AI: Internet Relationships
The internet, with all its downsides, is a wonderful thing. It allows so many people we otherwise would have never heard of to project their voices over the seas to other continents. There’s no denying its unifying power over geographical frontiers.
On a more personal level, for me, it has always brought great friends, people much more compatible to my personality and my ideologies than those in my “real” life. And this seems to be a reality for a lot of the people I meet, especially if they identify into the queer spectrum.
So I thought I’d ask:
What role does internet play in you interpersonal relationships? Do you think that role is bigger in queer people’s lives?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.
The Internet basically *is* my interpersonal relationships with everyone who isn’t family or work. I have social anxiety disorder; on the Internet, I am actually capable of communicating with people.
I have something of the same experience as an autistic person.
I was actually considered to have social anxiety when I was younger. One reason I feel certain that this was wrong is the social anxiety people I’ve known online… different problems. Not so different that we can’t relate to each other, though, because so many of the same situations are hard but for different reasons.
The internet is a great resource for “weird” people I think. If you speak english, have internet access, and if there’s a few thousand people worldwide in the same boat, you can probably find a few of them. People always say that the internet doesn’t count, that it’s not like “real life,” but for me it can be even more real than some of the situations I’ve been forced into.
I'm actually part of a psychology project looking to develop and accurate measure of attitudes towards online dating/relationships. We're trying to look at both straight and queer attitudes–though we really only have college students as participants. That being said, I have no idea what we'll be able to say, since we've not collected enough data.
I find the net to be a wonderful way of keeping up with people I already know from real life, or for finding out about real life places/events I can go to in order to meet real people. I'm not really interested in having any kind of relationships that do not include a face-to-face component.
I met my husband online back in 1988 on a nationwide network called Quantum Link (Q-Link) which was a network for Commodore 64 owners. It later turned into AOL (this was before it was evil ;D). The last time I looked, AOL still had the chatroom we met in (Red Dragon Inn, a place for roleplaying gamers).
He lived on Long Island, I lived in Alaska. We only met face to face when he moved up to become my roommate in Alaska. I fell in love with him immediately when I saw him, and I think the culture shock made him take a day or so to fall for me. We’ve bee together ever since.
This story is so much more complicated than I’m saying here but it’s a lovely one, anyway. 🙂 So we’re sorta pioneers. Meeting and falling in love online before most people even realized there was such a thing as “online”.
I think it’s absolutely a crucial aspect of many queer people’s social lives. Especially in the last 15 years or so, it’s provided queer youth with a completely accessible, in-home, automatic safe space in which they can explore their feelings and identities before addressing those issues in real life with people they know in the meatspace. Natalie I think talked about this a little bit on her blog–how online presence allows for the exploration of new roles. I don’t have the link handy, but if someone does feel free to post it.
I can’t even imagine what is was like to be a young queer person before that was possible–going to a bookstore or club for the first time must have been terrifying. And how did you know you wanted to go there in the first place? It would have been so…mysterious…a place spoken of in whispers and half-jokes at best.
Not to mention the way text facilitates difficult conversations–the first several times I told people I was gay it was via IM. Then again, I still prefer IM to most means of communication….