Is the Internet Making Us Less Intimate?

Hand with flowers coming out of laptop screen

Online dating sites offer the opportunity to connect with another person, or several people, virtually. Members can send messages, check out other members’ photos, and determine if they feel connected to someone based on profiles, all without uttering a word or making eye contact. Many people who are uncomfortable or anxious in social settings prefer this dating method. But according to Dr. Craig Malkin, an author and clinical psychologist, this type of cyber distance could be contributing to anxiety and making people more fearful of in-person intimacy.

In a recent article, Malkin explains that avoiding anxious situations, like meeting people, can exacerbate anxiety. When someone who is fearful never confronts the object of the fear, it looms larger in the person’s mind. By avoiding face time—person to person—with friends, coworkers, neighbors, and potential partners, we never give ourselves the opportunity to diffuse our fears. If we turn to the virtual world of video games, pornography, or online dating, we get excitement, gratification, and no risk. This payoff eventually becomes addictive and makes it more difficult to engage in real-life interactions, Malkin said. In real life, of course, relationships have risks.

Just as some individuals use alcohol to tame their insecurities and pain, others use the Internet. In fact, some research has suggested that the rising use of technology is partly responsible for declining marriage rates. Malkin realizes that everyone is somewhat anxious about sharing their hearts with another person. But turning to technology could be fueling their fear. Malkin believes that connecting with others is a choice. “In the end, that’s the only way any of us can nurture healthy relationships and intimacy—by being mindful of our choices to turn toward or away from the people we love,” he said.

Malkin, Craig. How technology makes us afraid of intimacy. (n.d.): n. pag. The Huffington Post. 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 27 Sept. 2012.

© Copyright 2012 by Sarasota Bureau - All Rights Reserved.

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  • skylar

    October 8th, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    it’s easier to feel disconnected from others when you are not face to face
    that’s what the internet has done to us
    i feel there is a serious lack of intimacy in society as a result

  • Xavier

    October 8th, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    In general I think that society as a whole has become a whole lot less caring and concerned for one another. we have more access to one another and yet the distance between us keeps growing and growing.

  • anne f

    October 8th, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    while it has its own advantages and pluses the internet has certainly brought a fall in the personal aspect of meeting or conversing with people.this may be dismissed as old folk talk but it is true.certainly tuning the young lot in a way much different than their parents in terms of social interaction.

  • Duke

    October 9th, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    But hasn’t it opened us up to the whole world?
    Doesn’t that count for something?
    How could something that gives us more accessibility to so many more people actually make us less willing to be intimate with each other?

  • Kelvin Adams

    October 9th, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Personally I have found that the more we go online and look for another reality, the less we have a way of relating to the real people already in our lives. We become so distracted by what we find online that reality kind of begins to pale in comparison. If you no longer prefer the person sitting right beside you over the ones you see on a screen then naturally that is going to be an overwhelming problem that very few relationships can recover from.

  • Gracie

    October 11th, 2012 at 4:36 AM

    not so easy to be intimate with someone from who knows where that you see as just a username and made up avatar
    i can see the lure of this kind of anonymity, especially when this is behavior that would otherwise be considered anti social or even taboo
    but i can also see how the development of these tendencies could be unhealthy in other parts of your life, causing you to shun the real world over those online fantasis that you have created
    it becomes a very dangerous situation if you don’t exactly know the best way to keep those two worlds straight and separate form one another

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