I could not agree more with Jenny. Abstention is a dangerous game when it comes social inclusion, especially looking at small groups of individuals across a digital and physical space. Perhaps the most salient point made here is there is the digital and physical divide is eroding when it comes to interactions, emotional connections and relationships. Looking at a small group of people, for example on Twitter, it is one thing to be a part of a ‘twitter group’ with various online rituals, but that does not fulfill all the emotional requirements to form a lasting and meaningful bond; there needs to be a real-world interaction.
I think that this is particularly interesting point to consider when we start thinking about how the social space is evolving and how to create meaningful relationships that carry across the digital and physical worlds, slowly coming to a point where there is almost no distinction. There are not only implications here for individuals and groups, but for the brands as well; what could this mean for brands trying to create true, positive relationships with customers? Is there a way for brands to ‘get in on’ this type of relationship building with consumers?
Is the web and ‘cyberspace’ really separate from reality? Why would we separate these relationships when that in fact destroys the relationships that we build online? Devaluing them?
I think that it is an interesting concept that PJ Rey wrestles with, but I feel like there is something missing from his argument: emotion. Getting too caught up in the semantics of what we call the web space and the physical space attributes too much meaning to the nomenclature and not enough to the emotions behind it. I agree that the web is now an integral part of our cultural fabric, but it’s important to understand to emotional motivations behind not only integrating into the wider culture, but also into our social emotions. Why do we call it cyberspace? Why do you we still separate our digital life from our physical life? We are not ready to merge them.
It’s like conditioning, exposing us bit by bit to the normalcy and interconnectedness of our digital and analog worlds; however, unlike Rey, I can’t agree with the fact that we need to see the digital and physical as the same things. This will take much more time for that sort of merge to take place, become a norm and become socially and emotionally acceptable. That merge challenges the core of our individual identities and discounting that is dangerous.
"This cultural movement to characterize the Web through the fantasy of cyberspace does violence to the very real social relationships that flow on and off the Web; it posits them as otherworldly and, as such, inessential to our lives.
Why is it, then, that we are so prone to denial and self-deception when it comes to the role that the Web plays in our culture? I believe that accepting the Web as integral to the fabric of reality threatens comfortable assumptions about our natures, about the essence of the self and its authenticity, and about our romantic conceptualization of the human soul. If the Web is enmeshed in every aspect of human life and we accept that the Web is real, then we must conclude that every aspect of our lives are synthetic—that nothing is “real” in Baudrillard’s romantic conceptualization of the term. McLuhan once presented just such a vision in televised debate:
'Whenever a new environment goes around an old one there’s always new terror… When you put a man-made environment around the planet, nature from now on has to be programmed… the [new man-made] environment is not visible, it’s electronic.'”"