Infidelity in the virtual world

Modern expansions in technology have brought major modifications in day to day interactions. We may say that virtual world offers a vulnerability for online connectivity and with the mask of virtual communication, it reduces the worry of picking on every minor detail.

Relationships, personal and impersonal, are reformed daily and the dynamics of relationships are constantly changing. These dynamics of human relationships are always on a roll due to natural and mediated factors.

If we go back to internet virgin world, human relationships used to be very natural. Now they have become oblique and slanted. Information and computer technology is playing a huge role in altering the true picture of human relationships and behaviors.

Everything has a virtual version now. This is so clichéd that reality has become more razed due to cyberspace and its entangled connection with human life. Internet has redefined pretty much everything. It’s dreadful if we think.

In multitasking and multiuser world of internet, social networking sites are the most addictive platforms. Facebook and other sites for interpersonal connections are literally in your hip pocket.

These social networking sites involve us sneakily. In fact, “involvement” is the most elusive aspect of virtual procedures. The foundation of cyberspace has been laid on this imperative factor of involvement, which soon becomes an obsession. Obsessions linked with social networking setups come with risky rewards.

For instance, access to sexually explicit materials and private online relationships. This leads to online infidelity. Yes. Online infidelity is not a myth now. It has become clearer to us lately.  Internet has restructured the whole concept of infidelity.

There has been a legitimate study saying that saying that people cite Facebook as a contributing factor in the dissolution of marriages. It’s a fact which we all know as in cyberspace that internet cheating is not an enigma anymore.

Cheating in a wired world has become so easy and interesting. This might be weird to say “interesting”, but it’s a seductive phenomenon.  Somehow it seems difficult to define online infidelity, when it is such an elusive phenomenon. It’s not physical. It’s a virtual cheating.

Anything which is intangible causes more confusion. It’s not about dating in a physical manner,exchanging gifts or going someplace,it’s rather a crueler form of cheating. Because it is ambiguous, deceptive and rather more satisfying. Maybe because of lesser risk of getting caught.

There have been enormous studies on internet sexuality, like use of pornography etc. but online infidelity behaviors have been widely ignored. Maybe we have this assumption that it is a different form of internet sexuality.

Just to make this clear there are few major studies to quote. Cooper and Griffin Shelley (2002) stated in their book The Internet: The Next Sexual Revolution that online infidelity is like any other sexual activity which “involves sexuality for purposes of recreation entertainment, exploration, support, education, commerce, efforts to attain or secure sexual or romantic partners, and so on”. Other scholars like Hertlein and Piercy define this nasty phenomenon in Internet infidelity: A Critical Review of the literature as a sexual or romantic cheating which is unacceptable and may breach the marital contract of loyalty and honesty.

How come we are stuck in this situation? Because such acts remain highly unrevealed due to high definition of secrecy of such social networking websites. You can always put the passwords or delete the whole thing.

There are many driving forces behind this cheating. Seeking the satisfactory social interactions, entertainment, and emotional communication. It is always very safe and comfortable to talk with a stranger.

It had become highly overrated. No one really cares about the consequences. It is actually possible that whole online relationship goes away with mutual decisions, but it does damage the committed non-virtual offline relationship.

A person somehow becomes addictive to such talking, gets prone to escapism and negligence towards actual real life partner. One internet user might think the online relationship is “harmless fun”,but it could be a horrible act of mistrust for the person’s partner.

Assistant professor at university of Nevada, Hertlein, wrote many articles on internet infidelity. In one of her cases a husband tried to defend the online cheating as “we never met in a hotel, so it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “Nothing ever happened.” Obviously his woman didn’t buy that lame explanation.

So most of it doesn’t make any sense, but it damages your whole reputation if it gets revealed. There is a big factor of sexual chemistry in internet infidelity. Many researchers quote that “most participants feel sexual in a medium that makes it relatively easy to flirt or share sexual fantasies online.” This is the possible charm of online relationship; it may feel more intimate than the real relationship. It is mainly not about the physical contact, it is more about seeking an emotional encounter with an individual because it has become so easy now.

For the sake of apprehension, it’s very important to know the factors of internet to understand them,which maybe are anonymity, accessibility, affordability, acceptability, ambiguity and accommodation. We look for an idealized version of ourselves on the internet. The price of participation in this phenomenon is very low.

It’s largely acceptable to make an online account and there are less restrictions. It is never considered as a rebellious act. Ambiguity makes this act interesting. This is human nature and the last point is, we can easily get comfortable in online virtual environment. Because we aren’t there physically.

So, the bottom line is internet infidelity has become a lot more common than you realize. This is sad that in this age of information and communication technology we become less concerned about honesty and loyalty.

One in seven people get vulnerable with internet cheating every other day. It’s a shame how a third party damages the exclusive real relationship. It’s not frowned upon that online networking becomes more of an emotional support for somebody. One should remedy that. It makes you vulnerable, it makes your real life relationships become vulnerable.

We are all the part of this globalized interconnected world and it is okay to be there and play around. But it is not okay to seek digital exchanges and become obsessed with it. It leads to more isolation and emotional distances in real life.

One should talk about the acceptable online behavior. It is very imperative to figure out and understand how people are communicating online.  There should be a “cyberspace talk” on different forums.  We should mull if people we don’t know personally should be part of our virtual life or not. There should be moral check to use the social network accounts.

As a participant of virtual activity, one should understand the sensitivity of sending someone a private message. Ask yourself, how you would feel if your partner was sharing intimate videos or photos online with someone.

Of course it’s offensive. It’s a taboo. Every person living this virtual life has to conceptualize this phenomenon at the interpersonal level. One should see the possible outcomes of internet infidelity and how it could jeopardize real life relationships. At the end of the day, of course it’s a personal choice of an individual whether to indulge in such vulnerable act or not.

This infidelity is toxic. This online interactivity, conflict free fantasy can never be compared with real life relationships. One should comprehend that cheating online is always damaging. Infidelity in any form is detrimental. It is the act of diminishing themselves, threating their own self-esteem and undermining the trust with their real life partner.

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1 Comment

  1. Priscila Lorencini says

    Perfect text!

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