Author: Sam (---.dsl.irvnca.pacbell.net)
Date: 06-05-06 21:09
This will be absolutely my last visit on this thread, but I did have some thoughts on your post and it is time I expressed them. I agree with you that the internet changes the manner in which people interact. It is like a masquerade: a mask allows people a certain kind of liberation from some basic social constraints and so they behave differently. I think internet is more likely to do so.
Not everyone is as affected by the anonymity that internet offers; I have little doubt for example if we met Tony or Elena we would find most of the same person we have seen in their posts. But there are many who take on a new face over the internet. I have noted that those with pressing emotional hang-ups and pent up social needs are more likely to project the darker, deeper elements within themselves in this medium full of people they know they do not have to meet. They find an outlet in this medium and give expression to those pent-up frustrations and needs. You read Olga’s posts and you get a sense of such deeply rooted fears, scars, and old resentments. I have little doubt that if we were to meet her face to face, she would be a friendly person with some qualities to like. Yet, over the internet, the anonymity brings out what is usually repressed: a photo and a few bits of statistics is the only real and tangible exposure of the social self; the balance is mostly rooted in what the social circles do not see: the lonely, frustrated needy self that cannot afford to come out elsewhere.
The internet offers another outlet to another group: those who lack self-esteem tend to project what they wish they were in real life or want others to think of them: and so there we get the loners and socially reclusive folks who project the lovable, fun and interesting person they are not, hoping that the romantic episodes they create over the internet fill some of the emptiness in their social life or their self esteem. A Russian lady who is my friend and works at a marriage agency commented on this to me: the unusual number of men from the States, Canada, and Scandinavian countries who are chronic internet lovers, spawning several romantic affairs over the this medium at times simultaneously. I told her I would not be surprised if she would never meet these men, and she confirmed that in fact they almost never show up!
The most common problem in internet contact, however, is a more innocent one. Letters are devoid or all other sensory inputs that we have when we actually meet someone. The absence of all the sensory information itself is a problem; but what in my opinion is more of a problem is what we substitute for what is missing. A letter arrives, we read it, and we try to imagine the context for the words on the paper; our needs and desires compel us to make these words more tangible and more real, and so we invent a voice, a nature, and a soul responsible for the words that more often represent another person’s projected hopes and dreams. Two people continue to write, feeding each other’s hunger for a special person. In time they become more a perfect fit into the empty space in each other’s lives than anyone else who actually occupied it before! When we meet this person, there will be a sharp contrast between what our unchecked desires invented and the one we meet. That is why in my opinion, it is wrong to write highly personal, emotional and romantic letters to those we have not met. Letters are really useful for introduction before a planned visit, not as means of establishing a concrete choice of the other person based what this person wrote. Internet dating is named incorrectly; it should be internet meeting, not dating!
The last thing I want to say on this matter is the nature of writing to Slavic women. They approach internet contact very differently than our women do. The Slavic women are raised with less emphasis on individuality and more on conformity. I mentioned this once before: they like to please men with what they wear, how they look and what they say. This is not by way of deceit or necessarily by way of seduction; this is simply their nature. Where as our women want to assert themselves and show their rightful place in the union from the start, the Slavic women want to show they are a natural fit: to them the ability to blend in, endure, compromise, give and retain hope is feminine virtue. They are very good at it and they do this a lot in the beginning. Only after real contact begins do you see signs of the balance of the real person; and only when you are in relations do you really get to meet the other person completely. A very common saying in Russian is that a woman has many secrets! These secrets are usually not ominous, but they are well-guarded until relations have begun. This in itself makes what is said in internet exchanges as too benign to be the bases of serious decisions or plans. Imagine all the niceties even a lonely man is able to write and feed to a pretty face he sees on the computer screen. Then multiply those universal “niceties” by this Slavic tendency to please the writer of those words, then multiply it by the fact that she knows it is a long, costly trip and you will not come unless there is desire and faith. This math alone shows you why the content of the interaction is bound to be more fiction than reality. No one is to blame; it is the nature of it.
And so, once you add the variables above to cultural differences and language barrier you begin to see how unlikely we are to find in this method someone with whom we may share a future. I too made the error of creating “relations” over the internet, with a mixture of letters and phone calls. The fact remains that not a single one of the eventual meetings were anywhere near what I had construed in my head; nor could I overcome the ensuing disappointment which at times had even legitimate reasons in view of the new discoveries. The more I did this, the more I realized the senseless nature of prolonged internet contact. I improved my methods by using internet as simply a tool for introduction. My two best successes, including the current one leading to a fiancé visa, really emerged from purchasing contact information and calling to request a meeting.
These are my thoughts on internet contacts; I know I diverged a little into slightly different subject; but I thought I may also offer something of value to those newcomers who place genuine hope into a powerful, but faceless and sometimes disingenuous medium of Internet.