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Simmel and Cybercommunities: A Ghost Writing Analysis

October 7, 2011

The reliance on the internet establishes an unalterable constraint on reversion and goes against the fabrics of human nature to preserve individuality.  Although it dilutes specialization and liberates the individual from the bindings of the group, it incarcerates him to technology.  The removal of geographic boundaries, needless mobility, ease of economic exchange, limitless information, and intense stimulation, hollows the mind and sloths the body.  Inter-personal interaction becomes diminished in the realm of cyberspace, as textual language replaces physical appearance. Cyber communities stand as a threat to social relationships as it disguises identity, amplifies cruelty, and construct false friendships.

The boundless spatial environment of the internet is capable of establishing communities of similarity in a manifold of dimensions.  These large communities benefit the individual by limiting the exertion of control over him, thus permitting the potential to develop his individuality uninterrupted.  Conversely, as a consequence to this limited exertion, the individual may become liable to mental distance and impersonality.  Therefore, in an effort to cope with the corpulent community, one must search for smaller, more attentive communities within cyberspace.  Similar to the division of labor established in the metropolis, in which specialization is foundation, these miniature communities are sustained by the comparable interests of group members.  The acknowledgement of one’s own interest is a declaration of self-worth and identity, which is essential to his development.  However, the desire for anonymity may cause certain individuals to mask their true selves with a counterfeit identity.  Psychologically, these forged cyber-personas are capable of supplementing the individual’s quest for self-realization; but at the possible cost of surfacing one’s hidden demons.  Due to the security of the cyber-façade, some individuals may abolish their barriers of ethics and discharge detained negativity, such as racism and sexism, to wreck havoc on human emotions and turning cyberspace into a battlefield of principles.

The internet is the new seat of the modern money economy.  With its non-restrictive geographic capabilities, consumers are now limited only to the conflict between desire and reason.  The once obligated social intercourse between merchant and customer are no longer relevant and the privatization in the consumption of goods is depriving individuals of face-to-face communication and social approval that goes with the coordination of using shared goods.  Furthermore, the once social interaction between associates while in the union pursuit of goods has been diminished by eCommerce, as goods can be exchanged without mobility. Objects lose emotional value as the time, sacrifice, and difficulties involved in its acquisition become nonexistent, leaving only scarcity to weigh its worth.  Online banking, billing, and other business activities give the individual a sense of independence from the group, but at the cost of becoming enslaved by technology.

Unlike the static authentic environment, the cyber environment is easily manipulated.  It is a place where the line between reality and fantasy is blurred.  Realms are created to satisfy the id of all its desires.  The substitution of fantasy over life gratification is undisciplined, as the attraction of virtual life has become a hindrance to the authentication of the real self and the sustainability of offline communities.  The young, in particular, are easily seduced by the addictive maladaptive habits of virtual imagination.  This boundless pursuit for digital pleasure makes the individual blasé for it agitates the nerves until they finally cease to react.  Similar to the metropolis, cyberspace is a populace of demographics.  In an attempt to satisfy the populace, the internet constantly bombards them with sounds, messages, entertainment, activities, and onrushing impressions, which further damages the unconscious foundations of their psychic well-being.  This overstimulation deadens the senses and forces individuals to adopt a stance of social and emotional distance from its surroundings.  Although it is possible in cyberspace for individuals to expand their social circles, this expansion degrades the true relationships found in reality.  The term friendship needs to be applied loosely, for the comradeship of four-hundred individuals is contra-genuine.  Moreover, cyber social interaction reduces the act of actual physical interaction and as a consequence, people are becoming lonely and depressed.

Cyberspace removes the individual from group dependency but encapsulates him in technology.  The virtual money economy is reducing the need for social interaction in commerce and the onrush of activity of the internet causes minds to become blasé, depressed, and lonely.  Cyberspace is a threat to the human mind, and like the metropolis, needs to be approached analytically and cautiously. –Ping Zhou

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