A Virtual Community Is Different From The Experience Of A Real Community

1881 words - 8 pages

Is a Virtual community any different from a real community? Is the Virtualcommunity real or imaginary? I plan to find out...Due to the enormous increase in numbers of internet users, over the past several years,virtual communities have been created and are being used by millions all over theworld. Virtual communities are used for users to interact with other users whilst theyare surfing the web.The Web allows immediate interaction, and as in real space many different types ofcommunities exist. The power of the Internet's connectivity with people from all overthe world means cyberspace is most prominently a place to socialise and play, and tomany enthusiasts the web is a virtual playground where people can gossip, flirt, fall inlove, argue, exchange knowledge etc. As Rheingold states in his book "'The Virtual Community" "People in virtualcommunities do just about everything people do in real life, but we leave our bodiesbehind.'More and more people every day are 'socialising' on the web, whether it is on chatsites, forums or newsgroups, they all provide some sort of social interaction.As Rheingold wrote: "you can't simply pick up a phone and ask to be connected withsomeone who wants to talk about Islamic art or California wine... you can however,join a computer conferences on any of these topics."Some say that virtual communities are a good way to interact and make new friendsand for those less fortunate e.g. people who find it hard to interact with others or whomay be ill or have a disability of some sort can make new friends and have some sortof interaction with other people, rather than the same people they see at home day inday out. A number of people say that virtual communities are fake and a waste of timeand that people who use them should "get a life".To start of my essay I would just like to clarify on what a virtual community actuallyis. A virtual community is a community of people sharing common interests, ideas,and feelings over the Internet or other combined networks. A possible inventor of thisterm and one of its first proponents was Howard Rheingold, who created one of thefirst major Internet communities, called "The Well." In his book, The VirtualCommunity, Rheingold defines virtual communities as social aggregations thatemerge from the Internet when enough people carry on public discussions longenough and with sufficient human feeling to form webs of personal relationships incyberspace.Like everything in the world, online communities have advantages and disadvantages.On the one hand they are a very useful tool for international communication, they arecheap, can be used all over the world and by everyone who can work with a computer.On the other hand the social competence of the users of virtual communities might getlost, you can not trust the words of a person that is hiding him- or herself behind anickname, you can not recognize any feelings or an atmosphere and you can even getaddicted to the internet. The idea of these virtual...

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