To What Extent Does Online Communication Impact on Our Construction of Social Networks? Does the “Virtual Society” Actually Exist?

Topics: Virtual reality, Virtual community, Social network Pages: 5 (1296 words) Published: April 11, 2013
To what extent does online communication impact on our construction of social networks? Does the “virtual society” actually exist?

The development of the means of communication through the internet leaded to partial replacement of direct interhuman relationships, so we frequently find us facing questions related to modern communication, the way that it affects our day to day life, and the way society tends to become digitalized one day at a time.

Therefore, the concept of a virtual society is real, and it tends to be nothing more than the reflection of our basic existence.

According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, communication is “the process by which people exchange information or express their thoughts and feelings”. Being given the ascension of the online communications and facilities, we often find ourselves witnessing the creation of virtual communities and therefore, online societies are built just in front of our eyes.

Before the internet we are so familiar with today became so widespread, the networks were mainly used for communication between stations of the local network and only very few people could have proper access to it. According to S.P. Wilbur, “Recent years have seen a rapid and far-reaching expansion of the internet and its applications, with more and more people getting online. Moreover, it is doubtless that this seemingly relentless growth of the internet will engender a multitude of social political and economic impacts, both domestic and global, which must be urgently enquired into and analyzed and understood”.(“An archaeology of cyberspaces: Virtuality, community, identity” in D. Porter (ed.),Internet Culture, 1997). Therefore, what in the beginning was nothing more than a computer networking method used purely for scientifical purposes became the user friendly connecting method that made possible for all the people to access the same network, and eventually, become what we could roughly define as the “virtual society”.

Thanks to this new technology, now widely available, our access to this “brave new world” is increasingly improving, as Sherry Turkle states: “For many of us, cyberspace is now part of the routines of everyday life. When we read our electronic mail or send postings to an electronic bulletin board or make an airline reservation over a computer network, we are in cyberspace.” (Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, 1995).

Ever since it was created, cyberspace, or the virtual reality has been regarded as a reflection of our own tangible existence, or sometimes, even something completely opposite to it. In various occasions, it was even seen as a breakaway from reality, a fix to a world in which somewhere, something went wrong.

In other words, a world where anyone could be whatever they wanted, in response to the faulty reality they’re living in, the whole transformation beginning with the physical appearance, as M.Krueger argues: “In the ultimate artificial reality, physical appearance will be completely composable. You might choose on one occasion to be tall and beautiful; It would be instructive to see how changed physical attributes altered your interaction with other people. Not only people might treat you differently, but you might find yourself treating them differently as well.” (Myron W.Krueger, Artificial Reality II, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts 1991, p 256)

However, behind the virtual images created, there are real people. And regardless the medium in which interactions take place, people who share certain common interests, or are brought together by certain factors in general, form what Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines as society: “A particular large group of people who share laws, organizations, customs etc. “

The “virtual society” phenomenon started to grow once the online interactions between individuals became more life-like, facilitating the creation of an as accurate...

Bibliography: Institute of Ideas (2002) Debating Matters- The internet: Brave new world? , Hodder & Stoughton
John Dovey (1996) Fractal Dreams-New Media in Social Context, London: Laurence & Wishart
Sherry Turkle (1995) Life on the screen: Identity in the age of internet, New York, N.Y. : Touchstone.
Myron W.Krueger (1995) Artificial Reality II, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts
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