Can a Community Ever Really Exist Online?

For today’s post, I feel like playing devil’s advocate. I’m sure most of our group will end up posting about the digital revolution of online communities and how they will inevitably replace physical communities. Yet, I question whether this can ever really happen? Can a community ever solely exist online? Can a community be as tight-knit online as it is in person? Community, after all, typically refers to “relationships that are intimate, endearing and based upon a clear understanding of where each person stands in society” (Bell and Newby, 60). In the online world you might be able to locate an appealing subsection to join, such as online gamers, to continue with the example we used in class. I will also concede that after enough time you might be able understand the hierarchy of that group. However, with an online society you can never be intimate with your group. You can be warm and chummy, but you can never really be close. As Rheingold said, “People in virtual communities do just about everything people do in real life, but we leave our bodies behind” (Rheingold, 61); meaning that anybody can leave their persona that comes with their bodies behind as well. For example, if I joined a chat-room I could fabricate the persona that I am a suave 23-year old underwear model or even that I’m 12-year old girl. My point is this, since there is no physical interaction online no one would know my true identity and therefore I can’t truly know anyone else’s. This brings me back to my initial question, if we can’t ever really know somebody online, can a community ever solely exist online?

Would do you guys think?

-Bryan Gleason



3 thoughts on “Can a Community Ever Really Exist Online?

  1. I think you bring up a great question here. The chapter this week focused mainly on the idea that communities are no longer defined by location or that they pertain solely to a group that exists physically together. A community can also be seen as anything that provides unity and collectivity, so I would have to say that while online communities lack a physical presence, they are still able to bring people together from all over the world and form a common sense of being.

  2. I believe a community cannot exist solely online. I believe this is a strong problem in today’s society. Handling certain issues online can be very convenient and have been a great asset for communicating, however, I believe relying solely on the “internet” for communication is, and has been detrimental to our society. Doing things in person, face to face is a lot different than emailing, text messaging or any other form of communication that isn’t being done face to face. Like you said Bryan, communicating online, you can make your own identity. If I had a issue with a Coach, Boss, or Professor, I would much rather discuss an issue face to face rather than online, I guess it is different though, when you already have met someone in person, then I guess you would have a better understanding or the person’s persona, compared to the gamers, who may have never met the person their talking too. I don’t think I could feel as connected to someone having never met them in person…I don’t know what you think, just my opinion…see you Monday.

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