Thursday, April 18, 2013

Princess Lea vs. Lea

The internet has really changed not only our lives, but our own and others' perceptions of our lives. 

Being, at first, a mere reader of blogs, I was always surprised when I met the writers in person. The mental construct I had erected of them, the same as I would any fictional character in a beloved novel, would collapse in a heap of shoddy workmanship. They were nothing, and I mean nothing, how I envisioned them.
That lesson has made me wary as to my own blog, that there are others out there painting an inaccurate portrait of me based on the washed-out hues of my own personality that I choose to dispense. 

The internet is also a wonderful buffer. People whom one probably could not stand in real life are now quite tolerable. How many fellow bloggers would I choose to socialize with in real life, and vice versa? I'm guessing not many.

These two concepts are my reasons for being online-dating averse; anyone, including myself, can mindlessly present not themselves, but who they would like to be. 

But we do not date our idealized selves. We date the human, messy aspect of ourselves, the ones who make a flubbed remark, or the joke that is misinterpreted, but there is also the light in the eyes that bespeaks glimmering intelligence

Anita Felicelli wrote of her long road that led to her soulmate, which began through many, many years of emails after an initial meeting. At that first encounter she thought she was in love. 
When we first met in the summer of 2001 at a writing festival in Iowa, Steven was a muscular, well-read, tattooed 30-something with a strong Chicago accent. I was a 24-year-old law student in a bad relationship. My first thought when I saw him was: This is the man I’m going to marry.
Then he opened his mouth, and I changed my mind. 
After a few more meetings, devoid of sparks, she figured their relationship was safely in the "friend-zone," and they conversed electronically. Following years of online communication, where they depicted themselves with halo-a'glowing, they eventually moved in together to form a business partnership. 

As you might expect, when Steven moved in, we were no longer our ideal selves. We got to know each other in real life instead of through words on a screen. Rather than drive us apart, though, this confrontation with reality brought us together. 
The way we date, neatly dressed and pressed with polite "Shabbos faces" onthat should only be the initial stage. True knowledge of another doesn't happen until one lives with them, but exposure to those little likes and dislikes is what a true relationship is about.  
When e-mailing back and forth, we were perfect, constructed versions of ourselves with no chemistry. What we didn’t know was how much we still didn’t know about each other. Living together, I found out just how sports crazy Steven is, how he checks 50 times a day and drafts multiple fantasy football teams. He found out that I stream “Pretty Little Liars,” spend too much money and avoid doing the dishes. We fought. We made up. Our small press thus far has been a bit of a bust. 
Steven thinks that it was the email exchanges that reflected their true selves. Nah.
There are countless things I never would have predicted we would tolerate in each other in person, having nothing to do with the novels and art that originally connected us. Nine years after our first e-mail, we fell in love, and the next year, we married. Instead of a successful press, we have a daughter who is 7 months old.
What changed? When Steven tells the story of us, he claims that correspondence over those many years bound us together. Really knowing each other occurred through the written form, even though falling in love happened in person. 
But I believe that seeing the messiness and imperfection in each other day after day sparked our chemistry. Even in the age of the Internet, when we’re inundated with information and knowledge, love is old-fashioned. It graces us in person, deepens with time, and remains a mystery.        


Elisheva said...

This begs the question - what is a person's genuine side? The eloquently-written beautifully-expressed and sentimental side that is shown through writing? Or the messy, ugly human side you only see in person?

I think the latter.

I can't imagine how online dating could work when it's exclusively through email or IM. In the history of online dating, I can't even fathom how many people were completely fooled by their partner's online persona.
The ability to write a sappy poem or intellectual blog post is great - but I would be worried about any relationship that has that as its basis...

The Beckster said...

Very true. I once had this experience where I communicated with a guy through e-mail. We initially "met" online. I was head over heels after reading a few of his e-mails. They were long, thought-out, sweet, and a pleasure to read. I met him in person. Guess what didn't work out after the first date. He was, shall we say, "interesting." ("Interesting" clearly being a euphemisim for "very, very strange").
On a different topic, I always wondered what this little community of 20-something frum bloggers are like in real life? Haha. I think we should have a convention or something of that nature. I can plan it!

FrumGeek said...

Hey, I'd be up for it! :)

I actually wrote something like this once:

Princess Lea said...

Elisheva: You put it very well. Our true selves is the messy, ugly, humanity. Life can be expressed in the typed word, but not lived.

Beck: Ah, an anecdote to prove my point!

As for the convention, what if we can't stand each other in real life? At least now we get along. :P

Princess Lea said...

FG: I remember that one. And that's what it comes down to; if anyone thinks they know me through my blog, sorry, you don't.

The Professor said...

I never like the idea of online dating. Both sides have this online persona which they then have to work to keep up afterwards even if it isn't exactly who they are. Either that, or they have to convince the other side about who they " really" are. I dated a girl I met online (a blogger actually), it seemed good at the get go, but then after a little bit, at least for me it turned into the sorta thing I mentioned earlier in the comment. People who read my blog very often feel im extremely cold. I am / can be. But i also have a very nice side to me. As we had met online, there had to be sort of a convincing process that im "normal" as well, which then leads to overkill and waaay too much pressure. In person people are just never the same as they are online.

Anonymous said...

Professor - Altie, right? I knew it!

The Professor said...

"Sorry" anon, but no. I have never dated Altie.

Princess Lea said...

Prof: Precisely.