The Role of the Internet
So far, we have explored common forms of communication, in this section we will investigate the newest form of communication, the Internet. In a study, "The Face of the Web", the Angus Reid Group found that more than 300 million people are using the Internet and 150 million more will do so this year. They also found that 59 percent of the United States population regularly use the Internet, this represents 39 percent of Internet usage worldwide. Although the US is currently the leader in Internet usage, the trend is quickly catching on in many other countries.
The Angus Reid Group study also revealed that adoption rates are very high once users have logged on, people begin using the Internet for many reasons in addition to those that originally made them connect. They have even begun using it as a means of meeting people, there are many sites on which you can enter a "chat room" and talk privately or in a group. This method of communication rules out all non-verbal communication, people can only express themselves with written words. Internet communication forces people to be much more expressive with their writing and leaves much room for interpretation from others. This makes the Internet a very interesting form of communication.
Along with the trend of meeting people on the Internet, there are new "matchmaking" sites, which could change the face of dating, as we know it. This new way of starting a relationship is vastly different than that of the past. A completely different courtship process is inherent to meeting people on the Internet. People may communicate several times strictly by electronic mail or letter mail before ever speaking. It is also common with Internet dating for people to consider the prospect of a serious relationship before actually meeting someone. This is a far cry from the "standard" form of courtship, which usually begins upon meeting a person.
Hundreds of sites on the Internet are dedicated to helping people find that special someone. Not only are these sites becoming more popular but they are starting to cover a much broader cultural base. Just by searching for a few hours, it was possible to find over twenty sites that were strictly interested in matching American men with Russian women. Some of these sites were questionable, charging men a fee to get the addresses of women in Russia who are interested in marrying American men. However, quite a few of the sites were non-profit, most started by American-Russian couples wanting to help others.
Knowing of these sites poses an interesting question… is the Internet broadening our relationship possibilities culturally? With the number of Internet users growing daily and the vast possibilities it offers, the answer is undoubtedly yes. We must also assert that with the amount of knowledge it is possible for us to access on the Internet, we are becoming more open to other cultures simply because of exposure. The Internet is one of the only things that ties many of our cultures together. It will certainly, at least, make us more open and aware of multi-cultural relationship opportunities. With the growing number of multi-cultural relationships that the Internet is making possible, it is beneficial to be aware of the cultural differences in relationship mannerisms and expectations that were previously explored in this paper. Not only is the Internet exposing us to new cultures, it is making communication and relationships possible between cultures.