Answer The Question – Essay Example

Trapped in the Age of the Emoticon” The phrase “trapped in the age of the emoticon” used by Alice Mathias no page number) refers to the tendency of internet and text messaging users to reduce their emotional expressions to cute little computer generated “smilies” which are a kind of picture code, or shortcut for conversation. This way of communicating is particularly common between younger people who use social networking sites like “Facebook” to keep up contact with their real life friends and to make new internet friends from all over the world. Many older people, and those not comfortable with computer mediated communication, see a big difference between face to face conversations and internet conversations, and for them it seems inconceivable that people would fall in love over the internet. The so-called “facebook generation” however, born in the last twenty years or so, have become so accustomed to interacting via computer and hand held devices that they see this as the normal way to explore relationships of all kinds. They are adept at switching to their virtual identity, or to various different identities using avatars, photographs and texts to express their personality. Speaking and writing become fused when the communications are in real time, with no delay such as in email or letters, and so for this kind of user, there is little difference between real life and internet life. Some would say that face to face relationships are just as much about presenting images of the self as internet communications, only on the internet the artifice is more open and clear for all to see.
There are obvious dangers in pursuing romantic relationships over the internet when the people involved never actually see each other in the early weeks or months, and there is potential for stalking, grooming, and predatory behaviour. Information is easily available on how to limit the possibility of major deception occurring. The danger of harm is, however, equally and perhaps more present in face to face situations, and psychological damage can occur in both domains. So long as people are aware of the potential for fluid identities and take reasonable precautions to protect their personal safety, there is no reason to become “trapped” in internet communication modes. For many people this is their natural habitat, and the place where they do most of their emotional growing up.
Fountain, Henry. “The Lonely American Just Got a Bit Lonlier” New York Times July
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Garreau, Joel. “Friends indeed. As we click with more pals online, friendship
multiplies”. Washington Post April 20, 2008. Online at:
Mathias, Alice. “Love in the Digital Age” New York Times July 17 2010. Online at: