Posted by Shannon O'Grady on October 9, 2008
Well as you all know (ok, maybe not all but I feel like an ego boost) I asked for a bit of audience participation last week. We were discussing online interactions and the differences between real and virtual relationships.
Well, the responses I got revolved around not trusting people in general to be honest, especially when it’s so easy to be dishonest in the virtual realm, and not feeling the media can convey feelings and emotions as well as face to face contact.
While these are valuable points, they may not apply to everyone. Personally I don’t seem to have any problem expressing myself online and I find that there’s just as dishonest face to face as they are in text, but I found out something even more telling about online relations.
They give you the ability to choose to respond or not.
Had I asked each member of our sociology class face to face about these issues there would have been more responses because “No comment” isn’t exactly a socially acceptable answer in face to face situations. However, online we gain the ability to ignore queries that we don’t want to respond to, especially when these queries aren’t directed at us by name. Even when they are we claim that “oh your e-mail much have gotten sent to my spam filter by mistake” when we in fact are just ignoring the correspondence of an annoying cousin. Perhaps this relates back to dishonesty, but I think it’s linked to something grander.
Freedom is the sweetest gift of all
Online we exist within two realms: the private (in this case the private areas of our computer that aren’t available over the network) and the virtual network. Because we can hide our private/real world activities from the networked world we gain the freedom to do as we please, with out the social restraints we feel in the networked world, or even the social situations of the real world.
To illustrate my point, think back to the analogy of questioning all members of the class individually on online relationships. Social rules we feel compelled to follow force us in to responding in a face to face situation. However, because of our private world on our computer we can act as we please, hiding from the eyes of society and the networked world.
We exercise our rights to freedom in this private world far more than we would in a face to face world because we feel no social pressures. It is a truly free world.
So perhaps that was the more important thing to learn from this experiment. We are free to use our private and social worlds as we please to be as social as we wan through technological methods. I choose to see the virtual world as more closely related to the real world as others do, and maybe in the process comprimise some of my freedoms, but that is my choice.
And so, go exercise your freedom, and comment if you please, text if you will and ignore e-mails if it makes you happy, because it’s your choice in the end, and maybe that’s why the internet has such staying in our lives. It proivdes us more of the freedom we so crave.
Posted in Digital Culture, Interaction | Tagged: BP, Experiment, face to face ineraction, Freedom, long distance relationships, online communication, online interaction, Shannon, virtual relationships | Leave a Comment »