Internet Romance: Reality or Mirage? - The New Indian Express

Internet Romance: Reality or Mirage?

Published: 28th April 2014 08:01 AM

Last Updated: 28th April 2014 03:47 PM


Happily ever after

Social media has made life so much easier for the tech savvy lot. When you can catch up with long lost friends, share opinions, flaunt accomplishments and promote businesses online, why not take a shot at finding love in there too? City Express shares the digital love stories of couples who crossed paths on the Internet.

Veethika, a graphic artist from Gandhinagar, was looking for someone who could help her with getting Oriya fonts. That is when she came across Subhashish Panigrahi, a programme officer based in Bangalore, on Facebook. They became friends and started interacting frequently. One day, they decided to meet up and love blossomed between them.

“We had a lot of common interests and we always had something to talk about. It is hard to say when we started falling for each other,” says Subhashish.

“Facebook gives people who are not so confident about themselves an opportunity to create an alluring online identity. It is easier to make friends that way than by meeting people face-to-face. However, with Veethika, I had no surprises. She was the same girl I had known online when I met her in person,” he laughs. The couple have known each other for a year now, and are engaged to be married.

When Jacob met Radhika (names changed) on Facebook 10 years ago, they were living in different cities. He was pursuing a career in marketing, while she was still in college. Six months of chatting and phone calls later, the couple were inseparable and in love. Jacob relocated to multiple cities where Radhika was pursuing higher studies and the relationship thrived on their need to be with each other. However, after about four years, they suffered a break up due to the vast differences in their family backgrounds.

Struggling to mend a broken heart, Jacob decided to get hitched to another woman whom he met on Bharat Matrimony. While all arrangements were made, he fell seriously ill on the day before the wedding. As fate would have it, he suffered from renal failure and was put on dialysis. Unwilling to give their daughter away to a dying man, the girl’s parents called off the wedding. “I was ill, I had no money and my fiancee had left me too. My father donated his kidney to save my life. Just when I thought I had lost everything, Radhika came back to me,” says Jacob.

The couple got back together, as Radhika took care of him and helped him recover. After multiple twists and turns, the love story of the duo is still going strong. While the task of convincing the girl’s parents still lies ahead of them, Jacob is hoping for yet another miracle.

“We were very serious about being with each other right from the beginning. That is the deal with Facebook. It mirrors your intention. People who look to mess with others are the ones who misuse the technology,” he says.

Savitha, a city-based journalist, met the love of her life through her blog. Karthik , then a copywriter from Chennai, would comment on her posts, and the duo engaged in discussions on various topics on each other’s blogs.

The exchange of ideas sparked an interesting friendship between them and one day, they decided to meet. “He was waiting outside my workplace to meet me. I told him the colour that I was wearing, and he stood there staring at every woman who passed by wearing the same colour. It was so cute. And when I came down to see him, we recognised each other instantly. He was very handsome, to my surprise and delight,” Savitha reminisces.

“He only had 45 minutes to spend with me, as he had a train to catch. However, that meeting brought us a lot closer. We started seeing each other every 15 days after that,” she smiles. The couple decided to get married after eight months of courtship, and it worked out well for them that they belonged to the same caste. They have been together for 10 years now.

“The Internet is like the modern-day version of the coffee houses of the18th century England. It is a great forum to exchange ideas, brainstorm, make friends and find love. I met my husband on the Internet, and we continue to share a great relationship and remain the best of friends too,” Savitha says.

In 2006, 20-year-old Swati met one of her friends’ cousin Varun on Orkut, a social networking site that used to be popular before the advent of Facebook. Chats and text messages led them to meet after Swati’s evening computer classes.

“We would go on dates to Corner House or Barista in JP Nagar. I used to secretly wonder if he was interested in me at all, while he did the same with me. Then one day, he sent me a text asking me to marry him,” she gushes. “I freaked out at first. But then, I wanted the same thing, so I said yes.”

The couple have been married for seven years now and have a three-year-old son.

To trust or not to trust?

While the happy stories make us want to believe in the boon that is social networking, there are stories that did not end well. The recent report about a man killing his Facebook lover and committing suicide sends a chill down the spine.

Vineet Singh, an unemployed youth from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, had been chatting with Jyoti Kori, who had posed as a 21-year-old to get his attention. The couple were in touch for over two years and had decided to meet one day. When he found out that Jyoti was actually a 45-year-old mother of three, he shot her in disappointment and anger. Soon, he shot himself and breathed his last.

Jyoti had used an actress’s photo as her display picture and had managed to keep her identity a secret.

A similar incident involved 48-year-old Marathi actress Alka Punewar who went missing, and was found in a hotel in Chennai with her 27-year-old boyfriend Alok Paliwal. The actress had met Paliwal on a social networking site four years ago and was having an extra marital affair with him. The couple had attempted to fake Punewar’s death in order to live together secretly. The Property Cell of the Crime Branch tracked Punewar’s mobile phone records and traced her location to Chennai.

“One-third of crimes reported these days are cyber crimes, but they are not often reported to the Cyber Crime Cell,” says Roopa D, DIG, CID.

“We get complaints about Facebook friends misusing passwords, personal information and photographs. Sometimes, separated couples tend to post offensive messages about each other online or misuse information shared out of trust,” she says. Stalking, sending abusive messages, trolling are some of the by-products of the vulnerability that being on social media subjects people to.

“In such a situation, it is wise to exercise caution while interacting with strangers on the Internet,” she advises.

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