What is Real?

In an age when the vast wealth of the internet can be put in a pocket; how do we know, what we know? Definitions change and evolve, cultures meld together, and people reach out from all over to grasp those once beyond reach. The world is closer than ever before, and yet trust is a rare thing still. It is hard to believe in what is found online. Many people start of trusting everything, and soon find out that the internet holds more pitfalls then real life at times; or so they think. So how can we trust in what we find, what we hear, or what we begin to feel for those online?

Lately and for years I have considered those same questions. I believe it should be only natural to mistrust those things discovered online. Because you cannot see them or feel them. It should also be natural to resist giving out too much information. But when dealing with people those instincts have to be altered. Though I believe those alterations should be made slowly. Because you never know who will scam you, or if the person you are speaking to is not what they appear to be.

Many of us make connections online, meeting friends and lovers. Some of these connections can be lasting, while others will be volatile. But is any of that different than those we meet in real life? I do not believe so. Can someone hide themselves online? Yes they can. Can someone hide themselves in person? Yes they can. Now what is the difference? I supposed for those men that pretend to be women, or women that pretend to be men; there can be a difference. Age can also be hidden, and looks as well. But those are the only true things that cannot be completely hidden in person. So I ask again, what is the difference?

I have meet in person dozens of people from the internet. Women I have dated (for one night or many), men to befriend, role playing groups, books clubs, pen pals, and world travelers. It at some point becomes quiet natural to stop thinking of people as just data, and see them as real individuals. There is a sort of trust that has to develop over time, you start to compare things the person says over different conversations. If an inconsistency develops, then that person loses the trust you put in them. If no such cracks appear in their stories, then they are rewarded with more. But that essentially is the same as a relationship in person. Many have gone weeks or months dating a person in the flesh to later find out that those people were not who they thought they were; and even some in the extreme had hid themselves for years upon years. So why would we see a person who we only know online as something so foreign to us?

A question was posed to me, somewhat recently; but not for the first time. How can you have feelings for someone you have not meet?

You see I have a girlfriend whom I have yet to meet. We have known each other in a loose sense for over a decade, during that time we have had casual conversation, even some flirting. We meet on a text based game, and have never grown beyond that game, or even continued conversation past the day we talked… in the past. At least not that I know about. But somewhere around a year and a half ago, we began to talk. The conversation just flowed, and things just clicked together. A friendship was born or matured, and I believe we both eagerly sought out the other to talk with. But as time lengthened in our friendship, we began to grow closer, and to open to each other. So to make this story short eventually we took to step to say that we were together; as a couple, committed to one another. I still have graduate school to finish, and she still lives thousands of miles away; but we plan to meet more than a few times before I finish grad school and I plan to look for an internship close to her during the summer to see what this relationship can truly become. I have hope (wakta).

So how can I have feelings for someone I have yet to meet? That is a simple question to answer, and I would answer it the same way if she was someone I only knew in person and not online. Quite simple, because we have shared with each other. Shared our likes and dislikes, shared out lives and pasts, shared our demons, shared our secrets, shared our hopes and dreams; simply we have opened to each other, first slowly and then more profoundly. Now is not that how I would grow to feel something for another person or do you believe that I need to touch her to feel something for her? I would argue most vividly against that type of rationale.

To trust, is to leave oneself vulnerable. Without it we are alone in the world. I have been there and I hated it. With it we open ourselves to the possibility of pain and regret. I have been there too, and I hated it. So which path is the easier one, and which is the hard? I think in this, the first denies you a real life and the possibility of future happiness. While the second if broken can be worse, but that pain will heal with time and the chances we take in giving out trust are worth the risk. Such as close relationships with friends, family, and lovers. Those things bring real happiness into our lives, and make our years’ worth living. So treat all people the same, or you might lose the chance to fill your life in a small way, or perhaps in a huge way.