Can the Internet Produce Better Relationships?

1 Apr

As internet communication becomes a greater part of everyday living for more and more people the question is presented, “Are Online Relationships Better than Real Life Relationships?” While it may be very difficult if not impossible to measure the value of a relationship many hints can be found to help us. The biggest measure has to do with the way people feel about their relationships. After all, it is all about perception isn’t it?

There are two main premises for the idea that the internet may be creating better relationships among people than real life socializing alone has done in the past. One theory has to do with introversion, the other with relate-ability and population size. The reality is that both factors probably play a big part in the perception that relationships online are becoming more meaningful than those in real life to many people.

The idea of introverted and extroverted personalities has been made its way from psychology texts to mainstream vocabulary over the past 30 years. Its widely accepted that while introversion may be a great tool for genius creatives or studious academics, extroverted personalities are generally more valued in our business centered society. From the first list-serves to the boom of twitter internet communications have allowed introverts the ability to interact in a more comfortable environment. Relationships can be filtered to find potential friends with common interests, communications can be thought out and drafted in advance and judgement are made son the quality of content rather than external factors of any sort.

The vastness of the internet provides an almost endless number of people to connect with. For individuals that have a trait which separates them from everyone around them this vastness provides the opportunity to meet similar people. NPR recently ran a story about the role that internet communities are playing in the lives of people seeking social support for medical issues. I personally found sites like babycenter.com very helpful for feeling secure about the many many questions that come along with pregnancy.

While a very good case can be made for the quality and value of online relationships, other’s of course would argue that the internet and social media communications are decreasing the value of real life relationships. Its a wonderful thing to have ease of communication (via facebook, etc…) with family that is far away but does it damage the closeness of a relationship when you send pics online to local family rather than stopping by for a 15minute visit?

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