Identifying the Definition of a Community

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Identifying the Definition of a Community

Before beginning to determine the similarities and differences of the

virtual and ‘real-life’ community I believe it is important to

identify what a ‘community’ is. The Oxford English dictionary states

that a community is “the holding of certain attitudes and interests in

common.” But can this be said for a real-life community?

In today’s age it is very difficult to share a common interest with

our ‘community’ as although we all live and work together we are still

segregated. We no longer trust one another; we lock our doors, put our

cars in garages and carry rape alarms in fear of an invasion from our

so-called neighbours. Aaron Davidson states that: “We no longer know

our neighbours because our busy stress filled lifestyles do not give

us time.” (Davidson. A, Online Communities vs. Classical Communities,

http://spaz.ca/aaron/school/online.html, Accessed 10th Nov 2005)

In an online, virtual community we are free from the fear of a

physical attack, and it would prove very difficult to steal a person’s

car via the Internet. It is for this reason joining a virtual

community can be a very uplifting and liberating experience for

people. In an online community we can discuss and share our views with

others from the safety and comfort of our homes without fear of a

physical or oral disagreement, which is an unsettling experience for

anyone in a real-life community.

Identity plays a huge role in a virtual community as we can become

anybody we want. Online a user does not have to disclose their real

name, gender, age, location, physical attributes or sexuality which

gets rid of the prejudices people face in every-day, real life.

Identity in the virtual community is ambiguous and as stated in the

book Web.Studies: “there is considerable scope for people to reveal

secrets, discuss problems, or even enact whole identities which they

would never do in the real world.” (Gauntlett. D/Horseley. R, 2004,

Web.Studies 2nd Ed, Arnold Publishing)

The above can also be said for those people with a disability or

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