Technology and the Internet have changed a lot of things in our world, including human communication and relationships. Janvi Manchanda tells us more about what virtual relations are all about
In the time of smart phones and internet, where the world has become a global village, virtual relationships have become very common. We normally come across news articles on people who met on the internet and end up getting married and we also come across articles about cyber crimes.
What are virtual relationships?
Virtual – Not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so. A virtual relationship literally means having a relationship with someone in the world that physically does not exist but is made to appear so by a software.
1. Online dating: The most common type of virtual relationship is online dating. Today finding someone to get into a virtual or real relationship is as easy as finding a red dress on an e-commerce website. People use apps and websites like Tinder, TrulyMadly, Fling, Zoosk, OkCupid, Inner Circle, DoingSomething, Hinge, Muddy Match, Happn, and Coffee meets Bagel, among others for online dating. But how can a relationship that does not exist in the physical world be considered as a real relationship? Then there are websites like Shaadi.com, Bharatmatrimony.com, Simplymarry.com and Jeevansathi.com which help people find brides and grooms while sitting at home!
2. Virtual sex: It refers to internet or cyber sex. Exchanging sexually explicit messages, pictures & videos over computers or cell phones is called virtual sex. It is not uncommon for people to send sexually explicit messages to each other. Sexting, phone sex, video sex, etc are very common today.
3. Social Networking: In a time like today, when people don’t have time to make new friends in person or meet up with their friends and catch up on old times, people depend on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc to make new friends and interact with old ones.
4. Online Gaming: People who love gaming tend to play games on the net and end up meeting many anonymous gamers.
5. Chatrooms & Forums: There are many chatrooms & forums where people post their issues and get responses from random strangers on the internet. Forums not only are a very good platform for discussion, but they’re also a very good platform to get reliable information and guidance.
6. Business partnerships and professional relationships: Companies and institutions that have partnerships or dealings with people who are in a different city or country use the internet in an efficient way to connect with them when a face to face meeting isn’t possible. These institutions and companies maintain healthy and professional virtual relationships with people via the internet.
Pros of virtual relationships:
1. Stress Free: Virtual relationships are relatively stressfree as they do not require much effort from people. At a click of a button one can connect with the other person in seconds making it easy to sustain a virtual relationship.
2. No intimacy: In a virtual relationship, the lack of physical presence or touch makes it less intimidating. It can be very easy to flirt with someone over text than in person. It can be very comforting when it comes to professional relationships because negotiating over email might be easier than negotiating face to face.
3. Less Conflict: People tend to fight less when in a virtual relationship as they don’t get complete and verified information.
4. Identity Protection: People have a choice of protecting their identity on internet by using privacy setting or by not giving the correct information or by creating fake profiles.
5. Time Saving: Virtual relationships are time saving. At a click a person can connect with the other person via the computer or the phone and communicate for as long as they want to as it allows them to multi-task.
Cons of virtual relationships:
1. No physical presence: Sometimes physical presence is very important. Two people can date each other via internet but at some point they will need physical presence which is not always possible and brings the relationship to an end.
2. Identity issues: Information on internet is not always verified. A person can be whoever they want to be. In real life someone may not be as fun loving and confident as they appear on their social networking profile. This sometimes leads to identity issues.
3. Addictive: Virtual relationships can be addictive. People get so used to it that it becomes difficult for them to meet & communicate with people in real life, and they tend to get uncomfortable with physical contact and lose confidence. Sometimes it also becomes impossible for them to handle a real life relationship.
4. Sham people: The choice of protecting one’s identity also has a drawback. It gives sham people and fraudsters the freedom to fake their identities and give out wrong information and cheat people on the net. The girl that you’re talking to may not be the girl she says she is or she may not even be a girl! It could be a fake profile made by some boy to trouble some girls or to stalk someone.
5. Cyber crimes: It is very important for us to be extremely careful about the information we share with people on internet. Every day we come across many cyber bullying, cyber stalking and cyber fraud cases. We also come across many cases where personal information, pictures or videos given out to one wrong person turns out to be harmful for the other person. Cyber crimes are very common.
In the end what matters is how carefully you use the internet to connect with people. One wrong person and one wrong move can destroy people and at the same time it helps professional people to make money and get more business. How virtual relationships end depends on us, crime or love; it’s all about how careful we are. Be safe. Be smart. Be virtual.
Nathan William Stevens, 20 years old, S.Y.B.Com, Vidya Bhavan College of Commerce, Pune
It is the physical presence that provides relational, psychological and physiological effects on people which virtual relationships cannot provide. Our thinking changes in the presence of another person and their behaviour. What does ‘I love you’ mean in a virtual relationship? What do you love? How do you love a person you don’t even know properly is the biggest question here and how in today’s time we trust our ‘vibes’ or ‘instinct’ and learn that being physically present can speak the unspoken?
Volume 5 Issue 7