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The Internet and Community Involvement

While discussing the different approaches that scholars take toward the Internet today in class, I would have to say that when it comes to its role in community involvement, my view is very much optimistic.  Rather than viewing the idea of a community as solely based on location and physical presence, my vision of a community is more general.  I feel that any connection and feeling of collectivity  among people can define a community, and so, I believe that the Internet is a key component in fostering community development.  While people may not be able to physically interact in chat rooms or blogs, they can still develop emotional bonds and a sense of togetherness based on their shared ideas and common interests.  Furthermore, to label something as a community only because of a geographic location largely precludes people who may not have the opportunity or skills to physically interact with others in a social sense from ever forming any sense of a community.  People who are ill and confined to their beds can still interact with others on the Internet and form relationships that involve an intellectual and emotional tie.  The idea that we lose our impersonal relationships with others by forming a “pseudo community” through the Internet is limited in my eyes, simply because new media, particularly the Internet, can sustain already existing interpersonal relationships and at the same time allow those who are not fortunate or skilled enough to form them with those in their physical presence, to form them with others who may have the same issues. The argument that ending a relationship online has little or no consequence in comparison to physical relationships does not address the fact that many people’s online friendships can provide them with as much meaning as an interpersonal one, and while it may be easier to end it with the click of a button, that doesn’t mean that the feelings are any less real.  In conclusion, I would have to promote Internet use in terms of forming community ties and relations.

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