The Virtual Community begins with Rheingold telling the reader how he used the online parenting virtual community WELL to help in an emergency at home. What he emphasizes in this retelling is how he got the solution to his problem from the community quicker than he would have using health professionals. From there, Rheingold tells the reader how many topics are covered in online communities and no matter what kind of person one is, there is something that they are very interested in and will speak profusely about it. He displays how WELL can be a place of solace using the story of a Massachusetts family whose daughter had a tracheostomy and another family whose son developed acute lymphatic leukemia. He also displays how even though virtual communities are people behind computers, they can still socialize. Rheingold does this through recounting few get-togethers WELL hosted in the California area. He then goes on to recount how WELL tackled other subjects ranging from addiction to upgrading one’s own personal computer.
The perceived audience from the text is thought to be adults and in particular parents. They are the audience because WELL is a parent online community and most of the topics are something most families may face. The purpose of this text may have been to show that even the most isolated and alienated individual can find support in these communities. Rheingold may have written this text for families that have “bad neighbors” or have difficulty socializing with people with this purpose in mind.
I thought the text was really informative. I never thought of the internet as somewhere you can make genuine friends. I am used to forums and online gaming platforms in which I interact with other people. They were usually thought of as people I play with or discuss things with. Rheingold surprised me when he talked about the WELL picnic and how they all came together. Also, I never thought of the internet and online communities detrimental to one’s...
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