The human need for affiliation creates the challenges and rewards of finding acquaintances, forming close friendships, as well as intimate relationships. Through technological advances cyberspace, or the internet, has become a place of multiple opportunities for people to be able to fulfill that need for affiliation. Websites, chat rooms, and online communities are just some examples of virtual platforms for people to seek others, come together, and find that special someone. These opportunities can result in positive outcomes allowing people to achieve what or whom they were seeking, but they can also result in harm to themselves and others, resulting with damaging consequences. Cyberspace does not come with a warning label. People who use the internet as a means to seek relationships are at risk of being exposed to positive as well as negative results. Being made aware of some of those risks and dangers, and realizing that forming relationships on the internet is not all fun and games, may be ways to help promote a positive future for cyberspace as a place to form successful relationships.
New Ways of Enhancement
There are many positive sides to forming relationships via the internet. Online communities may offer a safe environment for the user to feel welcome and among peers due to commonalities between themselves. Using the internet to form relationships may benefit the user by providing mental stimulation, an increase in self esteem due to receiving praise from others, and by comparing oneself to others (Zywica & Danowski, 2008, p.8).
Individuals may feel isolated from society wether it be due to their sexuality, likes, or dislikes, and the virtual world is an area they do not feel like they have to conform to certain social norms fit in. Communication “trees” that are used by neighborhood members to stay connected about local events, gathering, and crime watch are increasingly popular ways to stay connected with those around them. The internet is also an affordable means of communication for most people. It is less expensive to chat on line with someone from their homes or businesses than it is to travel to the same geographic location to meet face to face.
By joining a social networking site like Facebook™ the user is able to control what they want the world to see and know about them. They can choose the words they want, the photograph they like, and submit only the information they deem necessary to represent themselves as they wish. The motive of impression management has been reported by Utz & Beukeboom (2011) to be an important factor for people to not only set up their user profile, but to maintain it as well (512). Another positive effect of social networking is maintaining strong ties with close friends, or bonding capital. If social networking builds strong ties with friends then romantic relationships can be strengthened as well by letting the public know that the user is in and is committed to an ongoing relationship...