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A very reasoned and fair look at a very emotional issue. You are right, it is instinctive to want to maintain our own sense of control over the reality around us. In an on line world that is not only difficult, it is in many ways impossible.

Having been on both sides of the coin, the target of suspicion only very recently, I can say that neither side is a particularly pleasant spot to be in. I think for myself, and for my co authors at our site, the only fair, and therefore only option when there is doubt, is to raise it only if it is more than doubt. In other words, when it becomes fact, or when it has a very clearly injurious potential for another. Which really, is how I think most of us react in our everyday lives as it is.

The difference here I think is that if one is wrong in the accusation, unlike the "real world", the damage is more severe, and the effect is for the most part permanently cast, as the options for refute are few and awkward given the venue.

Our reputations on line need to be respected by each other and treated with the tenderness one deserves, simply being a fellow human being. Until such time as that respect is clearly violated, anything less is not being fair to one another, and ultimately is under-cutting the gift that free expression combined with human connection in this form provides.

Thank you for broaching this topic.


The online world is, as you say, no different from the real one except that you are short of a few key senses.

When meeting people in real life you can see what sex they are, if they're young or old, attractive to you or not. In some respects the internet frees you from some of the problems associated with this: you have to judge people by what they say, rather than the way they look.

In real life some people are better judges of character than others. I tend to trust until I'm let down, which can lead to getting hurt. The only real difference is that it's easier to mislead people online.

Thanks, guys. This is a very intriguing subject, and I think I'm not done with it by any means. It somehow seems to address something very basic about the world we're living in right now.

Camy, you're right. The Internet is an almost paradoxical place to be. We lose the input of some senses and gain some others. The potential of developing a heightened intuitive awareness, learning not to judge by physical appearances, and ...?

i could write a book about the online relationships i've had...i started here in '97...and was quickly hooked
i've met people from here...and because i tend to idealize...the meetings were all quite disappointing :(


ps i'm writing elsewhere - if you could email me, i can tell you where

marlaine, I think that might be a book well worth writing. :)

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