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.
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.
You need meatspace for that.
Not the interstice.
Illustration by Adam.