A short step from communi to forni

The other day I got drawn into an interesting discussion on emotional infidelity. My first reaction was, “Eh? Wazzat?” but after it was explained to me, it made a weird kind of sense. This is a serious post, by the way, so if you’re here to snigger at misfortune, then I suggest you pay Chitty a visit instead.

It’s fairly safe to say that the internet has altered the way we interact with one another. Or is it? There are many aspects of this brave new World Wide Web that would have made poor old Aldous Huxley gibber, but other elements might have struck a familiar chord. Contact with someone on the other side of the globe (or indeed, the mountain) hardly makes us bat an eyelid+, but all that’s really changed is the technology. Communication-at-a-remove has been with us ever since some enterprising troglodyte managed to convince someone else to carry a message-bedecked rock on their behalf.

The Victorians used to conduct intensely passionate courtships using little more than pen and paper++. Putting aside the reliability of the postal service for a moment, it translates into essentially the same thing as pouring your heart out via e-mail, doesn’t it?

You may find yourself+++ telling your darkest secrets to someone with an “@” in their name. You may even discover that you share a greater degree of intimacy with that person than with your significant other. And that, in a nutshell, is emotional infidelity. Next to alcohol, it’s the primary entry drug to actual infidelity.

”But liefie, it was only a meeting of the minds. It meant nothing to me, I swear!

+ unless your monitor refresh rate is stuck on 60 Hz, in which case, you probably need to blink more
++ Kinky bunch, those Victorians.
+++ in another part of the world… Aaaarrggh! Bloody Talking Heads again. Make it stop!!

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26 thoughts on “A short step from communi to forni

  1. While I agree with the concept of emotional infidelity, I must say that for me I need to have my crowd of virtual friends to share my deepest, darkest secrets with. I suppose the difference is there are no ‘What are you wearing now?’ type conversations.

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  2. The concept of emotional infidelity seems very Orwellian to me. It is, in essense, Thought Crime. Accusations thereof tend to be the funery announcement of a dying relationship.

    The fact is that it happens anyway. The ancient Celtic name for it is “having friends”. When having friends becomes a problem for your SO, its probably time to move on. When having friends becomes a problem for you, you might want to think about why you have an emotional distance between you and your SO in the first place. You might find that you are on a road to nowhere.

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  3. salman: SO I guess you’re saying that some people are more slippery than others. You just have to make sure your girlfriend is better than that.

    jeanpant: Only if I get custody of the cockroach.

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  4. Good post. And true…one often hears these days “She met someone on the the internet” or whatever. Just in and around here i know of at least three couples that have broken up over on-line distractions. (I’m talking about real people I’ve met face to face now, there are probably much more @ people). 😉

    Rarely works out though from what I can see…half the attraction lies in the fact that there’s no one to face and no consequence if something goes wrong. Trying to avoid someone…just put ID them as spam – problem solved right?

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  5. (This can turn into a philosophical debate!)
    It becomes a tricky thing when you really start to think about it seriously and the implications thereof.
    Where does one draw the line? If what you describe IS emotional infidelity, can the same be said for talking to a close friend, writing a letter to some agony aunt in a magazine, having lustful thoughts about a girl you see on the street or thinking nasty thinks about a colleague, a stranger, someone of a different race, etc?
    Most of these thoughts are fleeting and impulsive and does not therefore amount to and actual “misdemeanor”.
    The thing is you cannot control the thought processes of others, much less your own to some extent. (I am reminded of that movie Minority Report where ppl are punished for future crimes based on the visions of a trio of psychics)
    If however you are sharing more than you should with another person and if there is an emotional distance between you and your SO, then you should move on. if you are questioning the emotional fidelity of your partner, then by having those thoughts you are probably guilty of the same.
    (I am going to stop here, way to much thinking on my part)

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  6. Interesting chitty,

    I think that if you start feeling guilty about something (for instance wanting to hide the types on conversations you have, or even the fact that you have a close e-mail “buddy”) you porbably have reason to feel guilty?

    It’s a grey area, maybe something a couple should discuss together to see what works for them?

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  7. louisa: Oh wow, the spam treatment. That’s cold. Did you and I go out with one another at some stage?

    chitty: You draw the line in the sand. C’mon, everyone knows that.

    tenmiles: 3l0qu3n7!one!

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  8. kyknoord,
    Err..I have to admit that I’ve only given that particular treatment to one person EVER. So if you’re asian and used to go by an IRC nick of dracula7 then yeah maybe? 😉

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  9. Um, does this mean you’re going to be moving again Kyk?
    No seriously – we find comfort from people where we can. Sometimes it’s with a real person, sometimes it’s with @people. It boils down to conscience. If you feel guilty about a relationship with someone, real or @, that’s a pretty good sign you’ve crossed a line, somewhere. Or you have issues and should consult a shrink.

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  10. and on the note of serious thoughts, is it possible to have just one person that fulfills all your emotional needs? Does emotional infidelity only apply to having an emotional connection to someone from the opposite sex?

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  11. Darn good topic. As a journalist, I learned early on to gut check everything I say, do and write. If my gut tells me it’s clean or good or ethical, I’m in good shape. But if it feels iffy, I stop.

    The Internet may shift the way the game is played, but it aligns nicely with my gut check method.

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  12. louisa: Okay, everything’s cool then. My IRC nick was aaaaaaaaarghmakeitstopmakeitstop.

    terri: Whereever I ‘ang my @, that’s my ‘ome.

    rev: Of course. Isn’t that obvious?

    esther: Depends which team you bat for, doesn’t it?

    katt: Can’t stand silk. It’s the thought that it’s made of something that came out of a caterpillar’s arse…

    carmi: I also have a gut check method. If my belt starts to fit snugly, I need to go on diet.

    angel: You’re too kind. No, really.

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