The Nature of Online Communities Essay

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The Nature of Online Communities

What brings people together on the internet? Is it the desire to find a friend and a community or is it the other extreme of finding someone to argue with and release all the anger that has built up inside? Do people not like who they are in real life and find the internet as a place to have a new identity, the person that they have always wanted to be? Or, is it what Rheingold states in his article “The Virtual Community,” “virtual communities treat them as they always wanted to be treated – as thinkers and transmitters of ideas and feeling beings, not carnal vessels with a certain appearance and way of walking and talking” (95)? Maybe it is one of these things or a combination of many
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The members of this community have the opportunity to meet and chat, if they so desire, through MSN instant messenger.

After searching through the “Who’s Who” board and the member profiles, I discovered that a majority of the members are adults, mostly in their thirties or forties. A majority of the members are females, but there are a few male chocolate and coffee lovers sprinkled throughout the bunch. Ironically though, these adults have filled the general post board full of games to play. Rarely are there any personal stories or “serious” posts on the board. Most of them consist of “let’s post cool quotes that we’ve found,” “post pictures of cute animals” (Animal GIFs 10-6-02), or the most interesting one, “type a message in wingdings font and decipher that and write a new message in response in wingdings” (The Wingdings Game 10-6-02). (Wingdings is the font that is purely characters and not real letters.) Out of approximately fifty members, only ten people post daily on this site and communicate with each other on a regular basis. I did observe one serious post when one of the women had a personal crisis and posted on her experiences. She instantly received a tremendous amount of support from a majority of the members. Her virtual community was there to offer encouragement and love in her times of trials.

This community is full of love, laughter, and good times. Their language is extremely
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