between people who have met online
, and in some cases know each other only via the Internet
. Online friendships are similar in many ways to pen pal
relationships and, like internet romance, they have been widely debated and often criticized.
It is arguably very difficult for people to establish meaningful relationships with those they can't see or interact with. Without verbal and physical cues that assist in gauging a person's emotions, there is a high possibility of deception. Since the development of high-speed, broadband internet, the face of Internet friendships has changed significantly. It is possible to hold real-time audio and video conversations over the Internet (creating telepresence), providing additional levels of interactivity beyond plain text.
Still, use of these technologies is not always feasible or convenient, and some people may prefer not to use them.
As in any matter involving human interpersonal relationships, the outcomes of such relationships can vary widely. There have been many cases where relationships that began as online romances led to meetings and long term relationships or marriage. In cases where people in a relationship are geographically separate, the relationship can often be started or continued online, which some people call online relationships or internet relationships (in some cases for some time between an initial meeting and one of those involved moving), this bears significant similarity to long distance relationships which were maintained over other forms of long distance communication in the past, including telephonic or pen pal relationships. It has been argued that the development of the internet added a significant enhancement to long distance relationships (regardless of whether those involved had met physically) because it allows for much more frequent and personal conversation than any previous technology had, thereby reducing some of the difficulties associated with traditional long distance relationships.
Online relationships have received negative reception from critics and skeptics alike due to how easy the internet makes deception possible. The internet allows complete confidentiality so it is often easy for the deceiver to find a picture of an individual they chose to later represent themselves as to the victim for a variety of reasons. Information is easily altered, and many people state incorrect information about their age, their gender and their appearance. The deceiver creates an online persona
when they chat with other people. While many people do this, some people are still honest when they talk online, but because of the easy deception many people are wary about people they meet online.
Due to the internet's immense popularity it is often utilized to find a partner. Skeptics do not believe that it is possible for someone to fall in love online, suggesting they have not felt real chemistry and can't be sure of who the person they're talking to really is. Because of this, people disregard online relationships as not real, or as a fake. While the opposite has been proven, skeptics of the subject are not convinced that dating online can lead to a successful outcome. Many people in online relationships have to endure ridicule and criticism from family, friends and even strangers on the internet itself because it's considered unsuccessful.
The true self
One of the aspects of internet friendship or relationship in general is that online relation gives an opportunity to reveal personal details of one's life that usually people would feel uncomfortable revealing in face-to-face conversations. People who believe in online relationships are more likely to believe in making online friendships because these relationships are important to their identity. Personality theorists found out that forming relationship in newsgroup was a positive experience especially for socially anxious and lonely individuals who find it difficult expressing themselves in face-to-face situations.