Relationships are more than skin-deep

You’ve heard it a thousand times, from the time you were a little kid who thought the coolest thing to do on the computer was to play “Put-Put Saves the Zoo,” to now, when your parents warn you about it. I’m talking about the supposedly terrifying people from the internet.

Now, there’s usually two camps when it comes to this issue: there’s the people who think that the internet is full of people who want to gruesomely murder you, and then there’s the people who know that there’s lots of different kinds of people on the internet, from all walks of life, good and bad. I’m in the latter group.

A lot of people think that for some reason, relationships started and maintained online aren’t as deep as the communications you get face-to-face. That seeing each other equates to emotional connection, But it’s just not true.

I have a few good friends that live in this state and that I see face-to-face regularly. These people are dear to me–but they are rare. I’m very selective about my friendships. I Don’t enjoy relationships based on shallow small talk. I like people who can hold steady conversations about life, the universe, and everything. Not to insult the intelligence of my age group, but these kinds of people are just not a dime a dozen.

Online, it’s different.

It doesn’t matter if you meet on a forum that discusses chicken breeding, or a midstream where you beg for free art. The point is, you have a common interest, And things go on from there.

Some of the closest friendships I’ve ever had are online. I have a working theory as to why, which is that when you meet someone, you begin to judge them based on their outward appearance. It doesn’t matter if you do it consciously or not. We’ve been conditioned to like people that are prettier, people that are richer, people that look cleaner. It doesn’t matter if the tattoo’d and pierced girl you think is a punk volunteers at soup kitchens on their days off, or the girl who dresses in rotting clothes and looks down when she walks is abused every day by her parents. You will make assumptions. Online, all you have is the person’s words or their voice. And since there’s still a barrier of anonymity, you can confess or vent or just talk about things you are too afraid to reveal to anyone else.

You get to know each other more than anyone else. And even though the distance hurts sometimes, because when they’re having a bad day or they live in a horrible situation you can’t help, it still is nice to have someone who isn’t going to judge you based on your facial symmetry or the clothes you wear, but by your words alone.

Of course caution is due. You always have to be wary about people you meet online. But I think the extreme technophobia that so many adults are trying desperately beat into our heads every day is a bit much. Yes, it’s true that students can be stupid and jump the gun when it comes to relationships, revealing too much personal information before you know whether or not the person you’re talking to is legitimate, but that goes for real life too. The internet, many seem to forget, is not made of faceless machines, but real people, just with comfortable anonymity. The people we see online are a reflection of our society, so students are meeting people who they could have just as easily met on the street. Except you’re going to be judging them on their words, and if things ever do get nasty, you can block them and never have to deal with them again. Judging based on the content of their character, in the end, has quite a bit of payoff.