Computer Mediated Relationships VS. Face-to-Face Relationships

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In “Digital Dating and Virtual Relating: Conceptualizing Computer Mediated Romantic Relationships”, Erich R. Merkle and Rhonda A. Richardson suggest that computer mediated relationships (CMR) follow an opposite development sequence compared to the face-to-face romantic relationships. “The development of a face-to-face relationship moves from initial encounter, based on spatial proximity and physical attractiveness, to discovery of similarities and to self-disclosure. In contrast, most Internet romantic relationships progress through an inverted developmental sequence” (189). I totally agree with this idea. However, based on this acknowledgement, the authors further claims that “it is plausible to suggest that because of the inverted developmental sequence described previously, CMR may be characterized by a higher degree of personal investment of time and self-disclosure that typical of face-to-face relationships. This greater investment may result in a stronger commitment to work through disagreements and maintain the relationship” (189). I want to bring another point of view to challenge this idea. Computer mediated relationships may reveal more information than real ones, but the quality and credibility of the information should be doubted. Behind the screen, people have time to think and reply. They also don’t have to expose their facial expressions and tone of language. Moreover, fake identities are often created to achieve certain purpose. Thus, misunderstanding and misinterpretation may easily happen. From my point of view, computer mediated relationships lack authenticity and realness. I would rather choose less but real information than more but fake one.

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In the film Noah (2013), we can see the shortcoming of electronic devices as well as the importance of physical presence. Graduation departure causes Amy start to worry about their relationship next year. If they decide to go to the same college and distance is not a problem, maybe the whole breaking up thing will not happen in the first place. With the high technology right now, Noah is able to define possible rival in love through Facebook, which raises more suspicion. Essentially, I think this sad ending is all caused by themselves. Nowadays, people like to change for a new one when something is broken instead of fixing it in the past. Not having a boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly makes you a loser. More and more people get involved in a relationship just because they need one, not because they like or love the person they are with. In addition, people feel empty and lonely physically and spiritually when they are not in a relationship. In another word, they don’t know how to deal with solitude so that they avoid it by all means. However, the truth is solitude is a very important ability because we can know ourselves better through it. If we don’t know ourselves really well, we cannot get along with other people well either. Acknowledgement of oneself is not only the bedrock for forming relationship with other people, but also crucial for self-development along the way.

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Personally, I don’t believe in long-distance relationship and neither do I support for online dating nor virtual relationship. My only boyfriend and I have been together for nearly six years and we broke up a few weeks ago. He is my first love and junior high school classmates. We got into relationship when we were high school students in different cities and could only see each other during holiday. Then we went to the same city Shanghai for college but different schools. Basically we see each other every week at that time and two years passed. I decided to study abroad which he wanted to continue his in China. We know something will be very different when we are in different country, but on the other hand, we also have faith in each other according to our history and experience. However, you can never image something when you have actually gone through that. Time difference, future development direction, family issues all become conflicts between us. Holding on to such situation for half a year, neither of us could stand it anymore and we broke up. What I am trying to say is important physical presence and geography factors are. If you eventually want to be with someone and get married, you two have to live together and see each other almost every day. Without these physical conditions, I don’t think anything is going to work out.

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One comment

  1. I agree with the idea that facial expression and tone of voice are not exposed when having online conversations. There are truly important in communication and trying to set an idea and emotion forward. It is hard to interpret texts all the time. When texting someone, how many times do we actually laugh out loud when we type “LOL” I like your post and the moral you bring out. Physical presence is definitely important in developing a strong relationship.

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