Technology is significantly changed the way we interact. Our world has become smaller and smaller. The way we communicate has become quicker and quicker. We no longer meet organically. We meet through machines. The way we perceive relationships has also changed through technology.
One of my favorite TV shows, Catfish. Is based on online relationships. This show has blown me away by the stories of hundreds of people across the country and their internet romantic relationships. It all began with Nev, a young photographer in New York City who developed a relationship with a supposed young painter who was a fan of his work. He connected with his family and began having feelings his older sister. They would text and talk on the phone daily and had an intimate relationship. Nev still lived in New York City while this girl lived in rural Michigan. Nev’s two best friends documented their relationship on a video camera. They set out to go try and meet his girlfriend in person. When they reached her house they were all shocked to discover that he was actually talking to a 50 year old married women who had created an ulterior family for herself on the internet. She would use this family to escape her current life and pretended to be a young girl who had fallen in love with Nev. Nev had much sympathy for the older women and her situation.
After releasing the story as a documentary, it blew up. People were fascinated by the false yet very real
relationships that developed online. Many people also have similar stories and connected with Nev. MTV picked up the story and saw an opportunity to showcase and help others in similar situations. MTV created Catfish with Nev to help showcase these stories. They provide the opportunity to connect individuals in online relationships face to face to discover the truth. It is currently on its 4th season and is one of MTV’s most successful shows.
The internet has become infamous for people who lie about who they are and who they are not. Yet people still desire community and intimate relationships. The internet provides a way of escape, it allows individuals to create an alternate reality and a place of safety.
In many ways I believe this has hurt our modern dating environment. We are constantly connected and always communicating through different machines. It takes a lot of effort to refrain from overdoing it at the beginning of a relationship. It removes any air of mystery, it doesn’t allow for the heart to grow founder in absence nor does it allow for healthy distance.
In response to our current dating environment with all of the online dating sites and apps, a man in London created a short film of trying to find a date offline. I have tremendous respect for him and his project. It was recognized a staff pick on Vimeo and began trending online. The comments by some of the women in the film make sense. People are skeptical of others due to the reputations of strangers from the media and stories like Catfish. One women in the film calls the main character, Tom, brave for trying to meet women the old fashioned way. What she says is very true, it takes courage to go up and introduce yourself to someone of the opposite sex in person, more so now then ever before.
So, what do we do about it?
In all honesty, I am not sure there is anything we can do about it but learn how to operate with technology in a healthy manner. It has become abnormal to simply introduce yourself to someone and ask them out. There can also be dishonesty in building an online relationship. It is important, as with many things, that it is all about balance. Connecting online is a tool that can be used to help a relationship continue to grow but too much of anything is a bad thing. Making sure you balance internet relations with space and face time is crucial.