Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is There a Future for an Electonic I Do?

I remember my surprise 30 years ago when a coworker told me he had proposed to a penpal from Guyana without ever meeting her in person. Their marriage has had its ups and downs but as far as I know they are still together.

I've been thinking about relationships recently and the new possibilities the Internet provides. Some of my best friends are people I only know electronically. We've never met and it may remain that way. I actually know more about many of these people than I know about personal acquaintances of many years.

Electronic friendship has many advantages. For one you can be friends on your own schedule. For some that is the middle of the night. For others it's 5 minutes between meetings. Secondly, friendship is not based on appearances. Anyone can reinvent herself on the Internet. I can depict myself as a buff size 6 without glasses and 20 years younger if I choose. Agoraphobics can suddenly be among people without going out of their houses. Disabled people can shed their disabilities.

So many things about relationships are easier. For people who stress over forming, maintaining, and terminating relationships, it is infinitely easier to do all of these things electronically. There is just not the same level of emotional angst.

Apropos my coworker from long ago, I wonder how long it will be before we see Internet marriages? I envision all parties entering an electronic chatroom, where the person conducting the ceremony asks the appropriate questions and the consenting partners say "I do" in the form of a happy face and electronic kisses. They remunerate the officiating person via Paypal and then all sign off with TTYL. There are couples who maintain long-distance relationships now for career purposes. What is to preclude the wedding itself from being electronic?

There is this little matter of intimacy and procreation. But even that could be handled. Otherwise, it's a great form of birth control.

What do you think? Have I totally lost it?!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I'm suprized it has not been done yet!

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're truly thinking outside the box...or inside the box?

I don't think it will happen, but it's an original and amusing thought.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Marriage over the Internet would only happen if the government recognizes it in someway. People would require to provide proof of who the are and proof that there are no impediments to marriage. Personally, I doubt it would happen as a universal thing. I could see electronic registration and confirmation of marriage, but I cannot see governments recognizing an Internet marriage.

On the other hand, I think the government should get out of the marriage business and leave it as an unregulated cultural / religious practice. The government can specify what sorts of dependency / co-dependency relationships it recognizes, but as far as marriage goes, I think it has no business there.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep coming back to this, thinking about it. I don't think I could reinvent myself online or develop a relationship with someone who'd done it. I like quirks. I like my boys warts and all.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I think it's a very creative and fanciful could almost see it on a TV sitcom or The Simpsons.

It is amazing the number of people I know in real life and through internet life who have met through on-line dating and who end up getting hitched. I'm so surprised it works. What if after all the time invested, they meet and there's no chemistry? I know this guy who broke up with his wife, met a lady in China from some dating thing, went over there for 2 weeks and ended up giving her a ring! I'm so cautious, I'd never be on either end of that one. It took me 4 1/2 years to marry my husband and we knew each other really well and spent lots of time together. (I've never been to Casinos much either!)But...guess one never knows!

BTW, what does TTYL mean?

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard about couples in chat rooms holding "chat weddings" where they exchange vows and are considered "married" while online but it's not legally binding and often the participants are married to someone else offline! It's a strange world we live in...

6:46 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

OL -- Maybe it has been done and I just don't know about it.

Jamy -- It made me laugh to imagine it!

Richard -- I'm sure this would never be officially sanctioned, but I'm not sure why not. Given that you can be officially married by someone who virtually bought his license.

Kristin -- I'm with you. There's nothing like the real thing.

MOI -- TTYL is "talk to you later." I can tell you don't have a teenager in the house! I only learned this from my husband and daughter you know all these abbreviations!

Pauline -- Our world is strange and getting stranger. It will be interesting to see if this idea comes to fruition in the distant future...

8:51 PM  
Anonymous renfrosteve said...

Watched a show on PBS last week concerning computer chips into our Brains and bodies to enhance and repair. its already being done on a fundmental level.
All you would have to do to GOOGLE a topic would be to wonder about it. I don't know why not.
I think it will be a long time before you can substitute even the most honest and extensive on-line friendship for the growing closer that occurs from a knowing glance, a hug or handshake,a less than perfect meal that is eaten because there nothing else ready, a broken promise, the bringing of water and rubbing of feet.
You get my best on my blog...somedays, in real time, my best is poor.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Yeah, reach out and touch someone only goes so far electronically. The Internet will never be a substitute for physical contact. But I think there are some people who may be more at ease in this medium than they are face to face with someone. Perhaps part of it comes from the ability to fantasize about someone when you have never seen that person. How many of us have asked whether an Internet friend might be disappointed with the real thing?

10:04 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

It sounds very sterile which is not to say I don't LOVE my internet friends, but intimate relationships without touch, without smell? Even the idea of it makes me sad.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There might be couples who are *married* on Second Life, the virtual reality *life* people are leading.

7:02 PM  

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