Love in the Era of Social Networking

Ghazal my Dear,About a year ago we were sitting at the bone fire on the bank of the Isar river and I was badly condeming destiny for beeing so cruel to me by sending you here, the most fascinating and inspiring person I ever met, but at an too young age to get closer with somebody like me who was in his fourties already. There at the river bank, laying on the peble stones and talking open about our dreams and about science and life, you remember I told you how little I could understand your confession that – except for a school-mate – you only had boy-friends that you met at internet dating-sites. My suggestion to you, just to wait until a real brave and strong person approaches you in a coffee-bar or in the train or at the university, without going through all this cyber-dating proceedure could not convince you much, even though I argued that this short relationship that we have here in Munich (you call it friendship, for me it is a bit more)is the best example that two people can still meet each other outside the cyber-world. The fact that I simply went to you after the lectures and never hesitated to invite from then on almost every day to go out, without having ever seen your Facebook identity, this you obviously considered an exception. Maybe you saw me as a social fossil, or an immoral person who stands outside the social networks.

Zoe Margolis, writer of the blog “Girl with a one-track mind” and author of a book with the same name (under her pseudonym Abby Lee) wrote a remarkable witty and obviously experienced essay about the evolution of a relationship in the era of social networking. It shows that it is so damned easy to turn a loos exchange of some thoughts with a so-called “friend” at Facebook into a more and more privat and intimate relationship. Because it is just words, ideas, and maybe photos that are exchanged, one never has to present itself in his entire personality. The social networks are almost invented to polish a personal identity from all unwanted details. It starts with the very simple thing as a photograph on your privat page. It usually shows you at a younger age, in a very pleasant condition, sometimes after sophisticated Photoshop work. One of the obvious examples is Zoe Margolis Blog-page itself: Whereas in reality in front of a TV camera she appeares as a mature, self-confident woman, her blog autobiography shows her on a college girl style picture. I”m not trying to make any judgement here about which of the two appears more attractive (this as usually lays in the eye of the viewer), for sure the two images almost show two different characters. And as there are these huge uncertainties to find out how somebody looks in reality, if you only know him through social networks, the rest of your web identity is usually also a reflection of how you would like to be, rather than what you really are.
Zoe Margolis describes in her short essay in a very clear and pointed way how sooner or later the real person behind the web identity has to unvail itself, if the relation gets closer and closer. And a relationship goes trough a difficult, not so say catastrophic time if confronted with these torn images. How hard it is and how painful if the social network link suddenly dries out.
Zoe Margolis describes this as following:

Once upon a time, outside the social network of the Internet, you’d just shrug if someone dropped communication and accept that if they really wanted to stay in contact, they’d simply pick up the ”phone and say hello. But in the web of modern interactivity, where you get used to the regular loud chatter of the (false?) intimacy of the social network, the sudden distance and silence from someone you’ve connected with on a frequent and personal basis is –ironically – deafening.”

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