At the recommendation of a blog I read quite regularly, I logged onto youtube last night and watched a full-length feature film called "Four Eyed Monsters". You'll find the link to it here.
The title refers to people in relationships - they have four eyes, two mouths, eight limbs etc. And the film explores the challenges of forming and sustaining personal relationships that begin online. The main male character refers to the internet basically as a weapon of "creative lubrication", where you can really project whatever version of yourself that you'd like - and it makes you view others in a way that you want to view them, not necessarily the way that they really are. And of course, that is both liberating and potentially destructive at the same time.
The characters in the film meet in a chatroom and then decide that they want to meet up for real. The girl is cynical about online dating, so she encourages the guy to come to the restaurant where she works and meet her there. He has already tracked her down and followed her a bit, taking video footage of her as he goes. A bit creepy perhaps, yet she gets a good vibe from him, and agrees to go on a date with him. But they are both a little wary of giving too much of themselves in person, so they decide to have a silent date, where they sit with one another and write messages to each other on a pad of paper, rather than actually talk. In this way, they are mirroring what an internet romance is all about - sharing bits of info about yourself with another person, but just not out loud. And then one of the characters freaks out when he realises that he may not be equipped to have an 'out loud' relationship with his girlfriend and he projects those insecurities on to her. What happens next makes for really interesting viewing.
I can remember having an internet relationship some years ago. I caught up with some online friends in Sydney (which was my first visit to that City, as it turns out). We came together there from all corners of Australia and it was really fun. But I hooked up with a guy from Melbourne who I had been chatting to and phoning for some weeks before. As far as I was concerned, we were close friends but I wasn't expecting anything to happen in Sydney.
Well you can imagine that after a few drinks at the Penrith Panthers Rugby Leagues Club (yep, you read that right), the Kissing Bandit was unleashed but seriously that's all that happened. When I got back home, and two separate florists simulteaneously wandered down my driveway with armloads of flowers and teddy bears from this admirer, my father laughed hysterically - but somewhat cautiously, as I recall. There is something weird about getting flowers like that at breakfast time on a Saturday morning, with your family sitting around the kitchen table.
So I called to thank the guy for the lovely flowers and gifts, never really sure what I was going to say after that. When the guy said that he had made the decision to move to my home town to be with me, I realised I had to nip things in the bud. He had no job there, no family, just me. I didn't want to lead him on like that, so I told him it wasn't a good idea to do that just for me. We chatted a bit more beyond that and he took it all well; never once was he mad with me; never said that horrible "you've led me on" stuff that would have made things waaay more awkward. And I think he realised that the decision was simply a knee-jerk reaction to a great weekend spent in Sydney. He never did move after all.
So you can see why "Four Eyed Monsters" struck a real chord for me; I really enjoyed it. The film isn't full of special effects, explosions, swearing, etc. It's a clever movie with a mix of video recording and animation that was really well put together. It takes a while to load on youtube, but I thought it was well worth the effort. You should check it out.