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Romancing the Net

by

Alice C. Bateman

The Internet. A marvel of modern technology. A business tool, entertainment at the click of a link, and a communications device that serves to connect us to friends, family and acquaintances all over the world.

Have you found yourself getting to know people that you would never have ordinarily met in your lifetime without this tool? I certainly have, and so have millions of others. I use a personal communications program called ICQ {from the words I Seek You}, which allows people from anywhere in the world to talk to each other in real time. Itís wonderful, and if youíve never used it, Iíd certainly recommend it. You can use it to send photos, files, websites that youíd like the other person to see, greeting cards, or just to talk, through messages or on a chat screen.

When I first began to meet new friends through this machine, I was amazed at how very real the feelings of friendship can become, considering that Iím talking to people Iíve never met in person, or in real life {IRL} as some put it. Although there is a very strong tendency to consider this machine and the Internet outside the realm of real life, these feelings of friendship toward others are very real.

Perhaps we should consider this machine and its technological capabilities simply a new aspect of real life, and not isolate it as something unreal and apart. Our children will grow up accepting this as an integral part of their lives, as if itís always been there. My three-year-old can navigate incredibly well for someone who canít yet read the menus. {He doesnít use ICQ yet of course, but he probably will be within the next couple of years.}

And beyond friendship, much deeper feelings can grow through this communications device. There have been many newspaper and magazine articles about people whoíve met through the Internet, and love has blossomed between them. Three of my own friends are right now very happily involved in a romance with men they have met online. One has moved to Florida to live with her man, and couldnít be happier.

I myself am very much anticipating meeting in person a man that I met online, introduced through a mutual friend, a couple of months ago. We are to meet soon, to see if these feelings that have grown between us are Ďrealí when we meet face to face. Speaking for myself, if they get much more real, I donít know how Iíll be able to wait until we can finally be togetherÖ

Fortunately for both of us, we are both unattached, and we live in the same country, although far apart. Two of my girlfriends have fallen for men half a world away, but the strength of the love between them has already brought one of the couples together in person, and the other will be joined in a few days.

All this canít help but make me wonder if the first person who sat down and worked out how they could devise this vast worldwide net that we are now in had any idea what they were starting. And if they did, I hope that they are getting a great deal of personal satisfaction from the fact that they have made so very many people so very happy.

If you or someone you know becomes involved in a romance of this nature, keep an open mind and an open heart. Of course there are going to be Ďhorror stories,í but arenít there just as many of those IRL? Just think, if you break up with a man or woman you met online, at least you wonít have to worry about running into them on the street, or decide how to divide up the friends and the household.

Enjoy romance wherever you find it! Life is too short to shoot the messenger.

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