For today’s post, I feel like playing devil’s advocate. I’m sure most of our group will end up posting about the digital revolution of online communities and how they will inevitably replace physical communities. Yet, I question whether this can ever really happen? Can a community ever solely exist online? Can a community be as tight-knit online as it is in person? Community, after all, typically refers to “relationships that are intimate, endearing and based upon a clear understanding of where each person stands in society” (Bell and Newby, 60). In the online world you might be able to locate an appealing subsection to join, such as online gamers, to continue with the example we used in class. I will also concede that after enough time you might be able understand the hierarchy of that group. However, with an online society you can never be intimate with your group. You can be warm and chummy, but you can never really be close. As Rheingold said, “People in virtual communities do just about everything people do in real life, but we leave our bodies behind” (Rheingold, 61); meaning that anybody can leave their persona that comes with their bodies behind as well. For example, if I joined a chat-room I could fabricate the persona that I am a suave 23-year old underwear model or even that I’m 12-year old girl. My point is this, since there is no physical interaction online no one would know my true identity and therefore I can’t truly know anyone else’s. This brings me back to my initial question, if we can’t ever really know somebody online, can a community ever solely exist online?
Would do you guys think?