If you didn't already get this from the trailer, this TV show "Catfish", is about people trying to figure out if their online love is actually who they say they are.
Online love?! This wouldn't have been said 20 years ago, but in this day and age, their are countless couples that are developing relationships just from chatting over the internet. Just look at all the sites meant for online dating. They range from the general (Eharmony) to the specific (Farmers Only).
Do these relationships, Computer Mediated Relationships as they are often called, share the same intimacy as relationships that develop face to face? That was the question that we were asked. The following is my answer (Warning: please don't hate me if you have an online relationship)
We can answer this question in terms of Social Information Processing Theory. This theory details the development of online relationships. There are a few assumptions that I think both explain this theory and explain my own answer.
Now let me first say, if you have an online relationship and it's working for you, go for it. Who am I to judge, I've never been in one. This is just my own opinion.
Anyways, here they are:
1. It provides unique opportunities to interact with people.
2. You are more likely to develop a favorable impression of yourself.
3. They require more time and more interactions to become intimate.
As far as the first assumption, it totally is a good way to meet people. But, that's exactly it, meet people. I think that eventually you need the connection of sharing a personal space.
The second assumption, you are more likely to develop a favorable few. Yes, this is totally true. And sure, even in face to face dating, you tend to put on a front till you get to know someone. But I think that it is our flaws and the quirks that make someone know the real us and like those things, I don't believe you can learn that from someone that can calculate their answers. It works with the picture above!
The third assumption, they require more to develop intimately. While it may be easy to reveal more behind the screen, that is not the only sign of intimacy. After a while, there will need to be more forms of intimacy.
You could look at this a totally different way. There is even something called hyperpersonal perspective which suggest that online relationships can become even more intimate than those that are face-to-face.
And there is no reason that couldn't be true, but you need to eventually move it to a face to face interaction. You need to see the person, get feedback, be vulnerable and not think through every move.
I would always be worried personally about warranting. A part of this theory that says, "the perceived legitimacy and validity of information about another person that one may receive or observe online".
Now, it may not always be cat-fishing situation, but when people can calculate their answers, the information doesn't always reveal itself in the way it should be.
I don't want to seem like a devils advocate, I think that all relationships are unique but as far as relationships becoming intimate, I think that we are wired to want to be with someone face to face.
But who knows?! Maybe I'll look back at this post years from now and wonder how I could think this way.