A high school friend of mine (lets call her Mini) once quipped, “Don’t you know who I am on the Internet?” It was a pretty funny one liner to a group of girls in year 11 (she was really into blogging) – and it became a running joke slash comeback for a while there. I hadn’t really thought too much about Mini until I started studying Communication and Media, and it struck me that my friend, a well-liked, witty but often withdrawn girl, had an online personality that none of us really knew anything about. A few times she mentioned that she had heaps of ‘followers’ and I had a peak at her tumb1r once but wasn’t really into anything more than Facebook back then.
After reading Lessig, I started to wonder what online persona Mini had created and how true it was to her real life character. I’ve come to learn that becoming someone completely different is far too easy when you take a stroll in Cyberspace.
Lessig’s, ‘Four Puzzles From Cyberspace’, explores various issues that surround the online community that is cyberspace. Broadly defined here as a realm that encompasses all electronic interaction, it can also be said that Cyberspace is a place that exists only notionally (it’s not physical) however, it can easily become a secondary reality for users. People utilise cyberspace to create avatars via their online games or social media, providing them with an alternate reality; a place where they are not restricted by their physical appearance, or how people in their ‘real’ lives perceive them. It is essentially an escape.
Lessig explores in the story, “Jake’s Communities”, anonymity and how far-reaching cyberspace is in terms of its audience and participants.
Jake utilized the Internet to publish stories of unthinkable horror – rape, torture etc. – but no charges eventuated due to U.S. citizens being protected by the First Amendment.
The point I’m trying to make is, frequently people use cyberspace to express a part of their life that wouldn’t be accepted by others in the real world.
I’m not saying that Mini was an anonymous online publisher of illicit content but this point certainly applies to the likes of Jake, who used anonymity for all the wrong reasons.
**For your enjoyment: The clip below shows the first meeting between a couple who met online 😉 #cyberlove