Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Online Relationships

Several people have said to me recently, "I don't do online relationships; I've tried, but they don't work."

To each of the people who said this to me (you know who you are), I immediately replied, "I don't do offline relationships; I've tried, but they don't work."

It's true.

For this reason, I would like to enthusiastically refer you all to a brilliant little piece titled "There's something dreadful about online relationships", written by the appropriately named saveyoursanity:
There's something dreadful about online relationships.

We all know there's something dreadful about online relationships. I might try to deny it, but the truth is that there's something dreadful about online relationships. And it's not the first thing that comes to people's minds, either. It isn't that you can't touch the person, it isn't whether you can't find out that the person is real, it isn't that you can't kiss the person or have sex with them, and it isn't that you can't wake up with the person and go to sleep with the person.

The truly dreadful thing about online relationships is the way anyone who matters to you is probably going to assume that you're crazy for being in one.

[. . .]

And I can't understand why I even bother to try to explain this to friends who don't understand that I need their support. Some of the truest friends I have have tried to set me straight about all of this, and broke my heart in the process. (And ironically enough, they're usually online friends.) (Hey, Alanis, I used the word ironically correctly! Do I get a cookie?)

And you know what? You guys really do seem so right. I see ideas like "settle for words on a screen", thoughts like "impossible to trust anyone online". "Why should people I've never met affect my feelings?" "You can't know that you love someone if you've never met them." It's hopeful but, somehow, depressingly so when he says "Jenna was a hoax, and yes, Kaycee was a hoax too" and yet "I'll continue to trust people online, because the alternative is far worse".

But still, no, I don't think you're right, but I couldn't tell you why. I've tried over and over again to explain this, and yet everyone keeps offering me the same tidbits in return, the same dull repartee that seems to explain everything in their eyes.

Yes, it's utterly awful to not be able to touch the people that you love. To offer *hugs* and not wrap your arms around the boy, snuggle your nose into his collarbone, into that perfect spot that smells of soap and boy, to giggle and pull him into the bed with you.

Yes, it's utterly depressing to realize that the only way I'm going to be able to do any of that is if we expend huge amounts of money, and the fact that I can't get a fucking job, no matter that I've been trying so damn hard... no, that doesn't help either.

No, I don't enjoy the fact that every moment we talk is another £.03 out of his pocket, or another $.10 out of mine. That we can only communicate via phone or text boxes that flash on my taskbar, honk in my ear until I get annoyed (so easily irritated, me) and click, click, click: play sounds turned off.

But you know what really doesn't help?

(The way that I'm scared to tell my mother that we need to go get me a new passport, because I'm going to England, damnit, and have her look at me and wonder if I've hooked up with an axe murderer.)

The way I have to explain this anew, every day, to people who think that because I am currently in an online relationship, I'm naïve enough to think that everything will be okay, I'm dumb enough to be stupidly optimistic and just blindly trust that things will all work out. To people to whom the word "love" could never, ever, ever come from a long distance relationship, and well, if YOU think so, well, I'm gonna pretend to be a good friend and hope it works out, but damnit, you didn't seem stupid, and you really should know better.

And you think I don't know how much online relationships suck? How much they just FLAT OUT suck? How much the distance interferes with your sanity (haha, yes, saveyoursanity, I got the joke before anyone, 'kay?), how much the miles or kilometres or whatever come between you until you want to rip out your hair, until you want to cry, until you want to leave the house and start walking, damnit, except... except there's still an ocean between you. Except, except you know you have to go back, angrily click on the computer, watch the blinkenlights and the text scroll, the happy little progress bars and then roughly tap out "I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine." Because my friends' thoughts and feelings matter to me, damnit, no matter how they're transmitted.

I read Control Revolution, by Andrew L. Shapiro, about the evolution of the Internet, and how we're soon going to have complete control over this medium which has become a major part of our lives. And one phrase he used to describe this place of cyberspace sticks in my mind, and I'd like to share that phrase with you now: "Lens."

The Internet is not an Elsewhere, to be protected. It is an Everywhere. The Internet has become the lens through which we view the world.

The world, increasingly, is a truly global world, a world where a package can be shipped anywhere for 2.50, 4 if you want to pay for an airplane. There are still packets of jungle, but they're becoming increasingly fewer and farther between. And if you take your laptop, with your cellular modem, you can still surf the web from Madagascar.

I make plans and have a deep conversation with my best friend over AIM and twenty minutes later she comes over and picks me up and we watch some fluffy movie. Which interaction has more value?

There are people that live in my town, whom I only know through livejournal. There are people around the world, whom I only know through livejournal. What's the difference? One requires a five minute walk, the other -- a 15 hour plane ride. Well, I'm sorry, but the likelihood of me meeting either is incredibly low. I'm lazy like that.

But goddamnit, just because I have only tapped out words to these people, or laughed and joked with them on the phone, doesn't make my interactions with them any less real, and I'm tired of explaining it.

I didn't sign up to be a pioneer or a iconoclast. I don't want to have to battle some stereotype created by Hollywood and the general public's view of the Internet as some magical miasmic mist created and populated solely by hackers who drink Jolt and never eat anything that can't be microwaved.

Maybe I'm just hoping the day will come when I say, with actual pride, "I met Joe through the Internet" and that doesn't automatically translate in everyone's minds to "I am a horny, ugly loser who can't get a date in real life".

Two people fell in love one day. Does it matter how?
Tags: jeremy
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