Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Illusion of Intamicy in Cybersape

In this week's reading Richard Cutler in chapter 21 talks about how individuals online begin to trust each other. As each person within the online community begin to reveal more personal information about themselves, they become more connected to each other and start to develop a more intimate relationship. He explains that intimacy of others is a basic human need so as we expose ourselves online and it reciprocated by others, we begin to see a bond between individuals form. Sometimes to the point where individuals want to meet face-to-face.

While this is true, overall I see this more so an illusion where intimacy is not necessarily real. There are too many unanswered questions in an online relationship that can only be answer in a face-to-face interaction. Without physical presence it seems the user is having an intimate relationship with a name on screen. I feel that not until they meet in person can it be confirmed. I'm sure those who have experienced an online relationship of some sort would dispute this idea.


mike's spot said...


I'll dispute ya, what the hell.

Now I'm talking platonic, or educational relationships here, I'm not the internet dating type.

I find that certain web communities develop a social code of ethics unto themselves, that does translate into the physical world.

As many people know, I'm big into shooting and hunting- as such I travel web forums that help me support and learn about my sports of choice.

One such forum was particularly friendly, and while undertaking a sub hobby to support one of the aforementioned- I was sent several boxes of free stuff- in the real world.

I expressed interesting in a hobby called 'casting' which refers to casting bullets for use in competition or hunting.

I was looking for general product reviews, how tos, and the the like-. what I received was all the information, plus several people's older gear at no cost. They were just happy to share their hobby with another person, several states away.

the gear probably totaled about 75 dollars, even used. it was donated by 3 guys, who refused payment in return.

as such, now that I am more established in the hobby, I have donated all of that original gear in a pay it forward like manner, and additional gear to get other people involved.

I think it depends on the web community- but I definitely believe that people have a desire for close relationships in all forms of communication, be it online or in the form of pen pals, people want to connect.

Brian said...

I get the sense that most people feel like the Internet is a safe place where intimacy can take place. I wouldn't dispute this but just like any other public forum one needs to keep guard for the creeps. Perhaps if we thought of the Internet as if we were in a public park we would have a better sense of the public-nature of the Internet. The security of one's home can mislead people to think that they are secure on the Internet. As long as people know that this is publicly displayed then their should no longer be a problem. However, there is a certain amount of skepticism and discretion that must be adhered to when on the Internet. In this space one can conjure up any personality that they want and it may be a lure to make people want to meet in person and obviously, that's when the real danger occurs and physical violence takes place. Even though we might remember that we are in a public space we won't know whether or not one is wearing a mask or not and there in lies the ambiguity of cyberspace that Scott has referred to.

Anonymous said...

Imagine an era where there is no need to meet face-to face because the human has the personal technology to interact (almost feeling physically pleasing) and they hardly recognize their real-world self, because everything they do, for fun, for work, for survival, takes place over a digital discourse and through their made up digital-self.

What if the air pollution was too bearable or the threat of ‘whatever’ has completely seeped into the human consciousness where they see no need to leave their dwelling? Of course, their dwelling being fully equipped with a digital community of interaction, job employment, exercise scenarios to stay healthy, and things I couldn’t even imagine to keep the human from physical interaction.

Lance Strate said...

Looks like you're using the earlier edition of the book, Scott.

As for trust, there is an issue given the distance and the ease with which individuals can disguise their identity. On the other hand, I've heard it said by many that most people that they know online and end up meeting in person later are remarkably consistent form one environment to the other.

And, of course, trust remains an issue in face-to-face interactions as well. There are impostors, con men, shills, etc.