Monday, 30 June 2014

does being online affect our relationships?


A few weeks ago in Grazia there was a really interesting article entitled "Are online relationships more intimate than real ones?" Which as someone who uses the internet to maintain the majority of the relationships in their life, got me thinking. 

A new study from Queen's University in New York has found that online conversations with partners are more open and honest than those you have in the flesh. Interesting right. And while I don't 100% agree with the studies findings I do think there is an interesting discussion to be had. 

Twenty-something's like myself are growing more and more reliant on the internet to develop, maintain and even end our personal relationships. We are a generation of social media obsessed professionals who include the online world in the most precious moments of our day. Just look at bloggers; we write about everything (or almost everything) and publish it, giving the world the authority to read and judge us. 

But it is our personal relationships that I guess, are helped or hindered by being online. As someone who has been in a long distance relationship on and off for several years, the internet is my savior. It allows me to have that instant contact with the boyfriend which would otherwise be missing. We can share moments of our day in real time, over what'sapp, get a look at each others dinners via Instagram and talk face to face via Skype.

In our case being online is a necessity rather than simply a lazy way of communicating. I would give up the internet in a heartbeat if I meant I could swap our Skype time for a real life date night. However I do wonder whether we talk more freely to each other through the internet than when we are face to face or whether actually it is the other way round. Do we hold our tongues more when we're online, to spare each other's feelings and enjoy the precious moments of communication we do get, rather than spending them arguing across Skype. 

Being online has been crucial to our relationship. But I don't think it has made us any less honest when we are together. Maybe we let the smaller things go; time apart has taught us to appreciate the moments when we are together and with that comes a realisation that his socks strewn across the floor and my need to tidy stuff away are just little drops in the ocean which although may be annoying, can certainly be overlooked.

I guess it comes down to a balancing act. We have almost become socialized to use our smartphones throughout every aspect of our day and as such it is logical that it is easier for us to convey our feelings across whatsapp. And I'm sure many people in the future will have a problem resulting from this. Maybe we will loose our backbones, or the ability to voice our opinions and emotions when a real life situation of potential conflict rears it's ugly head.

Possibly. But I guess that's a symptom of modern society we will have to accept because I can't see the demise of the internet coming any time soon.

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