How can I transfer my 'online communication skills' to the real world?
February 15, 2009 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How can I transfer my 'online communication skills' to the real world?

Hey hive-
Well I think I'm one of those people who lost all my IRL communication skills, but use to internet to make up for it.. But what's funny is I'm actually a good communicator, it's just that it never comes out in person cause I can't get past a certain wall..

It feels like, online, time speeds up.. I do online in a few days what would take me 6 months in person.. going from that initial meeting, where it's all small talk, getting to know, to exposing an insecurity, to realizing they too have an insecurity, to feeling better and more confident because that part has gotten out of the way, then back to just being normal and happy..

That's sort of been the process I've met all these people online. Yes it's usually a dating scenario.. and usually it's meeting on sites like myspace or sites where 'dating' isn't really the purpose.. But the routine is always the same: I just make a profile w/ a picture and only list things like music interests and send somebody a message.. they reply (obviously based on picture alone) and we start emailing.. I guess I try to find people(also, based on picture alone) who I sort of read into.. like I can spot out just by a picture that this person has insecurities, or is somewhat like myself.. and 99% I been right, because as we start emailing, I slowly expose things like.. how my social life isn't exactly going too great.. or I hint at the fact I'm somewhat shy or just.. you know, like I have this odd kind of pesonality..

And then they reply back, at this point trusting me and starting to feel like I'm genuine and .. (maybe interested?).. they begin to show their weak side too.. and I gotta admit it's like I NEED that. Even tho I know.. everyone has insecurities.. yadda yadda.. I need to hear it.. maybe that's my true insecurity, that I need to know they are too.

I must of met around 50 people and it's been the same thing over and over. Out of that maybe half we ended up either dating or a small fling, but every one felt right.. and if it ended it was just because it ended. Like real world dating.. 4 of them became long term lasting a year or so..


So.. I guess my point is, I can't feel comfortable with someone until they show their weak side.. and IRL, people put on that 'happy side' because that's how it is.. nobody meets someone in person and immediately starts talking about their insecurities.. That doesn't happen until you've known each other a while. But until then, you gotta be all, you know.. just be fun and funny, and like everything's going so damn well..

I'm just sick of that cause I feel like, why not just get it out of the way??? But again, that's just human nature. So online, I feel like you can just totally bypass that.. because of the nature of typing on a computer screen.. It's as if I learned all the nuances and how to do it in a way that's not creepy.. like all these things I read about in these self-help communication books.. I'm doing those in the emails, in this little microcosm which takes place over a short time.. but that doesn't translate into real world communicating, where there's "rituals" involved.. like keeping things lowkey at first, like making that initial period simply a two-strangers having fun period..


So in person, I meet people, but I STAY in that happy, I'm-so-content-and-normal, fun side of me. And the other person does too.. But then almost immediately, I start feeling like, I don't have the energy to keep this up. So I begin to fade away from them. I don't feel a comfort that I can start exposing this "serious" side, that I'm not really.. that I got issues.. of course that would be a turn-off..

But I guess that's my point, I learned how to do it online w/out being a turnoff. In real life, it'll come out ugly.. insecure, not cool, boring..

(Because w/ all the people I met online, after that part gets out of the way.. I'm totally normal and fun.. back to my REAL self)
posted by 0217174 to Human Relations (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it is possible to speed up significantly your offline relationships, so that you can go from meeting someone to exposing your vulnerabilities and getting to know them really well in a short period of time, without alienating and creeping people out.

There's a reason you're able to expose your vulnerabilities and get to know people well online in a shorter period of time --- it's a pseudo-intimacy, an intimacy without the consequences that intimacy has in real life. In the non-online world, we are vulnerable to each other in ways that we aren't vulnerable online. We're insulated by the fact that we are communicating through text, not through physical presence and up-close personal sharing.

Lots of people who are timid and insecure become raging assholes and trolls online, because they are protected from the consequences of such communication. Similarly, you're able to create a form of intimacy quickly because you're protected from certain consequences of early intimacy.

I think you should stop trying to transfer the pace of online relationships to your in-person relationships. People's expectations are different in different kinds of relationships. I think you are correct in believing that you will alienate and irritate people by sharing so much, early on.

Some people, in non-online life, share way too much, way too early, and it can come across as reflective of weirdness and possibly mental illness.
posted by jayder at 2:32 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can totally understand wanting to lay it all down up-front so both people know what kind of person they're dealing with and you don't have to waste yor time getting to know someone for months and THEN be rejected because of something that you waited to share. Not sure if this'll help but here are some suggestions:

Try to have a half-online/half-IRL relationship with people - if you met them IRL, get their sn and talk to them online and email them as well as hang out with them in real life. Your relationship might progress online and you can be normal around them when you do see them in real life.

Or, try to recreate online-type conversations in real life. I notice that a lot of conversations that make me feel closer to people online are ones involving taking turns asking random questions, or playing word association, or trading stories. You can do the same thing in real life and quickly steer the conversation in a more intimate direction. Just make sure that you don't only ask weird questions like that, that might seem creepy... so try to include them in a conversation instead of bringing things up out of the blue all the time.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:03 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Even though there are obviously differences between online and RL communication (body language, timing, etc), I think it is absolutely possible to get to know someone as quickly as you wish in real life.

But there are two caveats I can think of right away:

1) Online, you're already doing a lot of "filtering" before you even start talking to the person, by looking at their profiles. So you're already improving your chances of getting along.

You say you've met 50 people -- well, how many people have you skimmed the profiles of and then NOT contacted? it's probably a lot more, right? So if you want the same experience in real life, you're going to have to: a) meet a lot of people who aren't what you're looking for; b) pick places to work & hang out that cater to "your type".

2) Do you know why people are reluctant to open up and talk about their vulnerabilities in person? Because they expect that the people they're talking to don't want to hear about them. Which is generally true. (Online, it's more like talking to yourself. You don't see how the other person is reacting to your words with their expressions, body language, etc.)

But if you come across as someone who's interested in those things, who might offer good advice, and who's willing to be open about their own issues--in an intelligent, non-depressing way--then they'll reciprocate.

Good luck :)
posted by zerolucid at 11:23 AM on February 17, 2009

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