The Internet & Our Social World

1023 words - 4 pages

The Internet was developed in the 1960's "so that the US Department of Defense researchers could share information with one another and other researchers". (Saari, 2001) Over the past decade, however; internet users have created virtual communities that are used by millions all over the world. These virtual communities are used by people to interact with others while surfing the World Wide Web. Similar to the real world, the Internet allows immediate interaction and also provides many different communities.The Internet has also become a fast and efficient way of connecting people. Social interactions wither users all around the world has become more widespread over the past decade. The Internet has become a hotbed of business activity, a virtual shopping mall, a social paradise, and a culture all wrapped into one neat package. Despite these advantages, this synthetic global connection with its massive networking has drawbacks, such as an avoidance of direct social contact. The power to access both the business and social world hinders the direct connection with the outside physical world.The Internet is not always used for the specific purpose of business relations. It allows people who would not normally interact with other social groups or cultures to communicate with a wide range others. Chat rooms are the most likely of all places to find common interest groups that are willing to share information about themselves and their lives. This type of global interaction is reminiscent to having a pen pal, but on a much larger and more efficient scale. Also, this type of interaction eliminates the social awkwardness of direct physical contact when meeting new people. Internet users can reach out to others while maintaining a comfortable level of personal space. While the Internet can be an exciting tool to meet others around the world, it can also discourage people from using their social skills outside of their own home.In some aspects, online communities are similar to physical communities. Internet users may become part of an online community because they live in or work in a specific place. Both types of communities are characterized by communication building relationships. Members offer one another social support and a sense of belonging. People basically do the same activities in both physical and online communities. As Rheingold puts it, "they discuss, argue, fight, reconcile, make friends, and amuse themselves".The Internet's ability to help people network socially makes it a valuable asset to one's life. The Internet brings people of all walks of life together and makes it easier for these people to communicate. It brings users together in a virtual space and removes the impact or influence of physical first impressions. The bonding among members of virtual communities can be closer that more conventional arrangements. Contact is easier to maintain and despite the closeness that is created, users can remain fairly anonymous to one another if...

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