Now would a website on relationships have any use unless we talked about the latest and greatest transformation of relationships - relationships on the internet.
The Internet is about making many new and different connections with people, some just down the street and others on the other side of the world. Stories abound with the sophisticated ways that people have meet and forged new relationships on the Internet.
Like the woman in Australia who visited chat rooms around the globe and met her new husband. They communicated by IRC and email for months until they decided to meet. They then met in Sydney and were married 6 months later.
We no longer consider it strange to order that book from the bookseller in the United States with our Credit Card. Or emailing daily to friends about the latest thing we have found on the net.
Before the existence of the Internet, relationships used all the other types of technology, telephone, fax, snail mail to communicate. What is distinctive about this communication is that before they initiated the connection they knew who they wanted to communicate with. Even if they did not know the person they did have some clues to who they were, where they lived and why they might need to make contact with this person(s).
The Internet has provided us with a particularly new way of relating. We can log on to the net and meet new people everyday and all we will know about them is what we see on the screen. That is what their name and cyber address and what they actually type into their computer.
We can strike up friendships or just very brief chats with people and never lay eyes on them or speak to them in person. Some people would say that is no way to have a relationship, yet millions of people do it now daily.
The Internet is an informal anonymous place to meet people. People don't know what you do or what you look like. You can change your sex, job, sexual preferences, age, and culture. You are known by what you write. You are allowed incredible freedom of expression, any expression you choose. As much as the other person only knows what you tell them the same applies to you.
How can you know about the man who says he lives in downtown LA, who you have been chatting with for the last 3 months?
As much as it is exciting to explore the cyber-planet earth, there are risks involved. These risk are there when we choose to make a change in this cyber relationship. This might be moving from public to a private chat room, starting to correspond by email, starting to communicate by telephone or even arranging a rendezvous in the real world.
The risks are highest when we move from cyberspace into the real world, as we are basing our decision to meet the other person on only information we are told, not something we can independently assess. When we meet someone in the flesh we hear not only what they say, but notice their body language and nonverbal cues and also their overall behaviour in real time.
The Internet can be a place of immense deception or great honesty, more honesty than some people would normally be in the real world, an interesting paradox. The art of thriving in cyberspace involves knowing the difference and being cautious at the right times. There are horror stories of people who have not be cautious at the right times or with the right people.
If you choose to meet someone in the real world after meeting them in cyber space,
Don't go alone, have someone you trust with you and do it in a public place.
Start the relationship anew. When people first meet and start new relationships they check each other out and then gradually reveal themselves bit by bit and so bring down their barriers and protection. When you meet a cyber traveler in the flesh treat it like a new beginning and make sure you have your barriers up, even if you think you know this person, they might not be who they say they are or who you expect them to be.
Be in control of what is happening. Don't allow yourself to do anything that you don't want to do and make sure you have ways to leave the situation safely.
*Edit: On another note, I'm wondering if anyone would be willing to help me raise money to go see my wonderful Mikey in Australia this November by advertising my new LJ shop or even purchasing something if you like. Right now I need the word spread more than anything! Thank you all.