online relationships are really real

Okay, it’s no more than 26.4% real. Here’s my math, to show my work:

We have 5 senses: see, hear, touch, taste, smell. The online world allows us to see and hear one another. That’s 40%.

(Aside: I don’t think we want taste or smell. And, touch is one thing that’s hard to reproduce in any mediated way. And being a hugger myself, I do like touch, but can’t get that even from live & in-person people I’m around. And, when I’m in an Asian cultural context, that doesn’t help.)

There are 3 dimensions in the real world: height, width, depth. With web video technology, we can cover 2 of them, so that’s 66%.

Albert Mehrabian‘s describes that face-to-face communication consists of 7% words (verbal), 38% tone of voice, 55% body language. Web video technology transmits all of this, so that’s 100%.

40% x 66% x 100% = 26.4%

I’m being facetious. Face-to-face relationship is one kind. Online relationships is another kind. One does not replace the other. Each have some values in common and some values that are different.

And, I think, having both relating face-to-face and online connection can enhance and allow relationships to be that much more fuller than just one kind to the exclusion of the other kind.

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13 Responses

  1. Jason Taylor says:

    Mathematically, I was lost… 🙂 but I love your point. our challenge is to help bring others along. i was a worship leader for many years and one of the images that stuck with me was the image of opening the door to the throne room and inviting others to enter with me. in many ways, we have to do the same thing as we “blaze” trails into social media online. There are so many people I interact with that are skeptical of finding REAL relationship, and while I agree – it is different – different doesn't mean it's not REAL.


  2. djchuang says:

    Jason, thanks for your comment! There does need to be attention paid to how we bring people along, and glad you're noticing that. At the same time, it seems to me that a large portion of the conversations in faith communities are raising the cautions and alerting to the dangers of online relationships. Granted, they're there. Yet there's so much more we can discover if we'd spend more of our conversational bandwidth on exploring and experimenting with how social media / online world can accompany and express our faith.

  3. Ken says:

    Good post. Both are real, but they are different. I have been wondering for some time how far on line relationships can go towards being like face to face ones. It is a fact that the younger generation experiences a significant portion of their relationship interactions on line. But it is difficult to figure out how that experience changes them in comparison to the older generation that grew up without that option. In any case, we must take full advantage of electronic communication for the Kingdom.

  4. April Mann says:

    I agree! And well said. 🙂

  5. AM/WF says:

    nice blog dj. we've covered this topic in our forum as well. feel free to chime in.