Posts Tagged ‘Social Psychology’
PILLOW TALK… AND…. STUFF…
An Article in the NY Times on July 21, 2009 entitled “Love in 2-D” (how did I miss that before now?) does some investigative journalism into the phenomenon of otaku culture in Japan — The romantic involvement of adult men with 2-D characters from video games/manga/comics. They’re ranked on a scale, depending on how intense the relationship is (guys who still have hope for a 3-D relationship with an actual woman are ranked a mere 1, while the other end of the scale are the men who have taken to carrying body pillows with the image of their “girlfriend” with them everywhere. And ordering food for them at restaurants).
This is an actual movement. People have given up on relationships with living beings and decided to devote themselves to body pillows with the image of a character on it. If nothing else, please click over to the article to see the picture of the man interviewed with this pillow. It’s very…. unsettling. People routinely descry the dangers of the Internet and how it slowly erodes and eventually destroys the social competency of already backward, shy, or socially awkward individuals, and this kind of mentality and lifestyle just take those potential dysfunctions to a whole new level.
Honda, the “Guru of the 2-D Love movement” claims that:
“Pure love is completely gone in the real world [...] As long as you train your imagination, a 2-D relationship is much more passionate than a 3-D one.”
Sound outrageous? Remember when folks were getting divorces for affairs in Second Life? Who could have a connection with another human being that they aren’t in the same room with, let alone the same city, state, or country? Crazy, right? In the past two to three years, more “relationship” advice columns, magazines, and sites have devoted substantial space to addressing these kinds of relationships. Wonder if you’re in danger of having an affair by simply being on Facebook? There are plenty of self assessments for that. Worried that you’re too emotionally attached to someone online? Could you be having an emotional affair? There are explanations, definitions, and assessments for that too. But it doesn’t stop there. Pop “forgive emotional affair” into any search engine and you’ll wind up with well over 50,000 articles, sites, and advice columns on how to deal with it and move forward, and in some cases how to tell him or her to take a hike.
What defined relationships before the Internet age (and still do, in my opinion) are the personal connections that are made and maintained. Having physical interaction certainly doesn’t dictate the presence of a relationship… the emotional and personal attachment and interaction between people decides that. While there isn’t opportunity for the physical aspect of a relationship, the emotional, psychological, and personal attraction and connections are most definitely there (and the physical absense seems to make some people think “it doesn’t really count” when, in fact, it sometimes counts more than the physical relationship they find themselves in at the time). Talk to the women and men in any forum or chat room that have been burned by those kinds of “relationships.” Certainly the people who break up or divorce because of these relationships don’t see them as child’s play, or silly, or irrelevant. Why then, is it surprising that people alone, rejected, socially awkward, beaten down, or in miserable relationships seek out people they can “shut off” if they have to through an online relationship? How surprised should we actually be that some individuals have taken that possibility for a perfect relationship online to the next level– a perfect relationship with an inanimate object who can’t leave you, can’t argue, can’t complain, can’t do anything that even the online/Facebook/Myspace/Chatroom/TextMessaging/IMing versions can do.
Is it healthy? I don’t think I’m equipped to say one way or another (Hey, is it healthier to succumb to abject depression and self loathing because you can’t or haven’t found someone, or is it healthier to create the illusion of that love to bolster your self esteem and self worth?). I can only say that for me, no. It’s not. I have some social anxiety, but I just can’t ever see myself or anyone I know, online or off, for that matter, throwing up my hands and committing myself to a pillow. Seriously. If I ever did that, please be sure to visit me in one of the Wards I’m sure they’d place me in.
Honestly, how surprised are you that this is going on?