On 21st Century Relationships: Connectivity at the Cost of Face-to-Face Interactions

Posted on December 4, 2010 in Love, Relationship and Beyond

By Tong Niu:

We live in a faceless world. Interviews are conducted virtually, classes are taught online, and conversations are held through short phone calls and 180 character texts. Outside of our immediate circle of friends and family, most of our relationships are built upon virtual interactions. The development of social networks and online worlds has drastically altered 21st century relationships. The impacts of these developments are both beneficial and detrimental.

A major revolution has occurred in the academic setting. Now more than ever, colleges and universities are offering online degrees. The University of Phoenix, the largest online school in the U.S., caters to over 380,000 students, according to the November 20, 2010 article in The Daily Sentinel. The second largest university in the U.S. has over 70,000 online students. Earning accredited degrees online allows you to take courses at a schedule that best fits your lifestyle as well as earn a higher education for work advancement opportunities. Unfortunately, while you are in control of the pace at which you learn, you lose that valuable connection and relationship with fellow students and professors. Learning from home also increases the chances of distractions and disturbances.

An even greater change has overtaken the dating scene. With thousands of online dating sites, it seems easier than ever to find the right partner. Matchmaker.com has approximately 8 million users, employing a comprehensive questionnaire and an optional essay to pair up its members, according to The Free Online Library. While many have found their soulmates on these sites, online dating also has its dangers. Just this June, Venkata Cattamanchi, a 35-year-old, was robbed and murdered by an arranged online date and her three accomplices, according to the Detroit Local News. Sadly, these horror stories are growing more widespread with an increase in the use of social networking and dating sites.

Lastly, there are the virtual relationships in the workplace. In June of 2003, Linden Lab developed and launched a program which allowed users to interact with others in 3D, virtual world. IBM and other companies have begun using this program to set up conferences with partnering groups. To save airfare and travel expenses, employees now meet with each other virtually. The program allows workers to work from home more often. It can also save companies considerable amounts in travel expenses. However, without that face-to-face interaction, workers cannot develop the social skills, like teamwork and good communication techniques, that are so important in the workplace.

The ever expanding online world helps us connect to our friends and family who are far away. Social networks, like Facebook and MySpace, allow users to maintain contact with ex-co-workers and old friends. It provides users with the ability to meet people who are continents away without ever having to leave one’s room. But these tools should not be used without thought to some of the consequences. Virtual world pulls users away from the real world. Social networks, online universities, and even online matchmaking sites are invaluable tools when maintaining long-distance relationships, but they must be used with care. If we are not mindful of the hours we spend on virtual relationships, we can potentially damage those even more important, our real-life relationships.

Image courtesy: http://cultureandcommunication.org/tdm/nmrs/fa2/2010/11/08/online-dating-the-best-39-95-i-ever-spent-draft/

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  • sharma

    idea for healthy relation , n promotion of the same


    hi , hello to all,

    well i m here to say something different, as in todays modernisaion world, the word love is no more , n taking the form of relationhip , a new kind of affair, where guy spend sometime with girl, do fun,left them sometime by making them pregnant, n refuse for marriage , by giving caste, religion, money, n other social /personal/financial relation, n left for other next opportunity , giving whole life pain to one soul, n idea of comparison in new lifepartner, n further with poor consequences/failure /divorce of relation , n making life in state of depression n regret , n with unbearable pain, n similarly with girls , now a days girls re more advanced s per to boys in advanced city /metro city with fastpace lifestyle more influnced with western culture , having a boyfrn is neccessity , n spending sometime, n making intimacy for the time being , n then breaking the relation with by not picking fon, not replying, changing numbers , n other avoiding activities , putting mostly sensitive/emotionla, n in true love guys into the state of depression, n in one of the mos unacceptable condition the SUICIDE, killing theselves , after feeling they cant live without their love , or turning them into criminal, leading to shootout, in girls marriage, cases of vitriolage, rape in state of anger, murder , molestation, n disfigurement of grls,with leaving them not for anyone , by idea , if not for me , not for anyone , so in this way we have seen if anyone turns cunning , consequnces are always bad,

    so lets improve this again , by putting idea, in any relation if there is any intimacy between, girl/boy in relation n any of the partner who uses n exploit others n just fullfill his/her need , they should not allowed to do so, , n they are bound to marry , n it is to be applicable for both , no relation for any other partner , irrespective of political/financial/social/threatening pressure from both sides, under the idea maintain relation /maintain dignity of word relation/love /care n bound to be a gud couple, n to accept each other with negative/positive points, each n everyone should respect, the wonderful creature of nature the LIFE , n accept his policy of LOVE TO BE TOGETHER FOR EACH OTHER ALWAYS FOREVER WITH LOVE/CARE

    Shreya Ramachandran

    This is so true. I especially agree with your view that online education has detrimental effects. Part of the learning experience is the classroom dynamic, the nuances of hearing a professor speak, and interaction with classmates. These are the factors which make learning wholesome – otherwise, one could just read from a textbook and learn. It is the human factor that truly completes the experience.


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