theirs. What they think and feel matters to me and I would want to share my emotions with them. Isn’t that what relationships are about?

Who we are is so much more than what we look and sound and feel like. We are more than our bodies, aren’t we? So why restrict our relationships to bodily associations only?

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About IdeaSmith

IdeaSmith is the digital doppelganger of Ramya Pandyan (intrepid train-traveller and frequent spouter of post-midnight rhymes and rants). As IdeaSmith she battles obscurity and slays boredom with her stories about men, books, digitalia and Mumbai. She performs live and also blogs, tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, +G’s, Youtubes and Goodreads all as IdeaSmith. Ramya is a blogger, digital storyteller and spoken word performer. She also runs a forum for aspiring writers called Alphabet Sambar. Tweet-bomb her at @ideasmithy.

Posted on April 20, 2006, in Times, they are a-changing. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. nice post, but for the fact that sometimes personalities online are made up or lets say fake… most of the times, in real life, these people are not what they seem…

    physical proximity clears that aspect out… you know that you are dealing with a psycho if you actually are… but, online, you can say that with surety can you?

    e-relationships may be a good thing, may be a fad or whatever we would like to call it but it cannot and should not go beyond the levels of acquaintances or friendship at most… thats about it

  2. Iyer: I don’t agree. How much do we know of the other person if we were to have him/her near us? Yes to an extend its true. But I have had friends dating online and finally ending up getting married. I guess its all about trust. But if the person was to be a psycho…he would be in real life too…so the whole point of that uncertainty dies.

    Idea: It’s foolish to think that the body makes the relationship work. Yes to an extent…but it finally ends in our minds and hearts…I would say if u find a person compatible enough…go for it…

  3. Iyer: I echo demi here. Haven’t we all been fooled at some time or the other by someone in our ‘real’ lives? Physical proximity doesn’t have any more guarantees than the online world. Caution is always good, whichever way you meet people. Beyond that, the internet, the telephone…they’re all just extensions of us…in the sense they are media that carry some aspect of us into the other person’s lives. How long can one fake that?

    Demi: Thanks for the vote of confidence! 🙂 I was also thinking about all those wonderous associations that come under the broad description of ‘friendship’. I don’t see why these can’t be formed online just as well as offline.

  4. Amen Smithy. I like the direction xxfactor is taking ;).
    The cloak of the internet shielding two individuals is not all negative. It often is what makes some lay out opinions, feelings, thoughts and emotions far more sincerely than the same person would in ‘real life’.
    And I for one have met more psychos offline than online!

  5. Nothing in this world should be defined and no parameters as a judgemental tool…if anything thats the bane of our society.Do as u please, feel as u please , fall if need be , rise from ashes and into ashes…thats my take

  6. I feel the net is just a medium… just like any other medium, like the newspaper or the fone, though a very powerful one, plus here you have the advantage of seeking out more like-minded people, the ones who share common interests.. but then, some of the worst disasters have been on the net. The point is, it should just be treated as a medium to meet people, and for the rest, use your brains and judgement…

    Plus, have you considered a point here? The person you have written about in this post might just be in love with the image of him she has created around herself? What happens when reality strikes and they meet is something yet to be seen….

    Sometimes, we just create images of people we have never met… while in real life, they might completely be different people. Good food for introspection…

  7. Personal experience.. that confirms “sunshine’s” suspicion..

    We met.. in real life.. there was a one-sided attraction in the beginning..and that’s what started the whole e-mail-affair.. if I can call it that..
    And it was intense.. Hours and hours and hours of emailing.. of refreshing the inbox .. WAITING for a reply…

    Then I left the country..
    Naturally.. feelings intensified coz of the separation… the emails got more verbose.. and we weren’t trying to put up any charade… we were more frank than we even really NEEDED to be.. we literally bared our souls to each other..

    And everything was FINE.. we were “officially” a couple.. till one fine day..after about a year.. we met again.. and for whatever reason.. there was no chemistry.. no timing.. it was just so WEIRD..
    We had gotten so much ahead as far as our email-relationship was concerned.. but our physical relationship.. and I’m not really talking about “physical intimacy or contact..” just a relationship without the Internet as a medium.. lagged far far behind..
    As soon as we got back to our terminals.. we were completely and hopelessly in love.. but whenever we met.. it was just ordinary…

    Naturally we broke up.. and people who knew both of us.. were SHOCKED..coz they felt we were perfect for each other.. and there was NO way to explain what happenened..
    I STILL don’t know what happened.. but the learning frm this experience.. was that.. you DO need the WHOLE deal…

    You need to associate and be able to “connect” using all mediums.. and even in the absence of all mediums..
    I know I’m talking about more “permanent” relationships here.. which might not have been the premise of this post !!

    long post this !

    -anon1

  8. i don’t know. it seems like people should be able to have normal relationships on the net, but you need to meet in person to be sure. chemistry has a lot of physicality attached to it.

  9. Its a strange thing this concept of pen-pals, email friends etc.. Of course it is a great connection thing. But one needs both, some real interaction face to face, possible because we read of other peoples actions too. And that is not visible via internet. We really don’t know how they react to what we say, we know how they will eventually think, but there is this extra thought htat goes into typing up stuff which is nt there when you interact face to face.

    ok thats more than you want to read..but you got to respond to comments…:)t

  10. Ah…I didn’t realise that anyone would want to read my replies. I mean..I write the post, other people comment..that’s that. But maybe not. So here goes…an attempt to reply…

    Sunshine: I agree. But don’t people build images in the real world too? Aren’t there some people who live in fantasy and those who believe their own lies? All I am saying is that the real world is no more ‘safer’ than the virtual world.

    Anonymous: I didn’t take that into account at all. Of course, chemistry is something you can judge only when you are physically next to the person. I stand corrected.

    Vishupriya: Right again. See my earlier reply!

    Ligne: Some people are more comfortable expressing themselves in the written word than by speaking…their deepest feelings especially. I’m one of them and I think people who read me probably know the real me much more than people who only hear me in the real world. With that, don’t you think the meeting of minds happens better online than offline? I’m not discounting the chemistry bit of course…guess there should be a balance of both. But I don’t think one should write off online encounters as meaningless.

  11. ah… its nice to be in the “right” every once in a while .. 😉

    -anon1

  12. Although the net can be good for finding partners and friends I don’t believe you really know someone until you have actually spent time with them. I have many online friends but even those I have know for a long time I don’t feel as close to as some of my ‘real-world’ friends that I haven’t know so long.
    Love your blog 🙂

    • @John: I am a firm believer in the value of time spent on a relationship. So older associations definitely feel closer and more intimate than newer ones. I’m not so sure though about the offline versus online thing. Yes, it does feel like you know a person better in in-face interaction than with a medium but I’m guessing people said that about letter-writing and telephone calls too, once. But long-distance relationships have been sustained through these very media. Why will the internet be any different?

      And….thanks. 🙂 I hope you’ll drop by again!

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