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Love Online: Emotions on the Internet

Author: Aaron Ben-Ze'ev
Publisher: Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004
Review Published: April 2006

 REVIEW 1: Mary Chayko
 AUTHOR RESPONSE: Aaron Ben-Ze'ev

I agree with the main points of Professor Chayko's excellent review, and my response will therefore be brief; it will focus on her main criticism in regard to the methodology of my research and the origin of the many quotes I inserted in the book. I would like to point out that the work is more of a theoretical nature, providing a novel conceptual framework for understanding online relationships and exploring relevant new ideas. As such, it is not an empirical study that intends to prove a specific point. Most of the quotes are taken from various websites in which people describe their personal online experiences and from books that interviewed people on this issue. The main purpose of the quotes is to illustrate and clarify my ideas; they did not intend to prove them. Generally, a new conceptual framework and the ideas presented should be proven both by various theoretical considerations (as was done in this book) and by many empirical, detailed experiments (to be undertaken in the future by various scholars).

Professor Chayko writes that she was left with a real curiosity as to the kinds of recommendations I would make following my analysis of romantic relationships. Some recommendations are implied in the last chapter, which deals with the future of romantic relationships. A more detailed analysis (and implied recommendations) will be part of the book I am now writing: In The Name of Love (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). This latter volume, written with Rhuama Goussinsky, discusses the ambivalent nature of love, including its negative aspects. After criticizing the idealized notion of love, we propose a more realistic notion that is also more flexible and less restrictive. This view takes into account the new romantic possibilities provided by cyberspace. Accepting such a novel notion would require a lengthy process of modifying our moral and social norms, but it might eventually reduce the extent of harm resulting from common beliefs about idealized love.

Aaron Ben-Ze'ev

<benzeev@research.haifa.ac.il>

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