Love In The Time Of Skype

People are still reckless when it comes to love. I say that with a slight edge of surprise because of what we know in these electronically enlightened/enhanced times. I mean, we have access to so much information these days that we can know everything about someone if we want to.

Everything.

Many people meet online these days. Many people become good friends or fall in love. I am actually all for that because making connections with people is very important. Hugely important.

But for goodness sake, particularly when it comes to love, make sure the person is who they say they are before you decide they are the love of your life and drop everything to fly half way around the world to be with them.

I have two stories for you.

One is over and one is beginning.

Both involve meeting people online and chatting over Skype.

One is foolhardy. I’m hoping the other isn’t.

My sister has a friend who was divorced two years ago. She hasn’t dated anyone since then but a year ago struck up a friendship with a guy she met on Skype. She lives in Australia and he lives in New Zealand. They chatted every day for hours up until a month ago.

Now for those of you who have never used Skype it is a form of video chat. You can actually see the person you are talking to. Sometimes there is a slight delay and the picture can slip in and out of focus but mostly the image is quite clear.

I would have thought it would be hard to dupe someone on Skype. Apparently, it is not.

My sister’s friend was duped by a man. She is fifty years old and the wool was completely pulled over her eyes. Or in this case the false beard.

The guy chatting to her on Skype wore a false beard.

When I saw a screenshot of him the first thing I said was : That guy looks like he’s wearing a fake beard.

My sister’s friend was too blinded by love to notice. Or care.

She fell in love with the bearded man and went all the way to New Zealand to declare that love. The bearded man turned out to be a 17 year old boy who had been chatting to my sister’s friend as a prank. He and his friends had set up an entire Facebook page ridiculing her. They referred to her as a desperate cougar.

I could not believe the maliciousness of some of the comments left on that page. It was obvious to the bearded boy and to his friends that this woman was in love with him but they did not try to spare her feelings. Their lack of compassion for someone who was not a desperate cougar but desperately lonely, floored me. If they were in the same room with me I would kick their butts. Hard.

Sometimes when we are in love we see what we want to see. We create a view of someone that may not be entirely accurate.

The second story involves a family friend who has given up his job, his apartment, his car and most of his worldly goods to fly to Spain to be with a girl he met on Skype. He is 24. She is 22.

They chat for hours every day. He has never met her in person but claims she is the love of his life. He has only been chatting to her for three months.

He is flying to Spain tomorrow. I am worried for him. I am not sure you can know someone well enough from only seeing them on a webcam to warrant giving up one life for another.

Does this make me unromantic? Or cynical? Or too old to understand the dating protocol of the modern world?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that love in the time of Skype could be reckless and wonderful and exciting. It could be all of those things. But if you’re not careful it also  sounds like it could end in tears.

*Image Hello? by jazdencja via DeviantArt.

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20 thoughts on “Love In The Time Of Skype

  1. Oh my, what a horrible thing to happen to someone. I don’t even want to register that people can be so cruel. I just hope it ends well for the young lad, I must admit to feeling cynical … but I wish him luck, and LOTS of it.

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  2. Hi DEBORAH:
    It is horrible, isn’t it? I cannot believe what some people do on the web. It is staggering. I am feeling cynical too. Wouldn’t you at least go for a holiday first before giving up everything here? What if she turns out to not be the girl he thought? I am so worried for him….

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  3. How awful!
    I don’t know… it’s easy to lie online.
    Though as I’m finding out. It’s easy to get stabbed in the back by people you were supposed to be able to trust.

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  4. There are so many non-verbal ways we get to know someone who shares our real space that we are blinded by on the internet. When it comes to love, especially, there are pheremones and patterns of eye contact and body language which are all missing on Skype, where you can’t even make eye contact. Love is blind in the real world. Reduce vision further with the internet, and it’s just likely to be blinder.

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  5. Oh what a horrible, horrible thing to happen to your sisters friend!

    I am not so worried for the other couple, at that age it is all a big adventure and risks are part of it. (I probably would have done something like that myself when I was that age.)

    Whatever happens it will be a life changing experience he will never forget. If you can’t take risks and follow your heart at that age, when can you?

    Play it too safe and it can stifle the life force. He can always come home again and he would have had a remarkable experience, whatever the outcome. When we are older it becomes more difficult to take risks like that, we have more to lose.

    I so feel for the other poor woman that was set up though. 😦

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  6. Oh what a cruel, horrible, nasty prank those boys pulled on your sister’s friend! I’m flabergasted. It saddens and angers me when certain men see all women merely as playthings and if they decide a particular women doesn’t meet their “standards” or angers them somehow then she is a toy to be broken.

    And I totally agree with Querulous Squirrel. Those in-person cues are vital to a relationship.

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  7. Happy Valentine’s day Selma. What those boys (in particular the main one) did says a lot about them – and not just the obvious (that they are nasty and vindictive) – I think that the 17 year old was getting something else out of the whole situation! I wouldn’t worry about the young guy flying to Spain – as they say, it’s all good (might break his heart in the process but that happens to everyone).

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  8. It is mind boggling what some people will do for a laugh at the expense of another. I really feel for that woman.

    As for the young man, I hope it turns out to be the love of his life. But if it doesn’t, like others have said, he is young enough to recover and it will be an adventure.

    I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day.

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  9. I never really thought about people ‘meeting’ on skype. Probably I’m old fashioned, but you wouldn’t cold-call someone at random on a landline, and form a relationship, would you?

    I just checked my contacts list, and, would you believe, there’s only 3 people on it who I haven’t met personally, and they’re ‘dot.comrades’ who I’ve known and had dealings with for years.

    Yes, I do get occasional texts, requesting a ‘chat’, and suggesting maybe more, but these, I invariably block.

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  10. Oh my, what a horrible thing to happen to your sister’s friend. I have done quite a bit of online dating (delving back into it recently), and I’ve met some really terrific people, a few romantic successes and some long-term friends. And lots and lots of cads, weirdos and shysters. I’ve learned a lot in the process, particularly about being mindful of clues, nuances and my own good instincts. One does have to be VERY careful in this realm and use common sense.
    On the other hand – I’ve taken some risks too – and I don’t regret them for an instant. One was to travel in Finland and Russia with a friend I made via a dating site, and another was a romantic venture to Wales – to spend some time with a man I’d been video chatting with daily as well as weekly telephone conversations for more than a year. I simply couldn’t imagine not recognizing someone faking an age – both in appearance and conversation. The kid must have been good – but then you said you recognized that fake beard right away. Love – or the want of it – can be blind!

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  11. Yes, that is cruel although I do think some people are just blind to the obvious – be in it real life or online or whatever. It does seem incredible that a 50 year old woman would not spot she was talking to someone so much younger.

    I have made a lot of friends online and like Jen I have taken some risks to meet some of them. But I have gone knowing the risks, knowing it could be a disaster. I trust my instincts and mostly they have proved sound. I certainly have no regrets.

    I wouldn’t worry about the young guy. Those are the kind of adventures to have when you are young like that.

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  12. i think this is brilliant and thoughtful. i had to wonder tho if there is a general syndrome for which the types of internetrickery are actually symptomatic, i think for instance of the way even direct services like getting a telephone or electricity hooked up in your house, are performed remotely. now you can order groceries on line and have them delivered. one may never even have the chance to wander among pickle barrels and cheese wheels because everything absolutely everything is sold at super-groceries. as if the distances now able to connect physically are wider but the trajectory of clarity lets say is narrower.
    but then there have to be changes concurrent
    with a technology that makes this
    kind of worldwide instant connection possible, the whole thing is still
    fairly young in its history, too, so it is important to look at it and your writing on it makes that point as well.

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  13. Hi NAT:
    It is easy to lie online. Too easy. I’m sorry to hear about the backstabbing, especially when you thought you could trust people. That truly sucks.

    Hi MS SQUIRREL:
    It’s true, isn’t it? An online relationship shouldn’t be entered into lightly (just like any other relationship.) Missing all those cues does worry me. It’s just all so complicated these days….

    Hi SUSANNAH:
    I agree. At 24 there is plenty of time to recover from mistakes. And who knows? It may not even be a mistake. It could be the best thing he has ever done. I do worry about my sister’s friend though. That was a very malicious thing she experienced. Some people are just plain horrible.

    Hi DAOINE:
    It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? I have seen some terrible things happen online. I don’t understand it all. If you’re the type of person who gets their jollies from that then you need help, you know what I mean? Life is tough enough without all that nonsense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ‘What is the world coming to?’

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  14. Hi GABRIELLE:
    Hope you had a romantic and smoochy Valentine’s Day.
    I know what you mean about those boys…..if my son did that he would have to get his running shoes on, I tell you. And I would make him call the woman and apologise as well as do a public apology page on Facebook. It is so nasty. Makes me sick to think about it.

    I agree. At 24 life is a bit of an adventure. And if he gets his heart broken he can write a few songs about it. He is a musician.

    Hi EMPLOYEE 3699:
    I hope you had a great ♥ Day too.
    It is staggering, isn’t it? In my day it was whooppee cushions and fake poo on the toilet seat. It’s on another level now. I can’t believe the vitriol.

    I hope it turns out to be the love of his life too. Wouldn’t it be romantic?

    Hi MELEAH:
    Isn’t it terrible? I still can’t believe it.

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    I am the same. I don’t really chat to random people. I have chatted to a few bloggers I haven’t met in person but I have known them for ages via blogging. You just don’t know what you’re in for with people you have no history with. Too unpredictable for me.

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  15. Hi JENNIFER:
    Your point about trusting your instinct is so important. I can’t imagine you ever being duped. I think it’s great that you were able to travel and it was a success. It just goes to show not everyone out there has a hidden agenda. The boy with the fake beard was actually quite intelligent. He discussed things like philosophy and politics and seemed very sophisticated. I still can’t fathom why he took it so far, however. Maybe he doesn’t have a heart.

    Hi RELUCS:
    Some people really are blind to the obvious. I think she was lonely and depressed and initially enjoyed the attention. I suspect at the back of her mind she knew something was up but didn’t want to admit it. That said I still feel for her.

    And the young guy will have an adventure that might just turn out to be true love!!

    Hi TIPOTA:
    Put with your usual aplomb. Internetrickery should be in the dictionary. How apt!

    To think that we might have entire generations who have never wandered among pickle barrels and cheese wheels saddens me. The sights and the smells of a food market transport us. To miss out on that seems such a waste.

    We should all rage against the narrowing of clarity. You make the best comments!

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  16. That is a wild story. Their insensitivity is so mean spirited. The unrelenting sense of bravado some feel behind a screen knows no boundaries really. From snappy rude emails in an office to this Skype incident you describe here Selma, it truly is the dark side of internet connections. Sadly in my job as College Counsellor (and go to person for harrassment issues), I hear many stories about cyber relationships gone off kilter because of easy access to information and other people. Bullying….. even between adults through facebook sites, texting nasty stuff to others, whacky incidents through dating sites (and I’ve had a few of those! Not written for public consumption yet! Soon!) Your sister’s friend’s painful experience takes the cake!
    There are beautiful people out there. I can attest to that personally! Through blogging and through some of the dating sites, I have met the most kind hearted lovely people. Some real jerks too.
    Maybe I should do a piece on this too……

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  17. Hi DANA:
    You definitely should do a piece on this. You would offer a very welcome perspective. I have been shocked by some nasty behaviour I have witnessed recently on the internet. There are some miserable, odious people out there who really need to get a grip. I cannot understand where they are coming from.You must have so many stories….

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  18. I think it was terrible what those boys did. It might have started out as fun, and at their age I can understand it, but the moment things got serious they should have stopped it and fessed up. My heart goes out to that poor woman.

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  19. Hi ROSHAN:
    I think the problem is that teenage pranksters don’t have the maturity to extricate themselves gracefully from difficult situations. It’s such a shame they even did it in the first place. What were they thinking??

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