Friday night topic: When online relationships enter the real world

The eighth edition of the renowned TR BBQ goes down this weekend in Holland, Michigan. Fresh from a smaller meetup in Kansas City last night, our own Scott Wasson and Adam Eiberger are making their way to Holland with a bunch of swag for the BBQ attendees.

Finally meeting people in the real world after first encountering them online can be a little weird, especially if you’ve developed a relationship with someone in the virtual realm before finally seeing them in the flesh. Sometimes, things work out. Other times, well, they don’t—and that applies not just to personal relationships, but also to professional ones.

In the age of social networking, it seems increasingly likely that folks will have their first interactions online before meeting in the real world. Is that a good thing? Have you had any particularly memorable experiences one way or another? Discuss.

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    • Aquineas
    • 8 years ago

    I met my wife online; best relationship I’ve ever had, by a lot. I’ve had good and catastrophically bad relationships that originated both online and in first person. Your mileage may vary.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 8 years ago

    When online relationships enter the real world…you realize just how deceiving their pictures were.

    • Cyril
    • 8 years ago

    I met Scott for the first time at CES 2011, after working for him for nearly five years.

    Does that count? 🙂

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      Yea, i’ve been working here for 3 years, and we’ve still never met.

    • KeillRandor
    • 8 years ago

    Well, I met my ex-fiance online first (just a random message from her on msnmgr started it off). I was in Loughborough (UK) and she was in Leeds. We got on really well at first, and I ended up moving up there, (when we got engaged), after about a year, but that was when the economy crashed, and she dumped me because I found it too hard to get a job at the time – (she was working).

    I was a bit peeved that she’d been seeing someone else for 6 months before she broke up with me – (though I had my suspicions) – but after I moved back down to Leicester to stay with my sister, I then found out that although she’d married the person she’d been seeing behind my back, he’d divorced her when she got fired from her job.

    What comes around goes around, I guess? Lol.

    I do miss Leeds though 🙁

    • no51
    • 8 years ago

    I think so far I’ve met maybe 9 I knew from online first, probably more if you want to get technical (friends of online friends? who you also know?) Mostly from gaming communities. A couple of them were for romantic reasons which didn’t flesh out.

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 8 years ago

    It’s weird the first time. We can have great rapport online, but it’s just awkward until we get comfortable with each other. Once we get comfortable things go better.

    This could just be me. I analyze what people are doing, and it effects how I interact with them. Plus I can be kind of an ass in real life, so I try not to do that when i first meet people. This could be better now, but I haven’t made any online friends in a while.

      • Kharnellius
      • 8 years ago

      Haha, same on all accounts…brother is that…you?

    • ShadowTiger
    • 8 years ago

    Usually I find that other people are online-only or offline-only… I haven’t met anyone who mixes both worlds in a social manner.

    its nice to have a BBQ once a year… but why not have a google hangout every week? Then people who don’t live in the area can attend as well.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      what’s a “google hangout”? is that a new thing? it’s tough enough finding you tards on steam.

      • mutarasector
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Usually I find that other people are online-only or offline-only... I haven't met anyone who mixes both worlds in a social manner.[/quote<] I've been seeing the two social spheres mix frequently as far back as my days of being an assistant sysop on the old GEnie (General Electric News & Info Exchange) online service. Deb Christensen, the chief sysop of the *Starship* Amiga Roundtable used have frequent get togethers for Amiga users around the country as well as GEnie subscribers and GEnie staff at the various computer shows (back when there was one every month). We had had quite a few parties after the exhibit/showfloors closed back in the 'decadent 80's'. 🙂 I remember one particular FOSE show in D.C. that... well, er...never mind. I think the statute of limitations may not have run out on that one yet. 🙂

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    I met someone I had talked to for years and had never seen a picture of or knew anything about physically a while ago. I found it really strange to actually have a face going along with the voice.

    • I.S.T.
    • 8 years ago

    I used to know a woman who met her husband when she was 14 on Deviant Art(Before it became a fetishist’s paradise).

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    Has happened to me in professional life certainly but not yet in personal one.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve had quite a bit of experience online. Over four years I’ve played WoW, I only actually played the game for the first six months. After this I generally spent most of my time socializing and talking with other people online, not just to meet a female aquaintance, as most guys do, but also meet other people.

    People generally online like to play pretend, males and females. The term ‘pixels’ comes to mind. Where people disassociate what they see on the screen with what happens in real life, this affects a lot of different things. Hell, you can see this sort of trend on Facebook, especially when someone gets fired for something inappropriate on it. How and why this happens is easy. Even though it seems quite logical that there is an actual person behind a name online, most people don’t believe. Normally people figure out how to act from those around them, but since there is relatively little around them in real life that actually relates to anything online, they can’t gauge their impacts online. This leads to completely socially awkward situations that would’ve not normally taken place in real life.

    A more common scenario of this is trolls which have been popping up more and more the last few years, they even have a backing now. Where people have absolutely zero respect, understanding, empathy, or common courtesy for others and treat them as if they quite literally are ‘pixels’. A lot of things play into how and why something like that happens including the inability to be punished for such actions and social recourse online.

    Now putting this all aside, what I mentioned earlier about people liking to pretend. In psychology there is a ‘perceived self’ and ‘actual self’. Basically one is how we want to be and the other is how we actually are. Generally speaking, for most people these two do not mesh, some are more extravagant then others, but when you remove everything that has any sort of framework from peoples lives and plop them online, their perceived self comes completely into play as there is relatively nothing to correct it and they don’t care how they act as there is no threat of being ostracized.

    Basically people can say whatever they want and they think it really doesn’t matter. Of course more intelligent people know this is simply not true (usually), as do people who work in and out of the internet regularly (professionally). But for the common user, who they are in real life is probably absolutely nothing like what they’re like online.

    Personally I realized this at a early age and tried to make sure who I am online is quite similar to what I am in real life. Not because it really matters that much, but because if I want to be something different in real life (percieved self) then I should figure out how and why that is and change myself to something that is more in line with who I really am (or think I am).

    As far as memorable experiences goes… I’ve talked to a lot of of women online (actual women) and lets just say I’m still single. People like to play pretend a lot… even when they’re married, have kids, their open ended b/f is actually their fiance, they try to be something they’re not because its what you want (although that happens in real life)… Just being online is like a license to lie. Call me bitter if you want, but the few relationships I know of that started online usually don’t last long in real life.

    Thinking more positively, I believe the more integrated the internet becomes with society (and it will integrate), the less and less we’ll see a division between people online and in real life. Especially with newer generations being raised with their parents having been part of the internet generation.

      • stevek
      • 8 years ago

      “In psychology there is a ‘perceived self’ and ‘actual self’.”

      ur an idiot

        • Kharnellius
        • 8 years ago

        You’ve never heard of lying to yourself?

    • Vulk
    • 8 years ago

    I met my wife online playing WoW. I lived in Washington, she lived in Arizona. We met in real life after a year of flirting in game, then talking on the phone every night for hours at a time for months. She moved in six months after we met, and we got married a year later. After three years, I couldn’t be happier.

    Her opinion, and I can’t help but agree, is that if we’d met in real life without knowing each other online and from the phone first, we never would have chosen each other. Which goes to show you how bad your hormones are at picking a long term mate.

      • someuid
      • 8 years ago

      Yes yes yes, that’s all very nice and such. The big question is….do you still play WoW together? 🙂

        • Vulk
        • 8 years ago

        Having a 10 month old kind of put a crimp on raid night.

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      Yup… why I generally stick to meeting females online. A lot more goes into getting to know someone online then in real life. In life is heavily based around social schemas, physical appearance, tone and gestures, that you lose a lot of the really meaningful information in the process.

      If you look at how much people generally talk in real life, the amount of communication that exists online simply does not exist.

      • cegras
      • 8 years ago

      Neat. I argue that relationships are both physical and mental.

      What drew you to her in the first place? Serious question – was it the sexy avatar?

      • Mr Bill
      • 8 years ago

      That was a good description of how my nephew and his girlfriend met and I think eventually they will marry. My oldest friend from high school married a girl with whom we used to play D&D together. Role playing games are good communication. You are the character, you are the metacharacter commenting on your own in game behavior. Its very revealing.

    • someuid
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve had this happen several times due to work – communicate with some folks for years before meeting them face to face.

    In every instance, they were completely different from what I had envisioned.

    In all but two cases, our relationships stayed solid and it was good to have met face-to-face.

    In one case, we just drifted apart.

    In the other case, it was disaster and we never worked or spoke to each other again.

    It has also gone the other way. I’ve worked with some people remotely and despised them due to how they wrote in email. But once I met them in person, I found I had a lot in common and became really good friends even after our jobs took us different directions. Meeting them put their written words into perspective.

    So, out of a dozen or so situtations, only 1 went nowhere and 1 went sour. Pretty good I guess.

    • bthylafh
    • 8 years ago

    It’s easier for us socially-awkward types to get to know people online first, I think, especially in a delayed medium like a forum or Usenet.

    ‘Tis how I met my wife, and I had a /lot/ less social anxiety this way than if I’d met her e.g. in a class.

    • Meadows
    • 8 years ago

    Getting to know people online is better, because you have more time and better opportunities to chisel your first impression to perfection. That’s the most important one, anyway. In real life, you’re judged before you open your mouth.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      SOMEBODY NEEDS A HUG

      seriously though, I do on occasion go to soulpancake.com, and a woman on the site liked some of my opinions, so she called me at home. I don’t know how, but she did. and then at work. i had to shut that bad girl down asap. it was all cool in the end, and she was a cool dude, but it freaked me out for a minute.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        I normally get plenty, keep them for your wife’s horse(s).

      • someuid
      • 8 years ago

      I’d suggest a phone call or two. There is a lot you can learn about a person from inflections in their voice that you don’t pick up via the written word.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        I’m not a phone person, I never know what to say, and I’m shy with my voice. Unless it’s a family member I’ve known for decades. Phone is a last resort.

          • bthylafh
          • 8 years ago

          I would never have guessed that you of all people are socially awkward.

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            It’s just with phones. I have no issues in person, and I have no issues in text. Just phones.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            I’m not socially awkward at all. i’m usually the life of the party, and was the “cool guy” in highschool. I know you probably think i’m being silly, but this is actually true. I get it from my old man. he’s a super social dude, talks to everyone, and us kids just got it from him. I’ll call, text, email, face to face, cyber, it doesn’t matter. i’m down with it all. my wife HATES answering machines, and refuses to leave messages, but it’s cause she’s insane. i secretly drug her.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 8 years ago

          I hate phones. Just the sound of a ring makes me anxious.

            • Kharnellius
            • 8 years ago

            Used to be the same way, then I got a job on the phones. Gotta face those fears man. 🙂

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            I *have* a job on the phones. Makes no difference. I’m cold and professional with clients, and struggle to end a sentence with people I actually care about.

          • Glix
          • 8 years ago

          +1 it’s a horrible feeling, makes me pace the room.

      • DancinJack
      • 8 years ago

      +1 for Meadows for real. Good answer.

      • VILLAIN_xx
      • 8 years ago

      Would you ever meet Krogoth offline?

        • bthylafh
        • 8 years ago

        Those two would go at it like monkeys. Or rabbits.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        No, the police would take me away promptly.

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT. KROGS IS SIMPLY TOO SEXY TO RESIST. IT’S SCIENCE.

            • no51
            • 8 years ago

            I don’t know why, but when I think of Krogoth I think of Richard Stallman; but when I think of Meadows, I think of Felicia Day.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 8 years ago

            “Love your hair.”
            [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlq20E3SOVQ[/url<] P.S.: And this, too: [url<]http://www.gamespot.com/users/CommandZer01/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25669598&tag=all-about%3Bblog2[/url<]

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            meadows is a hot babe. As for krogs, he may or may not be. you’ll likely ever know…

            luckily i know all the secrets of my team…

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            [citation needed]

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            Nonsense. Also, if it’s any insight into his social capabilities, he never responded to this topic post anywhere.

            • Krogoth
            • 8 years ago

            [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyzyOnOh9A8[/url<]

            • TaBoVilla
            • 8 years ago

            lol

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