It is an illusion we want. When we walk beside a rose bush, we touch the rose. “Oh, it is so beautiful!” We make lovely bouquets with it and present it to near and dear ones on occasion. However, the very same rose bush has thorns. These thorns are not as pretty as the rose, though every rose bush has them. We do not, however, accept these thorns. Even one prick would instantly make us forget all the beauty of the rose bush and hate it instantly. Yet again, in an instant we are drawn to the flower and its beauty, and we loathe that it has to have those thorns.
Such is our demand for a world of convenience that we wish to change everything around us. As our understanding of the world around us increases in its complexity and dimensions, it becomes easier for us to manipulate, or rather design, our surroundings and ourselves. At it’s most basic level, the need or the desire to remodel the world around us stems from our instinct of self-preservation. We do not want to feel threatened in any way from the elements.
This is the same with online relationships. If you have been on the Internet long enough, then you would inevitably have had the opportunity to become friends through with people from around the world. I have been on the Internet since 1997 and that by far is a very long time. I have tried every form of chatting to include the simple java based webchat, Internet Relay Chat, the online messengers of today, and metaverses.
The greatest lesson I have learnt from these relationships is that they never last. The number one reason is how relationships develop. It develops very quickly and ends just as fast. People keep searching for others who share their own interests and the kind of “perfect” people they do not get to meet in their real lives. They put a lot of expectation into this relationship.
In the more concrete real world relationship, friends are not sugar coated. You are often exposed to all the facets of a person’s character, including their good and bad sides. On the Internet however, it is a very shallow relationship. People would make friends with you since they fancy your style or charisma. Once they get to know you for a longer period of time, you end up inevitably telling them your troubles and your frustrations. The majority of online friends have very little patience to listen to your problems. They would eventually find some reason to break off the relationship.
The reason is very simple and it is mostly the ease with which these relationships can be terminated: all they have to do is erase the person’s data from their computer, online portfolios, and messenger lists, and poof, they are gone forever. Once they do that, they send a nice rosy email that would appear very decent on the outside but is filled with the hidden meaning that the person no longer wishes to be contacted again. They then immediately find another partner with their likes and dislikes at the click of a mouse on any given social networking website.
Most of the people who do such rapid switching have often been burned in the past in their real lives. They may have had bad relationships or they may be people who cannot understand that a person is not always rosy and has their bad spells, too. They think life is a freaking fairy tale where the prince is always charming. The moment the prince stops smiling, they get bored and expel them from their lives, or rather drop them from their towers.
It is extremely rare to find an online friend who goes beyond the “Aww, I’m so sorry to hear that, hon” expression and really spends time with you in your darkest hours. The moment you show your anger or your frustration, they sever their ties with you and start a relationship with another person.
Thus, online relationships are very shallow. To a person who is not centered and faces such shallow relationships, they would lose their confidence in relating to people in the real world. They would see the person who deserted them online in the real world and this would ruin any chances they have in their real, concrete lives.
The people who rapidly sever ties with online friends do not realize the potential damage they may be doing to another person’s life. For them, the trouble is over and they move on with their box of charms to another victim. To the victim, it takes a long time to heal, especially in situations where they may not have a loved one to tell these things to. This is part of the reason why people who spend a lot of time on the Internet fail to relate properly to people in the real world.
What is the remedy? Online relationships should simply be taken only as far as making simple friendships to learn about cultures, traditions, or common hobbies. It may also be a good idea to continue a relationship forged in real lives online, such as a spouse who is away on a business trip would continue their romances via video conferencing. However, it is always risky and mostly stupid to search for a real life partner through chat rooms or virtual worlds since most of these people are extremely shallow and only want to see the rosy and romantic sides of life and have no patience to listen to your troubles.
To the broken hearted, you must think of yourself as the rose bush. It is a shallow person who only likes your flowers. The real people would not mind getting pricked once in a while as they like you for who you are.
As for the rose plant, the most remarkable thing is that the rose plant does not care! It continues to bloom in all its glory with all its thorns. Remember, it is the thorns that protect the rose plant from casual passers-by from plucking their most valued asset. So, choose carefully to whom you give your flowers.
Parents must protect their teenage children from such emotional damage. Not all online relationships are bad, but people should not place all their hopes on the Internet to find the relationships of their choice. The real world is still a far richer place for finding real people.