We are now living in a technological age where we can travel from the bottom of the sea to the top of the moon, just by a click. We are also living in a technological world where we are all connecting with people while still hiding from each other at the same time. The point is we do not realize that we are turning to technology to feel connected rather than demanding a real friend.
What are ‘Cyberspace’ and ‘Virtual Communities’?
The term ‘Cyberspace’ is used for conceptual space where people using CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) are linked into public discussions which manifest their relationships, data, and wealth, power and words (Peter 1996 & Howard 1993). In cyberspace, people creates another world named ‘Virtual Communities’.
The term ‘Virtual Communities’ emerges from the interchange of technology and humanity. It is a social aggregation of people around the world who stay in the public discussion long enough to be formed in webs of personal relationship in cyberspace (Howard 1993). Furthermore, people in virtual communities have high sense of community which are the feeling of membership, interaction, shared emotional connection, integration and the fulfillment of needs (Peter 1996).
We are being alone together.
Although virtual communities and cyberspace bring us to amazing adventures of discovering worldwide, talking to people we haven’t met and learning about everything, they are changing our lives in pessimistic ways. They are not only changing what we do but also changing who we are. Have you ever stopped using technology devices for a second to look at what people around you are doing? Yes, they are buried in their mobiles, tablets or laptops. They are busy with their virtual world.
As a study from Nic (2015) about 10 key trends of 2014, the level of smartphone addiction reached new heights and messaging apps became the new focus of digital innovations. In fact, WhatsApp had more than 600,000 users, following by WeChat, Snapchat and Line (Nic 2015). Moreover, Hue (2014) noted in ‘The Home button and boundary line between virtuality and reality’ that the virtual world accidently changed the lifestyle of many families. People would never notice how they addict to virtual stories from virtual friends. They just look down on their smartphones when they are walking on the street or while waiting for a cup of coffee, even when they are in classes, during presentation and actually during all meetings. In some ‘technological family’ nowadays, parents are checking out emails or texting during breakfast and dinner while children are busy with Facebook and Twitter (Ian 2013).That means they are spending more and more time to connect with people in our virtual communities but less and less quality time with their families and friends in real life.
As a result, communication in technological age is shifting from face-to-face conversation to texting, posting, chatting and emailing via technology devices. Virtual communities and Cyberspace let people present the self they want to be and they are short-changed themselves for that mere connection (Nafissa 2012). Nevertheless, people are connected more and more to feel less alone but actually they are going to be more lonely because they are getting far away from real-life relationship.
It’s time to talk!
It does not mean that we turn away from technological devices, it is just the right time to reconsider how we use it. Firstly, spend time with our family by making a space for face-to-face conversation. It might be at the kitchen, the dining room or even in tea-time at the back yard. Secondly, change your communication habits by trying to listen to your friends then making real talks. It might takes a bit slowly but it effects quickly. Let’s care for each other and care for ourselves in a real way then we will never be lonely anymore.
High rate TED Talk: Connected, but alone?
Howard R. 1993, ‘The virtual community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier’, MIT Press 1st ed. 2000, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company 1993, US, pp. 325
Hue D. 2014, ‘Nút Home và ranh giới thực-ảo’ (The Home button and boundary line between virtuality and reality), Apr 20, 2014, viewed March 15, 2015, < http://tuoitre.vn/tin/tuoi-tre-cuoi-tuan/20140420/nut-home-va-ranh-gioi-thuc—ao/603396.html >
Ian K. 2013, ‘Your smartphone may be powering down your relationship’, CNN Jan 10, 2013, viewed March 15, 2015, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/10/health/kerner-social-relationship/
Nic N. 2015, ‘Media, journalism and technology predictions 2015’, University of Oxford, , Jan 2015, Digital News Report 2015
Nafissa T. 2012, ‘Connected but alone? Highlights from our Live Conversation with Sherry Turkle’, TED Blog, April 13, 2012, viewed March 15, 2015, < http://blog.ted.com/connected-but-alone-highlights-from-live-conversation-with-sherry-turkle/ >
Peter L. 1996, ‘High Noon on the Electronic Frontier: Conceptual Issues in Cyberspace’, MIT Press Published, vol. 31, p.413