Friday, October 14, 2016

Utlimately, Face-to-Face Is Superior to Facebook and Texting

Do not try to resolve conflicts via texting, Facebook, or email. Face-to face is better. 

The Internet is a wonderful tool for research, discovery, and communication. It is, however, a profoundly inferior tool for relationship building.

Here are some reasons why.
An Internet relationship with someone is devoid of nonverbal cues. We can't "read" a person the way we do when we are physically with them. We gain an enormous amount of information about someone when in their presence, observing their face, hearing their tone of voice, the little laugh they give when they finished that phrase, and so on. The following textual clues don't come close to sufficing - :); LOL; *sigh; etc. Yes, there are many emojis to choose from, but an emoji remains inferior to a face-to-face emotion. The bazillion metamessages that are there when face to face are missing on Facebook, chat rooms, e-mail, etc.

In Internet communication it is easy to misinterpret meaning. It's hard enough when face to face; non-physical communication compounds the difficulties multifold. It becomes the equivalent of trying to interpret ancient manuscripts. (When they wrote this and added these three emojis do you think they meant...   ???)

An Internet-only relationship allows people to create a fantasy self. For example, I knew of a local chat-room "philosopher" who refused to meet face to face with his interlocutors, who saw him as "brilliant" based on his emojis. He once challenged me in his chat room. I responded by sending him an emoji (not really), and then writing, "Let's get together, face to face, and discuss." He refused, because that would blow his cover.

There's a lot of persona-creating in Internet relationships. On the Internet you can tell people whatever you want and people have no way of telling whether or not you are speaking the truth. For example - I tell someone "My name is John, but people call me 'Lebron' because I'm 6'8" and an intimidating force on the basketball court," but in reality I am barely 5'10", barely made my high school b-ball team (in the 11th grade only), and am 67 years old. (That's true, but how would you know?)

In cyber-meetings we control what we want other people to know. For example, here's a photo of me, taken yesterday, in my office at church - note the books behind me, to include one I have written:

In physical, real-world relationships, we have many cues and tools to help us distinguish whether a person is being honest or not. The Internet takes these away from us; in cyber-relationships these tools are not at our disposal. We are handicapped in making good judgments about people.
Internet relationships are not truly intimate. I like the idea of "intimacy" as, "Into me, see." That cannot happen on the Internet. True intimacy is cultivated over much time and space and intepersonal real-world contact. Obviously. An "Internet marriage" would be absurd and dissatisfying. There canot be true intimacy without physical connection.
Ending cyber-relationships is easy. One simply clicks the "unfriend" button. The ease with which this is done signifies the shallowness of the net-relationship. Internet relationships require no responsibility. Click the mouse, and it's over.