Akihiko Kondo with his 'wife' Hatsune Miku Image Credit: Twitter

In Japan, a man was in the news for marrying a hologram in an elaborate wedding. In India, another man killed a woman after she rejected his proposal to marry her daughter, whom he had befriended on social media. Are virtual connections become unhealthily intense? Gulf News readers debate.

In Japan, a man was in the news for marrying a hologram in an elaborate wedding. In India, another man killed a woman after she rejected his proposal to marry her daughter, whom he had befriended on social media. Are virtual connections become unhealthily intense? Gulf News readers debate

Like anything in life, if you do something the wrong way, it can have a negative impact on people’s life.

- Lilly Sabri, Health and fitness blogger

Perspective

Scary things can happen, with or without social media

I think it is scary. The power of technology is incredible and the opportunity that technology has provided to the world is unbelievable. For example, I have made a career on social media and if you had told that to me 10 years ago, when I was doing my physiotherapy degree, I would not have believed you.

But like anything in life, if you do something the wrong way, it can have a negative impact on people’s life. Technology can sometimes be unfiltered, we don’t know where it is going to go or what impact it is going to have. So, it does become an opportunity for such extreme actions. But in life, these things can happen anyway. However, social media is heightening the chances of extreme actions being taken, which is why we need to filter it as best as we can.

As someone who has a lot of followers on social media, I wouldn’t say that I feel at all worried that it would go to an extreme stage. In fact, I call my followers my online family and a lot comes down to being open and honest and show as much of your real life as possible.

From Ms Lilly Sabri

Health and fitness blogger based in Dubai

I actually have a couple of friends who have gotten married to their ‘virtual friend’ in reality, not to a hologram.

- Praveen Pinto, Director of digital marketing at a Dubai-based company

Healthy

Online relationships have a place in life

This is a bit of a mixed bag, since you firstly need to understand the objective of the relationship. It is not uncommon that people initially meet virtually and then meet in person to have a real relationship. I actually have a couple of friends who have gotten married to their ‘virtual friend’ in reality, not to a hologram. This was an intense emotional connection between two individuals that brought happiness and led to a fruitful future and visibly good mental health.

Another example would be two consenting adults who decide they only want to have a virtual relationship, perhaps on the basis of geographical differences, which is not uncommon. Again, this could be good for their mental health.

The second story is a clear case of a situation gone bad. Let’s hope in this digital age, the positive connections outweigh the negative ones and that virtual relationships bring a sense of joy and belonging to the individuals involved.

From Mr Praveen Pinto

Director of digital marketing at a Dubai-based company

Virtual relationships accelerate normal intimacy.

- Dr Tara Wyne, Clinical psychologist working in Dubai

Reality check

Online relationships can create imaginary intimacy

Virtual relationships accelerate normal intimacy. A new couple can message each other all day, sharing thoughts, feelings and experiences that normally take several in person meetings and connection to establish. People lose their inhibitions and can engineer a rhythm and intensity of connection that may not even be possible in real life. We often can appear brighter, wittier, more optimistic and interesting when we use words and messages to convey who and what we are.

In real life, we develop a muscle for being in ‘relationship discomfort’ and understand that everything cannot be solved with the press of a button. In the end, the pseudo intimacy of the virtual relationship pre-empts real intimacy. It does not create the mindset or skillset to allow a couple to build a solid foundation where values are aligned and there is a patient commitment to being together. Virtual partners can react badly and have greatly exaggerated reactions when reality intrudes and they cannot have what they want. They have not spent any time or effort building resilience for struggle and so can be strangely immature and incapable when they do meet it.

Virtual relationships often become removed from social norms and whilst in the virtual world one behaviour and moral code may be entirely acceptable, it isn’t always mirrored in the real world.

From Dr Tara Wyne

Clinical psychologist working in Dubai

Gulf News asked: Do you think online relationships are more intense than ones that are established in person?

  • Yes - 20%
  • No - 80%