Reading Erich R. Markle and Rhonda A. Richardon’s article, I’m surprised – and a little impressed – that people have been meeting their future spouses online as early as 1994. Still, I don’t feel like the article has retained relevance over the years. It was published in the year 2000, before the social media boom, before Skype, and before most suburban homes had internet access. Its contents relate to internet technology and culture, which undergo drastic changes every few years.
The article says things like “the global presence of the internet diminishes the need for spatial proximity,” which to me seems like wild speculation, because in my experience, long-term online relationships are partially grounded on anticipation of getting to meet in person. Relationships that don’t involve wanting to meet in person are equivalent to real-life acquaintanceships, which have similar abundance online and in real-life. Then there’s the line, “there is a noticeable lack of empirical research specifically dealing with romantic internet relationships.” For me, this heavily invalidates the article, as a lack of empirical evidence raises a red flag for any discussion topic.
Fourteen years later however, we do have more studies and surveys and have found that one third of couples who married between 2005 and 2012 found love online, and online relationships lead to more marriage satisfaction and less divorce. While I take all information like this with a dose of skepticism – especially considering the survey was funded by eHarmony – this sounds like significant improvement. Amongst the waves of statements like “the internet is ruining our culture” and “this is the lazy generation,” we have, “people are a little more likely to find romantic fulfilment.”
As for the movie Noah, I found the protagonist’s experiences to be atypical of that of an average person in my generation, though, they probably weren’t supposed to be. As a cartoonist, I’ll be the first to admit that realism not necessary to make a good film. Also, directorial intent is difficult to determine, so I can’t gauge whether or not the film was successful in what it was trying to portray. To me, Noah’s flaws and mistakes did not seem to be caused by his internet presence or by his online relationships, but instead by the fact that he was just kind of a jerk and an idiot. No, there’s no better way to put it. While I liked the creative way Noah was filmed, I am not a fan of its non-subtle social commentary.
I’ve only ever been in one romantic relationship, which has been going for about two and a half years now. I wouldn’t call it an “online relationship,” even though we met online, live forty minutes away, and do a lot of talking on Skype. We still meet in person as often as we can and wish we could live closer to each other. We still value each other as much as people who can meet up every day do. When people would ask how we met, I used to expect negative reactions. To my surprise, people would say, “that’s cool!” or “a lot of people are doing that these days.” It’s a relief to know that there’s not much of a stigma towards online dating and meeting people online, as their used to be.