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Virtual Communities

I use the Internet multiple times throughout the day, every day. I mainly use sites such as facebook, my emails, and course blogs to send my ideas and thought across as well as help maintain my social relationships. Even though I have not been a participant of such things like r.a.t.s and MUDs, I think that my facebook account satisfied my social needs. For instance, I am able to talk with my friends and those that I am only slightly acquainted with, I am able to join groups and post pictures that I like and take out ones that I don’t like of myself. I am able to be social without face-to-face interaction from the comfort of my bedroom. I have known some people that could spend hours and hours on facebook whether it was looking at other people’s profiles or loading their weekend partying pictures. I think that it is a sort of an escape and allows people who are shy to be more active and social than they otherwise would have been in a face-to-face situation. I think that it lets people express themselves freely because they can post their favorite quotes and random comments, and put a lot of information about themselves if they really wanted to. I like the fact that the only people who can see your profile your friends. I think that it really helps to create a sense of security and trust in the facebook community. I think that r.a.t.s does a similar thing where it satisfies some part of people’s social needs. People are able to post their comments on the different soap opera episodes and to talk with other about more serious issues by placing “TAN? in their subject line. I think that it lets people be more serious but at the same time have fun and enjoy reading the spoilers if they so chose to do.
Because of the way the Internet and computer-mediated communication has become a huge part of the way we keep in touch with people, I think that it will continue to decrease the amount of “face? time that we have with our families and friends. The more people will feel like they can be just as social if not more so when communicating online, the more time they will continue to spend in front of the screen.

The building of social communities and relationship ties are not foreign concepts to people. People like to have friends and families that they can communicate with and depend on for emotional support among many other needs. It used to be that people depended more on face-to-face contact with one another and that was until the creation of the Internet. The Internet opened doors to a different kind of communication; it made some things that were thought as impossible possible. A thing like communicating with someone clear across the world in a matter of seconds was unthought-of. MUDs, email, online chatting, and r.a.t.s connected people with each other and created the same emotional bonds and ties over time as did the face-to-face communication. R.a.t.s is something that I have not heard of until I read the article by Nancy K. Baym. I did not know that there were sites that people could go on to be updated on the latest episodes from different soap operas. It’s a community of their own because they all share a similar interest and there are certain norms that people need to abide by. R.a.t.s is one of the many “computer-mediated groups share the topics around which they organize, the system that links them, and the communication that passes between them? (103). Traditions develop in computer-mediated communities when there are prominent and prolific groups of people who have influence and power in guiding the formation of traditions. “Traditionalization occurs through a group’s communicative practice? (106). I found it interesting that people conducted a study on the demographic of the r.a.t.s participants. The study showed that there are approximately “72% females and 28% males? (105). I was more surprised to find that there were that many men who were participants in the group. That’s about a third of the participant population.
Another thing that I found interesting was the r.a.t.s offered a tangent section in the group. It let “those who have developed social relationships to enrich them by increasing the breadth of their interaction? (109). “Tangents are used as a forum for discussion issues of particular concern to women, including experiences with violence against women, worst dates, whether or not to change names when marrying, and more? (109-110).