Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: dating
Monday, 07 July 2014 00:00

Internet as Body Focus Response: Has technology changed the way we date?

When I first started to toss around the idea of exploring the stories of the gay male community in Taipei I'll admit I was a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I was attempting to narrate. How could I tell the varied and diverse stories of these men living, working, and loving in such a large city and focus the narrative enough to make something of the multitude of anecdotes I was hearing? Trying to weave together a thoughtful, honest, and accurate portrait of such a large, diverse community while doing justice all points of view within the group seemed almost too large of a task to take on within a single piece and threatened to kill the project before it even started.

Friday, 21 October 2011 16:06

Would Like to Meet Online

By Yoshi (34 / Male / Vagrant), edited by Raining Be, translated from the original Chinese by Conor Stuart, artwork by Arvid Torres

I have had two experiences of love online. The first was in 2001, just before I graduated from university, I met a girl online. I saw a message she had left on a BBS forum, and thought she seemed interesting, so I made an effort to befriend her. We exchanged messages online, and talked on the phone for about 3 months, and we agreed that we were officially dating. At that time she was studying in Texas, I even went there to visit her. The second time also began on a BBS forum, the girl was a friend of a friend. We kept in touch using Skype, although she refused to show me what she looked like (maybe she thought she wasn't pretty enough), I didn't really care about it at the time, as I think someone's character is the most important thing. This state of affairs continued for quite a while, in the meantime I had gone to study in Britain, until I returned to Taiwan and finally got to meet her.

Although both these online love affairs eventually fizzled out, the experience was not so different from other dating experiences, the feelings were all for real, in the end we still met in person, and there was proper interaction in both cases. These experiences made me realize that the online world and the real world are not parallel to each other, the internet is still just a part of the real world, it is not another dimension. The reason online love is not actually as unreal as one might think is that there are forms of intimate interaction with the internet, like phone sex for example. Phone sex is pretty interesting; it is really just two people getting off by themselves. I think that there is a link between the experience of phone sex and that of real sex, the difference is quantitative not qualitative. What I mean by quantitative is that phone sex relies only on stimulating someone with only their sense of hearing, it is not like real sex where all 5 senses are stimulated, but you are still interacting with the person, so there's no difference in the quality of the experience. It is like the difference between holding hands, kissing, and sex, they are contiguous, there's no defined boundary. In reality, phone sex is more intimate than holding hands, in my experience.

According to research into social psychology, it is easy for people to lose their inhibitions when using the internet, which means that when you are separated from other people by a computer screen, without the physicality of distance, people often feel more confident and secure. An example of this would be people who normally feel or react in an inhibited way, being able to talk to strangers about their private lives. So it is very common for people's speech and behaviour to be very different online compared to the real world.

This difference in mentality is very interesting when it comes to love, if ordinary dating is physical proximity, online these stages can be skipped, hence unique phenomena like phone sex can occur. It's like hitting a proverbial home run, without any actual physical contact. Perhaps, because I'm not so much about materiality when it comes to these things, it was easier for me to adapt. It's not enough, of course, but it allows people to reach a level of intimacy that other people only attain after several months or even several years -- it is something extremely personal, it requires trust, and an intensity of passion. Maybe this is what they refer to when they say it "lowers your inhibitions", the situation is extremely real.

However, you have to invest a lot more energy into love online than you would normally when you are dating someone in real life, with the exclusion of students and successful entrepreneurs, I doubt there are many people with the time to keep something like that going. The fact that it relies on voice and language means that if you are not a good talker, or you are clumsy with language, this kind of love affair is probably not for you, you have to be very sensitive to words and tone. The two girls I dated online had nice voices, and that was the main attraction really.

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