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The Daily SlackerThe Daily Slacker

Slacker Week - Net and LD Dating

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

To any of you just joining this blog in progress, welcome to Slacker Week!

As promised here is "Net and Distance Dating Pt.2 (The Real Story)."

About a week ago, I wrote a post talking about how technology, to me, seems to be slowly killing romance. As is typical with me and my easily sidetracked mind, it devolved into a rant about Chivalry, Love letters and other things. I'll try my best to keep more on track this time. Most of the comments seemed to focus on the email and also having long distance and/or online relationships. Since the commenting about the subject was very interesting I feel it really needs it's own post, so here one is. I'm going to take some of the stuff mentioned in your comments, and also fill you in more on my thoughts and feelings on Net and long distance relationships.

First off, I love and gladly embrace technology. I'm a nerd, I'll admit it. If you're reading this you've got some nerdyness to ya too. You are surfing the net and you are reading a blog. Like it or not you're partly nerd. Technology has done wonderful things with the world. Communication, even around the globe, is incredibly easy now. We're living long enough now that we're not all that worried about doing things to shorten our lives (Anyone up for a couple Double Quarter Pounders and a Cigarette?). Technology can most definitely be wonderful.

That being said I think it also causes a couple major problems. One is since technology makes life easier, it also can make people lazier. Another is that it's easier to cheat and deceive people. Both of those can combine to completely dilute relationships.

To me, the difference between an online ("Net") relationship (this can include being mostly over the phone too) and a long distance ("LD") one is the footing of said relationship. In an LD relationship, the couple involved have a firm footing in person. They've spent a good deal of time together know the other person well. In a net relationship, they have either not met in person, or only done so in infrequent, short (less than a week) periods of time.

I really do believe that if you have that strong personal foundation an LD relationship can work. Technology can be a good thing in those relationships and help make things work. Net relationships, however, are where the problems I mentioned earlier come in. Laziness and deception can easily sneak in and hurt net relationship without ever knowing.

Email, text messaging, instant messaging and posting online can be great for quick notes. The problem with quick notes though is that they're rarely well thought out. That leaves a huge door open to misinterpretation and miscommunication. Anyone who has instant messaged much I'm sure has had that problem. Even something well thought out can be misunderstood without the proper context. They're just nowhere near as good a form of communication as speaking in person or on the phone. Even a handwritten letter and provide more personality and context that might not be seen in the others. I just have to say again that stuff like "I Luv U" and "wat u up 2?" BAD!!! Orwell may have been a little off with the date in "1984" but when I see writing like that it's all I can think of. It's Double Plus Ungood.

The bigger problem with mostly or fully online relationships is how incredibly easy it is to deceive. The deception can be one person to another, but more often I think it's each person to themself. Everyone's heard stories of of a person claiming to be some athletic hottie, but then turning out to Jabba the Hut. People can lie about themself and their feelings, they can do that in person too, but it makes it way easier online. Even if that doesn't occur, at least one of the people in the relationship could very easily lying to themself.

Even with in-person relationships, there can be a heavy dose of self-deception. How many people have gotten married and later divorced after muttering "Once we're married he/She will change." When the relationship is online, there is less information with which you can make a good decision about the person. In time you can find more and more out about the person, but at best, I think you can never really be in love with the person only the personality. Anyone who says they're in love with someone they have never really been around, is just fooling themself. There's so much to a person that doesn't come out by talking. I don't care how many emoticons someone uses, that's nothing compared to a little body language. And who hasn't dated someone who had some little personal habit that drove them insane?

That all being said this is obviously my own personal opinion, so let me give you some personal background. A whole lot of what was said above stems from one relationship I had that definitely had a healthy dose of both of the baddies listed above.

Years back, I used to work on a national collegiate online community. I helped maintain the site, did reviews, wrote articles and held chats. I also met this one girl. We chatted online a ton, and eventually on the phone a ton as well. I saw a lot of pictures and I really got to liking this girl and at the time probably would have said love. Even my parents chatted, talked with her and liked her. We sent her Christmas presents and she sent us presents. It was most definitely a relationship.

Eventually there was bad news, she had been diagnosed Leukemia. We still kept in contact online and on the phone. I talked with her mom here and there and my parents and I sent get well gifts. She went in and out of treatments and got better here and there. She eventually met someone else and of course I was upset. We did eventually get back to being friends, and in the meantime she had gotten a pretty big following in the Blog world talking about her treatments. One day I went to her blog and nothing was there but a flower and a note from her mother stating she had died due to complications with a treatment. Many people were upset and felt for her.

Many people were much more upset when they found out she wasn't real.

Her name? Kaycee Nicole Swenson. Yes, she even has her own Wikipedia entry. Make sure to read the second external link to Snopes.com. This thing made it so far as to be posted on news sites in Brazil. Luckily since I was early on in the game, I didn't get pulled into the aftermath.

After some web-savvy types did some snooping, it turned out the person who was her "mom" was really her and made up the personality. Considering how much time she spent "being" Kaycee, it was an impressive act. The pictures were of a local high school basketball star and the stories were a compilation of things she had been around in her life. She duped me, but I also duped myself. I liked the personality, but personality doesn't make the person.

Do I think people can make it after starting a relationship online? Absolutely. Can people make it in a long distance relationship? Definitely! Would I take a chance on someone who lives a long way from me? Yeah! I would love to have the opportunity to meet Long Distance Girl and get to know the person behind the personality I like so much. With OG, I know the person already, it's just trying to get the chance.

Yeah, technology has made it easier to communicate, but are we truly communicating? Quick communication only gets us so far. I really think that in the world today, far too many people are in love with personalities, not in love with the person. Which one are you?

posted by Chief Slacker @ 1:43 PM,


At Tue Oct 18, 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Pieces of Me said...

I know I wasn't going to comment but I feel bad for what happened...and I wanted to be #1! TTYN

At Tue Oct 18, 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Chief Slacker said...

Pieces - No need to feel bad cutie, it's long done and gone. Congrats on #1 ;o)

At Tue Oct 18, 06:17:00 PM, Blogger Kira said...

Yes, that's one of the problems with online communication...potential for hiding things is much greater because you can't SEE him or her. For me, as an English Prof, I usually manage to cut through the crap by month three of talking online. Why? Well, the person is using writing as his or her medium. I am GOOD with writing. I can analyze writing and see this or that, plus file away discrepancies easily enough (as I often have to do with the very works of literature I teach). That's why one of my firm rules that I only broke once is: talk to me for three months steadily online or longer before you even get my home phone number, and you have to have a webcam so I can see you are YOU. I broke that one once when a couple of folks I trusted had already contacted the person, and I don't regret it as he turned out to be exactly who he said he was. And he really needed friends. So, no regrets.

Yes, meeting in person is essential for an online relationship to become "real." I once had a heady relationship with a fellow online and LOVED the phone sex *coughs*, but then when we met in person...well, the best thing I can say is, he didn't smell right? I'm very smell oriented. Anyway, he thought I smelled great so he wanted to pursue and I wanted to run :P Awkward!

As you know, my relationship with Alex worked out and it started online. In his case, though, I wasn't thinking in terms of romance. He visited me as a friend for three weeks from France, and THEN we hit it off! Three years after we met in person and two years since we started dating, we're going great.

Life is a crapshoot. When do you want to take the risks? Without the risks, you earn no reward. I have had MORE men deceive me in person than I have on the net, actually. So...I suppose the risk would be worth it to me, even after finding out that one guy I adored online was, in person, somebody I would never date. Hey, I've dated guys I met only in person and found that fact out after date three before! You just don't know until you are willing to risk it.

At Tue Oct 18, 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My little sister met and married a guy from CA, all because of an online dating site. They have a little boy now and are living in CA. We miss her terribly, but I think she's happy, so yes - it can work out.

But man - so sorry about that chick who was a fake. That's terrible.

I will take the camera with me tomorrow and take some pics of my slacking...

At Tue Oct 18, 08:13:00 PM, Blogger Cerridwen said...

what can I say...been a victim and I can relate. Learned my lesson and much careful now... tell me whatever the heck you want to tell me...but don't question what I believe and don't assume we are in a relationship until you actually wake up in the morning with my face in front of yours

people are entitled to build a dream world and live in it. But they should also be ready to suffer the consequences of living in that dream world and taking in innocent people to live in it with them.

At Wed Oct 19, 09:33:00 AM, Blogger Chef Bouillon said...

I think we all know stories of online dating that works and doesn't. I'm so naive, I would probably do it, even after the following, which happened to my (crazy, may he RIP) father:

He met a woman online from Columbia. (Why this didn't AUTOMATICALLY set off red flags I will never know). They talked blah blah and finally after about 2 months or so he decides it will be a good idea to go to Columbia (yes, the country in south America!) to visit her. He arrives and it turns out that, yep, she was trying to get money out of the American. Her family was connected with the Columbian army. My father claims he then spent the next few days hiding out in Bogata trying to keep out of the way of the army and barely made it back to the US. (I guess there was a tense moment when the early plane he caught was searched by the army before takeoff). He then proceeded to open his mailbox with a stick for the next six months.

Granted, he was already a little odd. And the mailbox/stick thing is probably some sort of throwback from 'Nam. But my point is simply that you never know what you're getting into. At least with a blind date you have the recommendation of someone you KNOW. It just seems risky but I can totally see why people do it. Who doesn't want to find love, right?

At Wed Oct 19, 09:39:00 AM, Blogger NWJR said...

I've been "online" for well over a decade now, so I've experienced much of what you're talking about.

Early on in my AOL days (Version 2.0--I once had a $300 online bill. Yikes), I got involved with a group of people that I still keep in touch with. One of them, "KathyK", was the "helper" of our group. She was a graphic artist, and an incredible fountain of knowledge.

She had been sick with Cancer, but one day, we got the news that she was gone. It was my first experience with "losing" a friend I had never met. As we shared our common bonds among the group, I commented that Kathy was "the finest person I never met".

Someone from our group attended her funeral. My words were read by Kathy's mother as part of her eulogy.

It's a strange, disconnected feeling. Yeah, my real-life friends and family didn't "get" my sorrow at her passing.

At Wed Oct 19, 11:19:00 AM, Blogger dasi said...

I think a big draw of the online thing is the fact that it IS pretty much fantasy… you can allow yourself to believe whatever you want to, and sometimes the written words can blind you to other possible, shall we say, “character defects?” Some people are just better at writing than at actually talking, and after communicating online for a while a meeting in person may be a big letdown.

Sure, internet dating may work for some people, but it’s not for me. I tend to get my hopes up too high based on my little fantasy, and end up hurt. I definitely enjoy communicating via blogs and e-mails with friends in cybersapce, but as far as relationships? I’d much prefer meeting people the old-fashioned way, face to face, not computer to computer.

At Wed Oct 19, 11:44:00 AM, Anonymous orientation girl said...

I agree with Dasi. Most of the time when we are attracted to someone that we don't really know we fantasize that they are this really great person. Online relationships make it very easy for us to do this. Personally I find it hard to be attracted to someone online. The romantic nature of being thrown together randomly in real life instead of by a computer is invigorating. Maybe I am a naive romantic but I don't believe in settling or fooling myself in love. Perhaps in the future I will change in how I fall for someone but right now naivety rules.

At Wed Oct 19, 12:10:00 PM, Blogger Amber said...

Wow. That's a really interesting (and kind of freaky) story. Wow.

I think there's a big difference between online dating and, well, online dating. With one, you are matched up through a specific dating website and you both live in the same town (or close) and the whole point is to meet. With the other, it's like what everyone else says -- the fantasy. You can be who you want and the other person can be who they want without the risk of having to meet in person if you don't want to.

Anyway. Hope that made a little sense, at least.

At Wed Oct 19, 02:48:00 PM, Blogger karla said...

Holy crap! That story blows my mind--which isn't saying much, since I have a lightweight, wispy little mind.


At Wed Oct 19, 07:40:00 PM, Blogger Taylor said...

OMIGOSH! I am stunned. That chick must have not had a real life. I cannot believe that someone actually took the time to research her. I am so sorry Slacker, that had to rough.

I know several people that have met online and ended up moving in together and getting married. I personally do not think I could ever do that. I think it would be much easier to out and try to meet someone who lives in the same city or close by. I guess I'm just not a risk taker though now that I'm settled down and married. Who knows what I would do if I was single!

At Thu Oct 20, 09:46:00 AM, Blogger Chief Slacker said...

Kira - I'm usually VERY good at spotting fakes to. I have a great BS-o-meter and and gauge personality very well. Sometimes a few slip through the cracks though. Just gotta keep paying attention. I've had some onine stuff, obviously had one bad one, but sicne then I have had a couple deent ones, nothing grand though.

Jaded - yeah, I've heard good stories too, though time will tell if all of these things that "seem" to be working out really do. There's really no such thing as permanent anymore. I'll have to check in on said slacking :O)

Carridwen - I agree, it can be fun, but it's not a true relationship till you're face to face. And yeas, consequesnces can be a bitch.

Chef Bouillon - Yeah, I think the whole Columbia thing would have thrown up a HUGE red flag to me too. Heh. I'd go out of state to meet someone, but out of the country is a little much! I hope the RIP wasn't due to a columbian hit man!

NWJR - Yeah a lot of people didn't uderstand those of use who were upset about "Kaycee" since none of us "really" knew her. It's amazing how people can get attached using just words!

Dasi - I completely agree, I think that is a huge huge thing with Online stuff. It really IS fantasy, you make up the details you don't know, then when you meet the eprson it can be a huge letdown. I would meet soemone from online, but I'd have to know a good deal about them and have talked to them quite a bit.

OG - Oh yeah, Everyone wants to meet the perfect person and hope then next person they meet is that person. It's way to easy to tell yourself this person you don't really know is the one.

Amber - yeah it was a pretty screwed up situation. I still keep the framed picture of "her" in my closet somewhere as a reminder. And I'm fine with meeting someone online and then getting together and dating. I'm not such a fan of poeple saying they're "dating" when they only talk online and on the phone. That seems like it's jsut a huge lie.

Karla - Yeah it blew my mind and still does. And I think you mind is a lot less lightweight than you let on ;O)

Taylor - There's no way she had a real life. Supposedly she had two kids in real life. the time she spent online and on the phone with people is crazy. It was tough for a while, but things pass. I know of people who have met online and done well too. I'm open to it, but I'm not going to fool myself either.

At Fri Oct 21, 04:57:00 AM, Blogger OzzyC said...

I got suckered by an online persona a few years back too. Her online name was Jezzabel, she was from Hawaii, about my age, and we met on an online community for people trying to quit smoking.

We chatted on and off for a while. I leaned on her for support when I got divorced, and that's when shit wasn't adding up. Let's see here, she's a native of Hawaii, but when she'd call, the prefix was from the Atlanta area and she had an east coast accent.

Eventually, she told me that Kahli (her "real" name) was an online persona that started as a joke and snowballed out of control. She claimed that she'd come clean with most everyone else, but....

She asked me not to hate her, and to keep in touch. I responded that I didn't hate her, and that I'd give the real her a chance, but no more b.s. In the end, I just decided that it wasn't worth the work. She had deceived me, and I was going through a divorce with another woman who had deceived me. Shit was too complicated, and I needed to simplify things. So I cut her out of my life.

I wasn't hurt by Janet (Kahli's "real" name), I was disappointed. Disappointed in her, and more disappointed in me for not catching on earlier.


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