Is it possible to ”fall in love” online?

It’s certainly possible to fall into a hole or two.

This may be my weaknesses more than anything else, but in a specific way, the internet is the ideal place to ‘fall in love’.

But I don’t know if it teaches you much about love. And I doubt you fall in the kind of thing you can rely on in the long term.

You may do. But there’s no way of knowing until reality starts to get in the way.

The internet is a strange tool. The wave of self expression is huge. I think there’s a healthiness in being given a venue to really let oneself out. But then, I would. I’ve been doing it online for years.

From my perspective, ranting about feminism, gender and sexuality has literally changed my life. I’ve expressed things in a way that has helped me realise them. I’ve fueled my confidence in real life to make meaningful change.

I’ve even started to take responsibility for my actions and work out who I am.

Slowly.

That self expression is equal parts heart-warming and over the top.  My soul is bared on the internet, for anyone to stumble upon. And I’m not the only one.

That exposure leads to trust and empathy. People never leave themselves this exposed in real life. (Well, I often do, but that’s a political matter, I’m trying to change the world, you know). It breaks down a few barriers instantly. Despite the self centred nature of the whole exchange.

It’s no wonder people fall in love in a place people can stay anonymous enough to show their innards like that.

But that anonymity also means you can skirt over the gaps. Miss out the weaknesses. Cover up some of the obvious truths. People on the internet, for all the honesty it affords, are not people but avatars.

Everything in real life is mediated, yes, but there’s no doubt it’s worse once you enter the world of text, image, audio and film. The internet has NO unmediated information. Everything is a representation.

Depth is not afforded. Or at least it is controlled where it is allowed.

It’s easy to fill the gaps with imagination. It’s a problem offline and on. I have it hard. When I barely know someone, I see one thing I like, a certain attitude, a certain look, a fondness for a certain band, a certain political attitude, a certain smile, and I ‘fall in love’.

It doesn’t take much to spark the imagination. To start building a fantastical and perfect future with a virtual stranger (virtual or not).

From when I started getting sensible in that previous article:

Real love … comes down to taking time to get to know and appreciate and cope with someone.

Cope with all of them. Faults and warts and farts and quirks and all.

You don’t get that level of reality on the internet.

So you can fall, but not love.

Not properly.

You need meatspace for that.

Not the interstice.

—-

Illustration by Adam.

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About Alabaster Crippens

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
This entry was posted in Illustrations by Adam, Questions by Winnie. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Is it possible to ”fall in love” online?

  1. Cat says:

    I disagree.

    People on the internet, for all the honesty it affords, are not people but avatars.

    Sure, some or maybe many people are like that, but not everyone is. I am no way different online than I am in real life which you can take however you want!

    Sure, I may not broadcast my innermost feelings on Twitter, but then I wouldn’t do that if I was surrounded by 600 people in real life either and there are other ways to talk to people online.

    I very much agree with this and if it’s possible to have real friends online [which I believe I have] then why isn’t it possible to fall in love?

    • Cool.
      Thanks for disagreeing.
      Though I’m not sure we’re totally opposed in viewpoints (though we are somewhat). I’m saying it is possible to fall in love, but it’s not possible to know how that’s going to work in the real world, and for me, definitely, the real world is definitely a requisite of a love relationship.

      I’ve not read pewari’s bit yet, but will have a look, but I TOTALLY agree that it’s possible to have real friends online. And I think it’s totally possible to fall in love, but I still think you’re falling in love with someone’s presentation of themselves. You’re missing out on a whole load of vital things that may get in the way in a less mediated conversation.

      When I say that people are avatars, I mean that they are presented through filters. In controlled circumstances. I’m not saying that people are necessarily being dishonest (though that’s obviously the point Adam is making with his illustration) just that you only get one point of view. Not the whole of a being.

      With plenty of time, lots of communication, sure you’re going to learn a hell of a lot of stuff about someone, and possibly even enough to know you want to be with someone forever. That’s got to happen for some people.
      I just don’t think it’ll happen for me.
      I do it too much in real life. Cling onto a fantasy image. Letting the gaps in what you know become filled with magical things that aren’t necessarily there.
      I fall in love too easily. So I’m too scared to do it on the internet?
      It’s definitely possible the problem here is with me. Not the internet.

      Back to the avatar thing. It’s really important to note, as I look back, (and in light of what I’ve just added) a lot of my criticisms of the internet are equally possible/valid in real life, so the thing is something of a farce.
      When you meet people, you’re often meeting their social persona (‘prepare a face to greet the faces that we meet’).
      It’s still part of them. But it’s only a part. It takes months and years and decades to get to know someone fully. Every bit of someone. I just imagine that that’s almost always going to take longer on the internet, and be more prone to mistakes and/or dishonesty (unintentional or not).

      As for behaving the same way in both worlds. I think I do that too. Possibly I’m MORE brash in the twitterverse, but I rarely say or confess something I wouldn’t in real life.

      But I don’t think that means someone reading twitter (or even my blogs, where I spill my heart and guts perpetually) gets to know me. They see my mood swings, but normally just my process of getting over my issues. They see me upset or proud of my smell, but they don’t know what I smell like. They can see pictures of me. But they can’t see who I am.

      Sometimes they get more. But it’s always what I’ve allowed to be written. I try actively to avoid self censoring. But I don’t think I do.
      I present myself with a weird rosy tint. Even as I try and expose my bad side ( to explore and exorcise).

      Again. This is all me.

      And yeah. I have a few real and wonderful friends online. People I care about. People I could possibly fall in love with.

      But I want to meet them before I commit.

      (Shit, is this response longer than the original answer? Sorry. This is exactly what I was trying to avoid on this blog. Ah well).

      Thanks for your thoughts.
      And at least I didn’t start ranting on about post-modern simulacra, which was going to be my initial response.

      • Cat says:

        I like how you developed your POV throughout your comment, that’s something I do, too!

        I still agree about your definition of people on the internet, even though I get what you’re trying to say. I do think that it’s definitely possible to show everything there is, maybe even more so than in real life.

        Censorship and rose tinted views is something different. There are things I would never say publically online, but I wouldn’t invent something either.

        Saying that I have no interest in falling in love with someone online, but that’s because I generally don’t trust people and also don’t seek out meeting any new people online and have cut down on my internet activities.

      • By rose tinted, I mean like a filter. Not a lie. But a perspective. If that makes sense. I don’t think that’s censorship or invention. Though it’s definitely somewhere in between.

        I think it’s possible to show more than in real life, but I also think it’s still always going to be an angle.
        Not an unadulterated stream.

        But then, I’m not sure that’s so different to real life.

        Either way it’s definitely interesting.

        And yeah. I tend to think slightly slower than I type. So I’m my view shifts lots when I’m writing.

  2. fbstj says:

    I agree with carocat, but in a different way, I output most of my feelings online since I have no way of doing it irl, and also I’ve fallen in love and have friends that have done similar all over the internet.

    • I’d also really quickly like to note that I think I’m a victim of the strict wordcount. The last few lines should include
      ‘possible to fall in love.
      But not to love.’

      And really, I should’ve unpacked the second love more. But this project is all about quick responses and strict rules. Not complete expression.

    • Cat says:

      Yeah, that is another thing, I’m very close to some people online and sometimes it’s easier than in real life.

  3. (My last response now sounds like I’m being even nastier? Perhaps I just need to pull back and note that I think I’m just talking about myself here? Being typically selfcentred. Sorry)

  4. purplesapho says:

    I think people in real life are avatars too. And it’s as easy to conceal things about yourself offline than it is online. And generally it is easier to keep rather superficial exchanges with people offline, never knowing what is going through their minds.

    I think it also depends on your personality. I think the internet is one of the most ideal spaces for intuitive introverts like myself, but perhaps not as much for sensing extroverts that need more of a visual/tactile imput.

    I know nearly nothing about people who I spent time with for years in university. But I know so much about online people that I have never met face to face. There’s lots of insubstantial small talk involved in a normal “real life” interchange. Sometimes it’s all there is.

    Another point is that, it’s much more likely to find like-minded individuals to interact with to a deeper level online than in the small circle of your town/city. Much more if you are like me, who rarely goes out and dreads socialization.

    I’ve never had better friends as the ones I’ve met online. And more than that,

    I did fall in love online and I’m truly confident that I couldn’t have found anyone better.

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