The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Digital Relationships (audience participation will lead to Part 2!)

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on October 2, 2008

As a preface I’d like say; this entry is going to be a bit more personal than my usual, but don’t worry I won’t be sobbing on anyone’s shoulder.  My personal experiences are just illustrative of a new trend in social communications as facilitated by technology.

I’m currently in what is termed “a long distance relationship”.  I started dating my current SO (significant other) in late December of last year.  I’d met him before then, had a bit of face to face and MSN contact with him, but hadn’t really spent a good deal of time with him.  We fell in love etc and then, I had to go back to school in Lethbridge while he stayed in Calgary.

The phone was once the primary method of long-distance communications.  Today, e-mail has taken over.

The phone was once the primary method of long-distance communications. Today, e-mail has taken over.

Now for many people this would have been the end of the relationship.  For others it would have been the start of higher than average phone bills as they called each other every night.  For us, nothing changed.

How you ask?  Simple!  We have what I call a “digital relationship”.

We picked up right where we left off.  Our previously spoken conversations became text messages (which we send at a rate of 50+ a day).  To us, it’s like we’re never that far apart.  Sure, we miss the physical contact associated with our relationship, but we make the best of the visits we do have.  The important thing to both of us was to keep things natural and not let the distance stop our relationship.

Now, you may be thinking “Shannon, that’s a great story, but where is this going?” and to that I say: Right here!  😛

I never personally felt that digital communication was any different than face to face.  Though I know from experience, not everyone shares my opinions.

So I pose a question to all of you (respond in the comments section please!) :  Does digital communication work for you?  In what kind of relationship does it work best for you if it does?  Why?

My answers: Digital communication is best for me, as I’m a writer by nature.  It also allows me to control my temper by re-evaluating all my messages before I send them (I stick my foot in my mouth a lot less).  I feel no difference between face-to-face communication except in situations of physical touch. The only exception is with my family; my parents and I don’t talk much face to face, so Internet communication has brought us a little closer (especially with my Mother who likes to e-mail me almost every day).  My sister isn’t a fan of computers, so I often cater to what works best to her (or like to think I do).

If you’re uncomfortable posting in the comments, e-mail me @ shannon.ogrady@uleth.ca.  This is also a bit of a get to know you exercise too on what I hope is a fairly neutral topic to most people, so hopefully everyone will feel safe opening up.

From your responses I’d like to write about how digital communication is viewed by technology savvy folk like ourselves.  I could generalize it all based on what I’ve read in sociology, anthropology and psychology textbooks but wouldn’t it be more fun to read about yourselves!

Thank you all for your time!

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7 Responses to “Digital Relationships (audience participation will lead to Part 2!)”

  1. 1forfun said

    Good post Shannon, I have to agree that the internet makes communicaating alot more versatile, but I for one am not such a fan. I think it really has alot to do with the personality of the individual. I for one have a bad habit of not responding to emails right away and then slowly forgetting. Instant messanger is continually frustration because of the lack of tone of voice and body language, also I type slow. But I still appreciate how it has in the end made my life easier.

  2. Shannon O'Grady said

    Do you believe lack of tone to be an issue inherant to the medium or is it something perhaps that can be developed over time?

  3. 1forfun said

    I think it is inherant to the medium. I use emoticons alot, but I still find that there aren’t enough to convey the facial expressions I have or the tone of my voice. Sarcasm is especially frustrating,I always have to rethink what I want to say based on how the person may misinterpret it.

  4. Shannon O'Grady said

    Interesting to note. I haven’t found that to be an issue in people reading what I write, but I have had that issue reading the writings of others. You are correct that emotions are limited in terms of facial experssions, but perhaps not in conveying moods?

    Thoughts from others?

    (Thanks for getting the ball rolling 1forFun!)

  5. veiledindiehubris said

    I think something you allude to; the fact that you can monitor your thoughts and what you say, is one of my biggest problems with the internet, even though I use the ability to do that constantly myself.

    Specifically, when interacting with new people on the internet it is easy to get a rosy picture of them due to the fact that they can reply at their own leisure, have time to think up witty things to say etc. This can also carry over into friendships or relationships maintained across distances, while emoticons are wonderful for things like tone, they are also great for faking tone (ie you can act perfectly happy in your relationship or friendship online, even though in the real world you’re upset/worried or whatever else).

    That being said, I have a lot of internet-mediated relationships; I’m just wary of the fact that the person on the other end of this beautiful series of tubes is probably as self-editing and aggrandizing as I can be given the nature of the medium.

  6. Shannon O'Grady said

    Certainly the flexibility provided by the internet and computers allows the user to easily edit their thoughts, but do you think something about the internet brings out that tendency in people? Is there something about the internet that makes us more dishonest?

  7. veiledindiehubris said

    I don’t think anything about the internet makes us dishonest, I just think that *everyone* is as dishonest as they can possibly be without getting caught (in reality, this can result in almost no dishonesty for people who are bad liars).

    The internet just makes it easier to be dishonest. Even if we aren’t talking about dishonesty with malice, it is certainly easier to conceal things.

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