Social Media and More

Creating Personalities and Brands on the Web

How Networking Online Benefits Relationships

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The Huntington News, the Independent Student Newspaper of Northeastern University recently interviewed me on the subject of how Internet networking benefits relationships. In the article, Marian Daniells talks about the positive relationships that develop when technology is used to supplement human interaction.

I have personally experienced this when someone who was following me on Twitter came to a book signing of mine where we met in real life. I’ve also developed wonderful friendships from people I have met on Facebook and Twitter as a result of speaking at social media conferences.

I believe in casting a wide net for both business and romantic relationships through the use of social networking. The healthiest relationships are a result of both online and offline communications.

Cyber-dating expert Julie Spira said she has witnessed the positive and negative effects the Internet can have on relationships.

“The Internet can be used as a tool to enhance your life,” she said.

Spira, who helped host September’s Social Media Week in Los Angeles, first created an online profile in 1994. Since then, she has been on “hundreds and hundreds” of dates, received four marriage proposals and learned of the many hazards of online communication.

In her book, “The Perils of Cyber-Dating,” released in September, Spira aims to inform dating site users — particularly women — of the many “red flags” of online dating. There are a lot of risks, Spira said, who claims that misrepresentation is a common problem.

According to her research, she said women often lie about their age and weight in their online profiles, hoping to appear more appealing by representing themselves as younger and thinner. Similarly, she observed, men often inflate their salaries and shorter men typically claim to be two inches taller.

“A third of men online that claim to be single are married or just separated,” said Spira. “It’s important to take time to talk to people, to see if their stories add up.”

The recently-released movie “Catfish” is a documentary-thriller about New York-based photographer Nev Shulman who engaged in a long-distance romantic relationship with a woman he met on the Internet. Eventually, he discovered that the woman he was actually talking to was a married middle-aged woman who used a stranger’s photos as her own and represented herself as her own, non-existent daughter, a 20-something amateur model. She created and monitored numerous accounts, some of fictitious people and some based on actual people.

As it turns out, the twenty-something that Shulman thought he was getting involved with was a bored Midwestern housewife with three kids.

But despite the “red flags” and perils of online dating like those in “Catfish,” Spira said the Internet is still an important — and beneficial — tool.

“It’s a combination of romantic and social networking,” Spira said, citing business relationships she has formed with men she’s met online. In one case, she was introduced to an agent by a “failed date.”

Drawing a simile between romantic networking online and sending out resumes, Spira said the Internet is “a way to expand your social and business networks.”

Spira, acknowledging the risks associated with online communication, said that it’s important to transition relationships from online to offline as soon as possible.

“You need to use the Internet as a tool,” she said.

But sometimes, she said, people build trust with those they’ve never met and share private information, including deeply personal beliefs or financial information.

“It can be risky,” Spira said.

Click here to read full article on The Huntington News>>>


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