Picture two people. They are separated by hundreds if not thousands of miles. Through the wonder of the information age, they meet online somehow.

It is a new twist on an old story - boy meets girl (or boy meets boy, or girl meets girl, or whatever). It is a story we all know, told through the ages from "Romeo and Juliet" to "You've Got Mail".

The story has been told many times, and analyzed more. What possible addition do you have to it?

In part, we are enamored by this fairytale we overlook something about the nature of information age communication.

Yeah, Yea

When two people are attracted to each other, it is the similarities that draw them closer.

*click click* /msg cute_from_CA hello there... I'm from Mountain View. How about you?
Oh... as you were saying?

We've got a 100% match there... two people, both on E2, both from California. Or is it?

The online world offers us few clues about the other person - this can be good or bad - depending on one's goals.

I've met lots of people online

True, and probably some of them you would have discounted as potential friends if you had met them on the street.

True... some of the people online that I have met smoke, yet I can't stand it if they were near me.

Furthermore, two people that meet online, although they may be an initial perfect match -

Like cute_from_ca?

Yes, exactly. Over time online, as two people discover more about each other, they move from perfect matches to less and less perfect matches. Hypothetically...

          A.E. Go                   cute_from_ca*
food..... cook it until its burnt   sushi
salsa.... mild                      hot!
smoke.... non-smoker                smoker
fun...... card games                nintendo
outdoors. backpack in the woods     a walk down the sidewalk
work..... workaholic                slacker
music.... classical                 heavy metal
*: This is an amalgamation of many people that A.E. Go has meet and had crushes on that last sometime between 1 min. and 1 year. Do not necessarily be surprised or afraid, these are just examples that have popped into my mind. I am not stalking you.

As the similarity between two people lesses, so does the amount of interpersonal attraction. This doesn't mean that it can't happen - but rather represents general trends in attitudes.

Ok, so maybe cute_from_ca and I won't go beyond just friends, what about all those who are friends

"I like you, do you like me?" This is a spiral that forms. It can be either an upward or a downward spiral. When someone asks you for info, or praises your contribution, C!s a node, etc... this forms a bond and you are more likely to feel that he or she likes you. The big difference with the electronic medium is the limited ways that this can be shown. Of these ways, attention is the most powerful. Responding to a writeup in a complementary fashion, agreeing, and referring to a person by name are powerful and rewarding.

I still remember when jessicapierce corrected a node title of mine as a newbie... ahh... such euphoria.

You mentioned a downward spiral too? This isn't about NIN, right?

Correct. The spiral can work in both ways. It does illustrate that liking a person may cause them to like you back. Just the change in how you act towards a person, complimenting them and noticing them may cause them to complement you and notice you too. Real friendships can be built from this.

I assume you also remember the girl you tried to get the attention of all through High School?

Often when we are initially spurned, we try harder to gain the approval and attention of the individual.

Hey! I can only create so many deborah909 and jessciaperice nodeshells an hour... give me a break.

There are (of course) three outcomes:

Often the 'likeness' (if it can be measured) is stronger than if we had it from the beginning.

A good wine, fermented over time with stress is better than grape juice off the shelf?

Well, yes - if you look at it that way. If we succeed at getting the attention of the target, we like them more than if they had liked us all along.

There is one key difference between the gaining and loosing of interpersonal relationships. In real life, it is harder to 'drop out' of relationships, and there are fewer people to interact with. Thus, we tend to invest more in relationships that are 'tangible'. There little motivation to try to spend lots of time and energy following someone online, it is much easier to start over again.

So what about cute_from_ca?

Keep clicking. She may be the one. She may not. There is only one way to find out. This is not to say that things can't happen, but rather an attempt to try to help us understand why things do happen. Lasting friendships can be found, and love too - it is important to realize that this is not face to face - the rules are not the same.


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