Can virtual love replace real human interaction? Scientists say no

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Scientists Say Virtual Love Can't Replace Actual Human Interaction

CHICAGO (WGN) -– The 1980s brought us video dating. In the 90s, we were dialing up to find love with the emergence of online dating.

Then there were hookup apps like Tinder that are connecting people with the swipe of a smartphone.

SEE ALSO: An artist illustrated every single day he spent with his beloved wife in 365 adorable drawings

But are we too buried in our devices to notice the people around us?

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Can virtual love replace real human interaction? Scientists say no
The Oculus VR Inc. Rift headset is displayed for a photograph during the 'Step Into The Rift' event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Facebook Inc.'s Oculus virtual-reality headsets will work with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 10 and use the software maker's wireless Xbox game controller. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16: Oculus emplyoee Patrick Hercamp (R) helps set up the virtual reality head-mounted display Oculus Rift CV1 on John Peters (L) at the Annual Gaming Industry Conference E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Convention Center will be hosting the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16: Game enthusiast, Jacob Mix, tests out the virtual reality head-mounted display Oculus Rift CV1 at the Annual Gaming Industry Conference E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Convention Center will be hosting the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18: A Rift VR headset is on display at the Oculus VR booth during E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18: A Rift VR headset is on display at the Oculus VR booth during E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 21: Singer-songwriter Usher tries Oculus Rift at the Pencils Of Promise Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 21: Singer-songwriter Usher tries Oculus Rift at the Pencils of Promise gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Westfield introduces world first Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headsets ahead of 'Future Fashion' an immersive pop-up experience at Westfield London on March 12, 2015 in London, England. Future Fashion will take place at Westfield London from 27-29 March and Westfield Stratford City from 2-4 April. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Westfield)
BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 23: BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 23: A video gaming fan play games with a Oculus Rift Head-Mounted Display at the Gamefest during the International Games Week Berlin trade fair on April 23, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The International Games Week Berlin highlights trends in video gaming but also brings together industry professionals from April 21-26 at events across the city. (Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images) (Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: The Oculus VR Crescent Bay Headset prototype is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The immersive, virtual reality headset is meant to be a consumer version of the Oculus Rift and features 360-degree head tracking and high-quality integrated audio. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
An attendee wears an Oculus Rift HD virtual reality head-mounted display at he plays EVE: Valkyrie, a multiplayer virtual reality dogfighting shooter game, at the Intel booth at the 2014 International CES, January 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO /ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 23: A video gaming fan play games with a Oculus Rift Head-Mounted Display at the Gamefest during the International Games Week Berlin trade fair on April 23, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The International Games Week Berlin highlights trends in video gaming but also brings together industry professionals from April 21-26 at events across the city. (Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Westfield introduces world first Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headsets ahead of 'Future Fashion' an immersive pop-up experience at Westfield London on March 12, 2015 in London, England. Future Fashion will take place at Westfield London from 27-29 March and Westfield Stratford City from 2-4 April. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Westfield)
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Professor Florence Chee is the director of the social interactive media lab at Loyola University.

"When newspapers first came out, there was a widespread concern that we would no longer talk to one another. well clearly this is not the case. We're still talking with one another, we're just using these different forms of communication to link us socially," said Chee.

And these days, we're not just talking to other humans - we're socializing with virtual people.

In 2013, the BBC profiled a group of Japanese men who are in romantic relationships with video game characters. And virtual reality is taking things even further these days with virtual worlds.

Put on a headset and you can enter places like the Utherverse, where people are dating avatars - even getting married in virtual weddings.

So looking to the future with the advances and spread of VR, will we even need to interact face to face, flesh to flesh anymore?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of "Kosher Sex and Kosher Lust." Much of his work focuses on how we can make the most of our relationships.

"Any technology that enhances and facilitates greater closeness between a man and a woman in love is a good thing," he said.

"We can't allow it to compromise intimacy. We can't allow feelings of awkwardness to develop in the relationship. We have to look someone in the eye and talk to them, because we become addicted, accustomed to communicated through the impersonal avenue of technology, so it's about values," he added.

And then there is artificial intelligence. Take the movie "Her," where a man falls in love with his computer operating system.

What if we could create the ultimate match for ourselves, even a robot that we could physically touch?

Professor Eli Finkel is the director of the Relationships and motivation lab at Northwestern University. He believes that no matter how advanced the tech gets, it will never replace the pleasure that comes from pursuing another imperfect human being.


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