Computer mediated communication

When people go on the internet – whether it is for posting something on facebook or playing a computer game – they take a certain identity. If we look at the prototype of a gamer, we actually see someone that has a very different appearance compared to what they look like in real life. They take the form of the person they want to be because this is possible in the virtual world. It is a place that is often describe as a place where everything is possible.

Those identities form the basis of online communities in which every single person takes his or her own role: a clerk by day can become the great leader of a team going for quests at night. But what do we consider to be a community? Let’s compare it to real life terms:

The African-American community, the Irish community, the European community or a farmer community

All of these are grouped under that single community term, showing that a real distinction should be made between all of them! A first distinction can be made between social communities – bringing people together that have common interests – and local communities that are formed because people have a sense of locality. Already with that first distinction, we see that technology has been causing a great shift from local to social communities: 100 years ago, people barely went beyond village boundaries, while today we take the airplane and 14 hours later we arrive at another continent. The internet made that shift even greater: with a couple of mouse clicks, you are in touch with people from all different continents at the same time; people that have no locality feeling in common whatsoever, but do have a shared interest.

Friends are often considered people that are close to you, but ask yourself: are they close to you because you are that alike? Or are they close to you because you have common interests, but more importantly because you live near? These days such local group of friends is still considered to be the standard. If you replace them by social communities on the internet, you’re a freak.

Coming back to the first step of this reasoning: what is identity? By many it is still considered as something static: we have a certain personality, and everything we like to be that is not that personality is called faking. But nonetheless is true:

Perhaps instead of thinking of identity as an already accomplished fact, we should think instead of identity as a ‘production’ which is never complete, always in process.

To illustrate this: if we go to a party, most of us think of what we are going to wear. That consideration is directly related to how we want to present ourselves to others. We could say in a way that everyone is schizophrenic…

How 3D gaming and interaction will further change our experience of personalities and social interaction is still hard to say, but our guess might be that 3D interaction will reduce somewhat the possibilities of who we can become. We are – after all – limited by our physical body. This might actually bring back that local community that is long forgotten. We already see that computer games are becoming more realistic and 3D camera’s might just give that next boost to it.


Identity on the internet:


One Response to Computer mediated communication

  1. Do take into account my remark: an identity is not static. You don’t wear the same clothes on a prom night as you would wear any other day. We have to adjust ourselves to the environment.

    The internet is a very new and flexible environment where people can realise more than they could in real life. In a way they did accomplish this themselves, but because it was simply too easy, people consider it to be not real. But if you meat some one via facebook, and you get to know their internet personality; it’s as real as it could get!

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