April 9, 2011

In Between: Online and Real Time

The difference between online and real time is an age old discussion among the BDSM community since the invention of the Internet. Ever since the words 'virtual reality' were utters a couple decades back, people are trying to make the online experience ever more 'reality reflective'. Sadly, this is an impossible task thus the term virtual. Online can replicate reality but it cannot replace it.

Real Time

Life is lived in real time. It is that simple. People's experiences reside in the here and now. No matter how much people try to implement online as a substitute for reality, the fact stands that we are 'face-to-face' people. This is something that is naturally within us.

Humans beings are designed to utilize the five senses. For those who were absent that day, these senses are sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. Our daily lives are filled with instances where these senses are put to use. And, the stronger the stimulant of the sense, the more memorable it is. A thought that sticks with me whenever I think of smell is the rancid smell of orange rinds when I go to my daughters. There is a Tropicana plant that casts an aroma for 500 yards. It is memorable to say the least.

The problem with online is that we are unable to have many of these senses provoked. In fact, taste, smell, and touch are not present in online communications. The two senses utilized are hearing and sight with the former being missing in many interactions. Therefore, no matter how much the pro-online people claim that their relationships properly reflect reality, the biological makeup of an individual proves otherwise.

The Role of Online

That does not mean that online fails to have its' place. As I wrote on countless occasions, the Internet is a wonderful tool for garnering information and interacting with people from around the world. It is a simple truth that we now have access to people we otherwise never could have found before. Today, with the click of a mouse, you can 'converse' with a total stranger on the other side of the world. This opened the BDSM community to a much larger arena. I feel this is one of the benefits of the Internet on this lifestyle.

Of course, we all know this came with a cost. The anonymity of this mechanism allows people to present themselves in a fraudulent manner. We see all kinds of scams, cons, and games played. Individuals find themselves having their lives wrecked because of the actions of these unethical morons. The sad truth is their desperation and gullibility led them to make decisions which were harmful. Warnings of what exists online are aboud yet people still fail to pay heed. Nevertheless, online interaction does have a role in the BDSM community.

In Between

Many seem to feel there are only the two extremes of either online or real time. This is something that divides the community when, in fact, many do not consider the process. When people look at things under this light, they realize that it is not an all or none. Also, one can see how one needs to move from online very quickly.

The truth is that meeting someone online creates basic logistical problems. While it is possible to meet another who is local, we find that many are from distant lands. It is common for someone to be on the other side of the country or, even, the world. How does one deal with this?

Again, I simply point to the process. The goal is to get from online to real time as quickly as possible. Logistically speaking, this might take some time. So, what other option is there? My answer is something that the traditional world, especially military personnel knew about for generations. It is called the 'long distant relationship'.

Since few can up and move in 3.2 minutes, it is best to move from an online relationship to a long distance. This means implementing traditional communications methods immediately. The Internet is one medium to use. There is also the basic telephone, letters (hand written), and in person visits. When one applies these methods to a relationship, I do not feel he or she is involved online. This situation is no consider long distance.


The problem with moving instantly from online to real time is that one truly does not know if he or she is compatible with the other person. Naturally, we can say this about all relationships but this is magnified when one is only dealing online. Since the 5 senses are not used, one cannot fully 'experience the other person. This only can be done in person. For example, some people have horrific body odor. You will not get a whiff (pun intended) of this online. Meet the individual face-to-face and you will instantly. It might be a deal breaker.

Relationships take time to develop. My experience is that it is foolhardy and senseless to go from online to real time too quickly especially if relocation is involved. Therefore, utilize the idea of a long distant relationship as a intermediate step. Apply the traditional forms of communication. Meet the person a time or two to see how he or she resides with your other senses. If you do this, you will find that your relationship is on stronger footing if you do decide to move forward.

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