Cyberspace and Human Relationships Essay
Cyberspace and Human Relationships
There was a time when people were divided into 2 groups: those with social skills that help them in interacting with others, and those without the needed social skills to interact thus causing them to retreat into a shell or their own little vacuum of a world. These groups no longer exist in today’s world because of that technological marvel that has been bridging social gaps in the 21st century, the Internet. The Internet has introduced both the socially adept and inept people to new forms of communication that do not cause them to get tongue tied nor have muddled thoughts when trying to relate to others.
Using chat room, email, forums, blogging, and other forms of electronic communication has allowed people, as a collective society to redefine human relationships in relation to the existence of cyberspace. Cyberspace, more popularly known as the Internet has allowed people to discover the full extent of their social skills within the safe confines of their unknown locations and aliases. According to Norman N. Holland in his paper entitled The Internet Regression: Current estimates say 23 million people communicate on the Internet from most of the nations on the globe, and that number is increasing at 12% a month.
One would normally say that these statistics are a good sign. People are finally communicating with each other regardless of nationality, ethnicity, and race. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Holland’s research has indicated that: Talking on the Internet, people regress. It’s that simple. It can be one-to-one talk on e-mail or many-to-many talk on one of the LISTs or newsgroups. People regress, expressing sex and aggression as they never would face to face. He proceeds to explain that these regressions can be seen in 3 aspects that he terms as Internet primitivism.
These acts of primitivism are flaming, sexual aggression, strangely enough, extraordinary generosity over the Internet. He defines flaming as Flying into a typewritten rage at some perceived slight or blunder and is the most common form of Internet primitivism usually found in forums, blogs, newsgroups, and emails. Sexual harassment is a: Crude invitations to people about whom one knows no more than their online signatures (which may well be “gender-benders” that hide the sex of the speaker).
Just like in the physical world, this kind of attack is aimed towards women and can happen even in the most professional and intellectual of forums. Although, due to the anonymity that cyberspace offers, males also get their fair share or indecent proposals. Finally, you are probably wondering as to how extraordinary generosity can be considered a type of regression influenced by the use of the Internet. Mr. Holland explains that The one comment you hear over and over again about online communication is the openness, the sense of sharing and, mostly, tolerance.
Total strangers will give up hours of their time to send one another research data. Even goods. This is because of the aura of safety and comfort that Internet relationships provide. Mr. Holland tells his readers that Kristina Ross coined the term “Identity play” to define this sort of openness. The idea being that People try out new ways of being, often in very playful ways: different professions, the opposite gender, altered self-descriptions. There is a sense that ‘it doesn’t matter,’ a feeling of invulnerability. Summing up his belief about Internet relationships, he indicates that
Communication on the Internet has its plusses and minuses. The plusses are the generosity and openness. The minuses are aggressive flaming, sexual attack, and increased vulnerability. I think they are two sides of the same coin: sex and aggression in positive and negative, active and passive, forms. Both begin because of a lack of inhibition–a regression. Therefore, he believes that the relationships built over the Internet allow man to give in to his most basic animal desires without anyone to answer to simple because the Internet cannot be controlled nor censored.
The main problem I see with Internet based interaction is that the human aspect of socialization has disappeared. Cyberspace gives us a false sense of security and does not provide any boundaries that teach the users how to treat our cyber neighbor. Inhibition does not exist when one does not physically interact with others and this offers a different kind of freedom that allows one to express himself too freely at times in ways and means that one would not even dare to try when face to face with another person. MIT professor Sherry Turk whose article “Who Am We?
” was published by Wire Magazine has found that: Computer screens are the new location for our fantasies, both erotic and intellectual. We are using life on computer screens to become comfortable with new ways of thinking about evolution, relationships, sexuality, politics, and identity. Due to the ease of creating an Internet identity, man has developed the ability to become the Internet character version of a chameleon. It is not uncommon for a person to have more than one online identity depending upon the type of site being frequented.
Each identity also has an accompanying character and background that could either be based on the actual personality of the person or totally made up in order to serve a certain purpose for the individual. Now, according to a 2004 survey done by the Elan University / Pew Internet Project: By 2014, use of the Internet will increase the size of peoples’ social networks far beyond what has traditionally been the case. This will enhance trust in society, as people have a wider range of sources from which to discover and verify information about job opportunities, personal services, common interests and products.
Cyberspace has bridged a communication gap worldwide. It allows us to have a tremendously extensive social network using community websites like Friendster, My Space, and other similar websites. Using these avenues, we have developed virtual worlds where we can become comfortable with other people and decide if it would be worth it for us to meet them face to face, or if it will be worth it to speak to them over the phone. Due to the ease of creating an Internet identity, man has developed the ability to become the Internet character version of a chameleon.
It is not uncommon for a person to have more than one online identity depending upon the type of site being frequented. Each identity also has an accompanying character and background that could either be based on the actual personality of the person or totally made up in order to serve a certain purpose for the individual. The existence of cyberspace has redefined one of the most basic social and human relationships. I am talking about the Dating relationship. Gone are the days of worrying and embarrassment over wanting to talk to a person you have a crush on or talking to a person you really want to ask out and fearing being rebuffed.
Dating services such as match. com proliferate the Internet and, for low monthly fees, the company wants you to believe that they can find you that perfect partner all through the use of technology supported match making. Millions of people worldwide are signed up for similar services in their home countries. The questions are (1. ) Does it really work? (2. ) Is there a more dominant sex in this kind of dating set-up? (3) Have the gender roles been reversed because of this new form of finding and going on a date? (4.
) Dating a matter of trust. Can you trust someone you just met online? Since cyberspace allows us to communicate from great distances, personal and romantic relationships that are based on this arena centers mostly around trusting the other person. Somehow, people who interact online seem to be more comfortable talking about them and use the anonymity of the Internet as confidence boost towards becoming more intimate. Online dating allows both participants to find someone they have a lot in common with before actually going on a physical date.
This helps lessen or eliminate the uncertainty of the physical date because they assume that they already know each other and already know they are mentally compatible. Hence, a different level of comfort and trust. According to Tiberius Brastaviceanu, author of The Future of Online Dating: Technology-mediated communication provides a less stressful environment where dating people can better control their self-presentation, and better strategize. Some manifestations of this difference are: Misrepresentation: for various reasons people tend to portray a persona that is unrealistic to a greater degree.
End of conversation: exchanges can be ended abruptly, as this action bears insignificant consequences. Intimacy: people tend to disclose more intimate information, as this action bears less-significant consequences. Rudeness: extreme behaviors, normally inhibited in a real social environment, are common in computer-mediated communication. Indeed, dating these days is now a far cry from when our parents were dating. Maybe because dating people met online is more exciting. It provides and element of surprise and according to Brastaviceanu:
The ultimate cause is that it makes the dating game more interesting, by providing huge payoffs: intimacy, each independent rejection is less harmful (go here for more in-depth), putting an end to a stillborn relation is less complicated, access to a larger pool of potential matches, etc. Online dating is a type of dating service that relies mostly on technology, and offers daters the possibility to meet and to communicate online. Although, just like anything too good to be true, it has some grave downsides that are considered just as dangerous as speed dating and blind dating.
According to Brastaviceanu, these complications are quite similar to real life dating woes. As an example, he states: Misrepresentation Security A torrent of unpleasant messages from non-serious daters As some of the dangers posed by online dating. Yet people still seem to enjoy using the online dating services or going out with people they meet online. Some would say, “the payoff exceeds the nuisance” that according to Brastaviceanu has provided the single people with a highly modified dating model that has left us with one certainty:
The dating game has been greatly modified, but on a background of continuity. It still holds important elements form its traditional version. And that is because the players (daters) are still real beings manifesting real needs, and the aim of the game (relational goals) is something that has to be cherished in real-life. It is true that online dating has made everything easier for people who are painfully shy or do to have the first idea as to how to get or ask for a date with a person they like. But online dating will never replace actual dating.
There are certain elements of physical dating that cannot be erased because of the importance it carries in terms of a long-term physical, or even cyberspace based relationship. One of these more important factors is the role each person plays in the relationship. Even in cyberspace, there can be no role reversal, as one will always prove to be the more dominant sex. But, because these people met and discovered each other similarities and differences in cyberspace, they may find it easier to meet halfway and come to an agreement regarding the role each person will play in the date or relationship.
In terms of sexuality though, theorists such as Sherry Turkel advocate the belief that: Interaction in cyberspace to be liberating in that anonymous users can put on and take off gender identities at will. According to some of those who shared their beliefs in the 1999 article Gender and the Internet: Sex, Sexism, and Sexuality, theorists such as Alan Ryan believe otherwise indicating that: If I pass myself off as a Chinese drag queen of uncertain age, I do not become any such thing, any more than I would do so if I played some part in a play.
From the same article, Don Slater further reaffirms the notion that sexual roles are not reversed once meeting people online by explaining that: While one would expect the construction of new kinds of bodies, identities and connections between them, a liberation, an experimentalism or at least a diminished conventionality, his study of sexpics trade on IRC found that participants reaffirmed heterosexual, male norms. Cyberspace has influenced more than just the dating game played by society. It has also managed to alter the face of human relationships due to the vast communities online dedicated to social interaction among its members.
Entire communities are built solely for the purpose of meeting new people who share the same interests or simply staying in touch with friends who now live miles away from each other. Lisa R. Hoffman, author of the article Gender and the Internet: Sex, Sexism, and Sexuality explains who human relationships have evolved with the emergence of cyberspace as a social tool and gathering place for individuals and groups as: Rather than representing a dichotomy between good and evil, oppression and resistance, the Internet and its use reflects society’s complexity.
Theoretically speaking, it therefore reflects the epistemological insights of feminist, postmodernist, and cultural studies scholars, who posit a multiple versus dualistic conception of society and social change. Moreover, it appears that the Internet and gender represents just one more case of how the more things change, the more they stay the same. The virtual world of cyberspace mimics the real world situations and problems on sites such as Friendster, Facebook, and MySpace. These cyber communities share the same real world problems of envy, lying, pretending, and bullying.
The big difference in the problems lies in the way the cyberspace user chooses to handle the situation because, unlike in real life, in a cyber community, you can unsubscribe, block emails and private messages, or quite simply, just turn off the computer. These are options not available to us in the real world. I believe that the best explanation as to how cyberspace has helped human relationships evolved into a higher degree comes from the article by Margot Morse entitled The Chaos of Cyberspace Brought to Order: Social Networking Sites.
She successfully explains that: One undeniable fact is that sites such a these ones allow individuals to remain connected through various outlets and areas of interest. Relationships between friends and family can be more in touch with each other close to “real time” through messaging. The sites also makes connections and can show how people know each other through the degrees of separation- thus creating a smaller and more connected world and reinforcing our personal relationships.
All of these theories, analysis, surveys say the same thing about our society and the effect of cyberspace on the relationships in the virtual and real world. Anything done in excess will have severe consequences. Cyberspace or the Internet was originally developed as a military tool to help aid in warfare program and development. It has come a long way from being a tool of mass chaos, to a tool aimed at developing relationships and fostering goodwill. The actual effect that cyberspace will have on dating and human relationship is solely based in the hands of man.
Cyberspace can easily be used in bad ways as it can be used for good. It is up to man to make sure that the right decisions are made and that cyberspace remains a tool of peace and an avenue meant to keep the peace and foster understanding, love and friendship among mankind. Work Cited “Gender and the Internet: Sex, Sexism, and Sexuality”. ProQuest CSA. May 1999. April 10, 2007 < http://www. csa. com/discoveryguides/archives/gender. php> “Prediction on Social Networks”. Imagining the Internet. 2004. April 12, 2007 < http://www. elon. edu/e-web/predictions/expertsurveys/2004_socialnetworks.
xhtml “The Chaos of Cyberspace Brought to Order: Social Networking Sites”. ConNetion : The Cultural Phenomenon of the World Wide Web. April 2007. April 10. 2007 <http://www. commstudies. neu. edu/NUMedia/connetion/Relationships. html> “The Future of the Dating Industry”. Dating Industry. March 19, 2007. April 11, 2007 < http://tiberius-dating-industry. blogspot. com/search/label/online%20dating> “The Internet Regression”. The Psychology of Cyberspace. January 1996. April 12, 2007 <http://www. rider. edu/~suler/psycyber/holland. html>