Monday, May 24, 2010

Real love=Virtual love?

"Our problems with social media seem to derive from the fact that we’re inappropriately treating in-person and virtual communication as entirely different things."

So, my friend James brought up a really great point about long distance relationships in a comment on my last post, which was basically that online communication is only different from face-to-face communication because the older generation assumes so.  This article that he shared cites a recent study that found that "new information and communication technologies such as the internet and mobile phone" have not exacerbated social isolation in our society.  In fact, they discovered "the opposite trend amongst internet and mobile phone users; they have larger and more diverse core networks."

I think that we all know that social networking tools make it easier to keep in touch, but many also assume that these tools can never replace older forms of communication.  You know, this isn't necessarily true.  In the past twenty years, we have found excellent alternatives to letter-writing, traveling, blind-dating, rioting (see Audrey's blog)and isolated researching. Of course nothing will ever be able to take the place of real, face-to-face contact, but technology helps.

I also think it's interesting that, like this article says, social networking makes it easier for us to form relationships.  The study found that people as a whole have notably less people in their social circle than they did in the past.  New media is a reaction to this, not its cause.  

Now-how this ties into my thesis.  New media tools are a manifestation of the metaphysical desire to be constantly and profoundly interconnected, as proved by that study.  This doesn't mean that our relationships are less meaningful, though.  Do you think that even though Donne's metaphors have been actualized, people are still capable of romantic feelings that are equally as strong? What evidence is there of this?  



Becca "The Rock Star" Hay said...

Amanda! Ben's latest blog relates to your topic somewhat. He's looking at community of anonymous bloggers and the relationships formed within that. You are looking at pre-existing relationships, yet I gave him this article and wold like to share it with you as well. I think it applies to both anonymous and known cyber-friends because of the MEDIUM used, not the person. I could be wrong, see what you think!
It's the first option which pops up. "Digital Relations..." Really interesting article. It claims: "Relevant to the development of interpersonal relationships is the processing of social cues [8]. Research in social psychology has indicated that when
people perceive social context cues, these can trigger cognitive interpretations and related emotional states. In response to these cues, people adjust their communication depending on their subjective interpretation of the situation. When social context cues
are strongly perceived, behavior becomes more other focused and carefully managed. Conversely, when communication of these cues is weak and cues are not perceived, feelings of anonymity result in more self-centered and unregulated behavior."
It seems that digital relations create a more subjective environment. Could this be why media helps form deeper bonds. The person becomes who we think they are? I'm just posing the question...not an answer because I really don't know! = )

Heather said...

When I read what Becca said about subjective environments, I remembered an article I read for this class earlier that argued that media adds al element of anonymity to a relationship, but this actually allows a person to put more info about themselves on the line, so a greater level of trust can actually be formed in relationships with new media. I can't find the article now but I think I alread shared it with you. So I don't know if I'd say that the other person in a relationship becomes who we think they are... but maybe it just allows for a cleaner construction of identity on OUR part?

About your question on Donne... I was a little rusty on the particulars of metaphysical poets, so I looked them up. I'm sure you already knew this, but this site ( describes metaphysical poets as being able to use a"combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike". As I read that, I'm thinking, isn't it interesting that a poet who was known for his somewhat paradoxical metaphors has BECOME a metaphor in the new media debate, at least for your paper. Maybe you could use that. Like Donne expressed the human tendency to make creative comparisons. Now, we, as humans, are capable of LIVING these comparisons as we form strong relationships over a distance. It's a paradox... but we do it, and it works.

Another random thought. How do you think Donne's line "'Twere profanation of our joys/To tell the laity our love" works in with social networking? On Facebook, we change our relationship status for the whole world to see. Just wondering. Your points are really valid and super interesting.