Does online communication help face-to-face interaction?

In Transient Spaces on April 30, 2009 at 12:18 pm

We talked in the lecture yesterday about the role of virtual communities in geographical communities.

From my experience and examples I’ve seen, virtual communities do appear to support face-to-face communities. There is a scale though, and things can tip too far towards the virtual community.

Using Queen’s as an example, there are two main virtual communities used. Facebook, which most students are on, and the Queen’s intranet. The intranet is available to everyone in the college (including alumni) and has a directory of members, with photos and personal information. There is a calendar of events, information on the menu for the week, as well as an announcements board where most people get all their college information.

Most of the elements are practical and support the face-to-face side of Queen’s.

There are also forums, where you can post up topics, anything from lost items to your unhappiness with the dinner that night. This is also very useful. But you can certainly get to a stage where you end up spending too much time online to the detriment of the face-to-face relationships you have.

It’s a problem with Facebook as well. It’s an extremely useful social networking tool, but for some people it can end up taking over, or taking the place of face-to-face interactions.

Is this a bad thing? I guess different people would say different things. But I think it can definitely begin to be a negative thing to rely too much on sites like Facebook for entertainment, and even worse when it begins to take the place of face-to-face social interactions.


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