This empirical study explores how a group of Jakartans1 use the Internet as a communication tool to broaden their social network, and how the Internet opens the possibilities for finding romance. The Internet overcomes the space limitation in communication, therefore the subjects use it to meet people that they never met in real life before. With phenomenological approach, this research is focusing on examining how five Jakartans use computer-mediated communication (CMC) for their socialization needs. Each of the subject in this study is entangled in different background situations, and it influenced how she/he used the Internet for CMC, and make media selections.
Drawing on two months’ of field work in Jakarta Indonesia, the data collected from qualitative semi-structured interviews and CMC messages demonstrates the intimacy between the subjects and their online lovers. The elements that exist in common offline relationships (sharing hopes, joy, sadness, fear, lust, etc.) are also being shared among the online couples in this study. This points out that although all of the interactions within the relationships (in this research) are mediated, the communication technology allows the subjects and their partners to overcome the distance barrier in order to establish and maintain their online romantic relationship.
By using early theories of computer-mediated communication (Social Presence, Social Context Cues, and Media Richness) I try to explain the role of communication tools in enhancing the subjects’ relationships.