February 18, 2010
I watched You've Got Mail over Valentine's weekend...twice. As much as I love the movie, it has always bothered me that both Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly are in serious relationships when they begin their online correspondence. There's something more than a little creepy about that. If they weren't happy, and clearly they weren't, why didn't they end their relationships before pursuing one another online?
Apparently in real life, it can be even creepier. We've come to recognize that there are people who deliberately look for online relationships - elationships - with no intention of ever meeting. There was an article about it last week on MSNBC Technology & Science. Read the sentence that sums it up:
Now, there’s a new online annoyance — the person who doesn’t want to meet but is all too happy to email, text, tweet, IM, or scrawl on your Facebook wall indefinitely. They don’t want a real relationship as much as its virtual doppelganger.
A virtual doppelganger? Why would anyone want that? The article suggests a few reasons.
For some, of course, it's the same thing that's gone on since the beginning of time, a way to pretend to be something you're not.
For others, it's not about finding a relationship - it's about collecting people. They add these virtual relationships as friends to their Facebook pages, as though they were trophies.
And then there are those for whom it's just a way to pass the time.
If you're in an online relationship, believe me, I want you to experience the ending from You've Got Mail. I want you to meet really nice people who want the same things you want, and who are honest about who they are. I want you to be Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly finally getting together at the end of the movie with Somewhere Over the Rainbow playing.
But more than anything, I want you to be careful. I want you to guard your heart and your mind because you're not dealing with Joe Fox or Kathleen Kelly. You're dealing someone real, who might not be looking for what they say they're looking for.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)