Wow, this got off to a good start!
I was going to just talk about the topic that inspired the blog's title, but the comments made by Nico, Fred and Ev are worthy of a new discussion.
We refer to a concept of social behavior as "relationships" without specifying much about what that means. Interactions between friends, interaction between acquaintances, interaction between strangers, and the ever daunting term "A Relationship" all seem to escape concrete boundaries despite their constantly popping up in discussions.
It's difficult to say whether seeing a person is more important than talking to them, whether talking with a keyboard is less valuable than talking with vocal cords, without talking about what it is about "relationships" that's valuable.
So...what is it about "relationships" that's valuable? Why do we seek them? What are the qualities of a good one? Is it more important to have many or a few intense ones?
The internet added a new level of compartmentalization to relationships. We can experience only voluntary information from other people. We receive nothing that they don't offer and can extract next to nothing without their knowing. Does that mean electronic social interaction is less genuine or more so? Does the fact that people may be uncomfortable around other's physical bodies reveal that they are unable to relate to real people, or that they have become used to intimacy at another level?
What are the ramifications of vluntary electronic socializing on the concept of "romance"?
What has electronic culture taught us about what is really important when it comes to people?
(is that too many questions for a single post?)