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I Love You, Let's Meet » interwebs make married and single people even differenter

interwebs make married and single people even differenter

That’s not a conclusion explicitly drawn in this piece in the Times — which seems to be free so please don’t sue me, Sulzbergers — but it’s what leaps out at me. Married people are getting more of their intimacy needs met by talking to their spouses; and single people are staying connected more via the Internet.

They talk about going to the computer to help make life decisions, but it’s more than that. In the last few years, I’ve seen small-group e-mails announcing deaths, diagnoses, births, engagements, break-ups, jobs lost and gotten. This suits a certain type of single person. A type who maybe doesn’t want to process everything with one person. You’ve shared your news, and people can respond, at their own pace, or not. It’s not as intimate, there’s less of a demand, you have the control.

I’m not saying I know any single people like that, but my personal life was once described as “the diversification approach, like a mutual fund.”

Makes me wonder what’s the chicken and what the egg. Are e-mailing, online dating, blogging, MySpacing, IMing et al. making us more cut-off, solipsistic/self-sufficient or do the people who are already that way just like the Internet? Thoughts? Do you think the Internet has changed your relationships? How?
An aside on the researchers: I’m against patriarchal name-change customs in general, but if I’m Lynn Smith, studier of relationships, and I marry a guy called Lovin, I’m not sure I’m gonna hyphenate. It’s too tempting to get to say, “Howdy, I’m Dr. Lovin.”

7 Comments so far

  1. alexander on July 26th, 2006

    like you say, singles may be much more likely to do the internet/IM/text thing than marrieds — we’re out and about more, we’re online dating, and we’re trying to make sure that we’ve got plans for the weekend. if you’re married, you’re like as not none of those things — who needs to learn to text?

    and yes, lots of singles diversify like mad in an effort to replace a significant other (and/or out of personal comfort or preference). i have to say, though, it’s hard keeping track of who you’ve told what or catching people up. my current effort is to focus on a manageable set of three or four friends — but of course i’m not sure they’re focused on me.

    last but not least, for what it’s worth, your post reminded me that way back in 1999 i announced my breakup (specifically, being broken up with) via email — cuz i couldn’t bear telling the story over and over and worring about reactions (suprised? sympathetic?). but if felt strange and backfired when i got very little TLC from friends who may have been offended.

    ok i’m done.

  2. kmcleod on July 27th, 2006

    I love the info access that the internet provides, so I guess I was “made or it” before it arrived. But even though I could see a friend’s house from here by using a satellite, I’d have to fight down a queasy sense of voyeurism.
    By coincidence, I’ve recently read an article that seems to be the opposite of the Times article—about “publizens”, the millions of do-it-yourself celebrities scattered all over the media.
    Was Jessica Osmond the way she is now before MySpace?
    “British papers reported recently that Marie Osmond’s teenage daughter Jessica put up a MySpace page revealing her sexual proclivities and listing Adolf Hitler as a hero.”
    The world may never know.
    I don’t online date, but the last relationship I was in broke up using email. I don’t know whether the relationship was light enough to end that way, or if the email made it easier—perhaps easier than it should have been—to cut it off. It felt very modern, and strange, as if my love life had been replaced by a new kind of software that had an almost magical efficiency. I’ve never started a relationship through email, though; a colon and a parenthesis can seem more direct than an actual smile, but at other times can seem more equivocal. The more I want to know or date a person, the less I email them one-on-one. Like Alexander, I group-emailed you and other friends after the email break-up, and for the same time-saving reasons. I’m living in a time where I’m circulating memos about my soul.

  3. pat on July 29th, 2006

    My husband forwards me the intimate emails that he gets from strangers–like this one, then we talk about it:

    Subject: Are you my dream?

    Hello my new friend!!! My name is Anastasia. I have decided to try to find my happiness and my only
    man through the Internet. It for the first time for me. As in Russian Federation I could not find the man with which I could create the family. I very long time was not solved on this step, but I could overcome it and now, in a place absolutely new for me and not usual for me. I have decided to write to you. I hope you do not think of me poorly because I’m as a girl
    the first write to you to unfamiliar man and want will get acquainted with you. I want to tell you some words about me. I live in Moscow city. I’m 28 years old. I have a higher education. I have finished
    the Moscow State University. I live alone in the one-room apartment.
    I do not have any children and I have never been married. The family
    values, good formation and education and happiness of my future
    children are on the first place for me. To find the happiness I am
    ready to leave Moscow and move to live in other country. If you are interested in correspondence with me, please write to me on this e-mail: eko-manager@moscowlights.com
    I have a very small limit access to the Internet and for me to receive your letter on this my e-mail easyer and cheaper. I with huge impatience wait your letter and hope to hear from you soon. Koroleva Anastasia.

  4. virginia on July 29th, 2006

    oh my god, Pat, I didn’t see it was you and I was torn whether to post this comment, thinking ‘shit, I love the writing but would I be opening myself up to tons of Russo-spam?”

    I love “could not find the man with which I could create the family. I very long time was not solved on this step.” I hear ya comrade.

    I’m dying to see who writes these; is the accent faked too?

    And an even more burning question — DID Michael think poorly of her because she’s as a girl the first write to you to unfamiliar man?

  5. pat on July 30th, 2006

    Michael’s forwarding comment:

    She seems friendly…..

  6. kmcleod on July 31st, 2006

    If she exists–and she doesn’t–and you should ever have phone sex with her, ask her to say “moose and squirrel”, just for kicks.

  7. JohnG on August 19th, 2006

    I’d get her a green card if I could be her “Fearless Leader.” And if it doen’t work out, there’s always The Wayback Machine.