Friday, July 19, 2019
The Virtual Neighborhood and Its Social Implications :: Argumentative Persuasive Essays
The Virtual Neighborhood and Its Social Implications My own feelings about the "virtual neighborhood" fall somewhere in between those of Jim Dewer and David Noble. I will very briefly make an attempt to sketch out some boundary lines and find myself therein. I distinguish two sides of the issue. One is the concept itself and the other is the proposed list of uses. Admittedly, the two of these are related. The Concept First of all, the "virtual neighborhood" is no real neighborhood and we need to avoid being unduly convinced by a metaphor which is just that, a metaphor, of limited use. A "virtual promise" is no real promise. A "virtual promise" does not hold up in court where contracts have to be demonstrable, e.g., in writing. The word 'virtual' means something idealized by projection and not actualized. Calling the Internet a "virtual neighborhood" is making a claim that we can re-create a familiar experience by projection into an enormous "ideal" electronic experience. Second, let us not forget to check to see whether a metaphor is appropriate. Just because it is a metaphor is no reason to believe it is a useful metaphor --- that is, a "noble falsehood." Does the idea of a virtual neighborhood have some nobility? If we stretch the neighborhood all the way around the world, what features of it can we justifiably expect to carry over into the virtual reality of the metaphor? And what won't stretch? Clearly, actual visualization, moment-by-moment multiple perception, and direction recognition/identification -- essential features of truly human contact -- don't stretch across this medium. We don't get to watch a person's "body language." Is the person uneasy? Confident? Intimacy is something that also belongs to most neighborhoods but doesn't travel well. For one thing, the network is too narrow a channel and it's set up for too much speed. Neighborhoods develop because we watch each other's kids grow up and we borrow each other's lawn mowers. And finally, I do not believe that commitment is something we'll find in the virtual neighborhood. When my virtual neighbor's URL burns down, will I be there with my bucket of fiberoptic? A neighborhood is something complex, something rich. Saying that we can re-create a neighborhood virtually across incredible distances and through a very limited medium has to be, in some real sense, very audacious. This is especially the case, I think, when we claim that intimacy can move without alteration across this medium.