We've all come to appreciate that the increase of technology increases the borders of the grey area. Things are no longer as simple or black and white as they were say only 20 years ago. As a 10 year old I was fascinated at seeing a simple Apple computer limited to a black screen with green text, and a blinking rectangle that seemed to prompt the typist to keep on typing.
The introduction of the internet did not just open up the world to endless opportunities, but also endless ethical challenges that never use to exist. There are no marshals to patrol and set the World Wild West into order.
These ethical challenges even challenge the very fabric of our existence, which is relationships. Relationships are essential, not one person can live without them.The health of relationships rely heavily upon communication. As communication is the key to sharing whats in the heart and mind of one to the heart and mind of the other.
Most professionals have identified the following five levels of communication in sequential order:
1. Acquantance: This is where we use cliche's like "hows it going?", "hi, thanks" answering the person with "good" when all they said was "Hi". This is habitual and more of a knee-jerk reaction than a thought out process of thinking.
2, Facts: where the individual will share facts, and moves on from the cliche to small talk. "Hot today isn't it?". Usually we say these to remove awkward silence or for the lads, trying to make a move on a girl. "Nice clear sky today"......"Oh look that bus is full". No real in depth thought needed at this level either.
3. Opinions: this is where the wall (not a Facebook wall) between two individuals starts getting chipped away at. The individual will start sharing their opinion on the management of the club, their personal goals and desires, Things they're concerned about etc. Obviously if two people have opposing opinions, this level is where the relationship is first challenged. "I like it when the weather is hot, we can go swimming"
4. Feelings: If the relationship survived the previous level then you would feel safe to reveal deep emotions about things, people and situations. "When it gets hot it makes me happy because it reminds me of Samoa!"
5. Intimacy: The level at no holds barred. This is the deepest level of a relationship where the individual feels safe enough to reveal their unique needs. It takes skill to interpret these statements as most of us are too proud to begin a sentence with "I need.....". An individual may say "You don't care anyway" is a bait, that they need to be affirmed and that the other individual does care by saying and putting to action"But I do care about you".
The problem with Facebook, Social networking (in general), and online relationships, is that people are cheated of the first three levels and stages of a relationship. Quite often you see in peoples status' that they share deeply felt emotions or even an intimate need but the other 3 levels have been skipped.
It's a shame that a lot of the younger generation are falling privy to this, and as a result they lack communication skills in reality as the first three levels are the warm ups, for the actual real excercise.
I've heard of a lot of online relationship stories ranging from awful failures to sensuous successes. However, when it comes to meeting your life partner, or dating in that regard, I'm an old-timer and believe that the safest and surest say to know somebody is by moving through the succession of the five levels mentioned above.
In my books relationships are null and void without experiencing low and high times together, hugging and holding hands, running and tripping over each other on the beach, watching the facial muscles move in discussions, and observing from afar as they mingle among the crowd or with individuals.....or when they're just by themselves are all part and parcel of a strong relationship.
If you're involved in an online relationship right this minute. I suggest you make a deadline, no longer than 6 months to meet this person, and alleviate any anxieties that you may currently have. Then after you part ways it's no longer an online relationship, rather a long-distance relationship (a whole different topic altogther). And if you're in love with the concept of being in love......then cut all ties immediately.
So in conclusion, I recommend staying with the old offline relationship.