A little over 20 years ago I attempted to fill a great hole in my life by entering into a text based relationship on line. I was astounded how easily and quickly I met, fell in love, and had my heart painfully broken. This incident was the motivation for a lot of introspection and self criticism, the result of which is my theory on human textual interaction, internet relationships.
Are you a reader? Do you enjoy novels. I am currently at the end of the most recent volume of George R. R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance With Dragons. Without question, I can describe the characters, even those not yet shown in the HBO miniseries. I can hear their voices, smell the streets, hear the sounds of battle, feel the cold. I can do that because of my imagination. When I see the words, I see and feel and smell and taste from my imagination, and because it is mine, it is not the same as yours.
We human kind, we apes, have been interacting with each other for a long time, far longer than we have had words to utter, perhaps even thoughts we could express. We survived because we observed and interpreted what we experienced. Everything. What we saw, body position, movement. What we heard, breathing, voice, grunts, sighs and moans. What we smelled, Pheromones, sweat, fear. What we tasted, sweat, blood, tears. What happened when we touched.
But sitting in our chairs with our fingers on the keys, watching text come across the screen, even in direct response to what we have just “said”, we do not have those things. That doesn’t mean we don’t need them, expect them, and imagine them. The trouble is, they are coming from our imaginations, the reader, not the writer. Ours, and there is no way to get further evidence that our imaginations are correct, except by further text.
We observe what comes from our imaginations and use those observations to interpret and understand the text we see. As an actor, I have often used the exercise of saying the same sentence in five different ways, each with entirely different intent. Yet the words are the same. I just use different intonation, body position, eye movement. I use different intent. I can say, “I Love You” in ten different ways, and so my heart was broken and I was sent into deep depression.
Do I wonder why young men and women in periods of their lives when they struggle deeply to understand their position in their communities, when they search mightily to find acceptance and affection from their piers, are driven to thoughts of suicide by uncaring textual relationships? Nope, not at all, and this discussion does not even touch the possibilities that the person writing is not who they portray themselves to be.
So when you finally go and meet that love of your life and things don’t necessarily seem quite the way you expect. Do not be surprised. I am not saying relationships can’t begin this way. But I am saying that it takes understanding on both your parts, and a little bit of wariness.