We live in a world where the unimaginable is glorified through all sorts of media outlets like reality shows on television, music and music videos, online video games, and other virtual communities. Needless to say, people can escape from the materialistic world and enter into dynamism of self-cultivated virtual communities. As technology continues to develop, grow, and exponentially capture audiences of all ages there is a definite ambience as to whether virtual communities can be compared to the real world. Before distinguishing the similarities and differences of social interactions between virtual and face-to-face communities, it is imperative to understand what constitutes as a computer-mediated community.
Computer-mediated communities involve the regular interaction and development of relationships between people by means of the internet. There are a plethora of diverse virtual communities that circulate the web access (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MMORPG, etc), but each virtual community transmits the universal element of linking society together behind the screen.
At any rate, virtual communities can be broken down into smaller entities or subcultures. Gamers have the opportunity to flee from real-world stresses, and they can socialize in communion with other human gamers in a sequestered virtual world where they fight friends, family, and strangers from around the world. In comparison, face-to-face communities have subcultures that are defined by the physical spaces in which members distinguish themselves: school clubs, reunions, ceremonies, the local bar, and so on. Although both the virtual community and real-world community have their own assets that characterize a subculture’s geography (physical location vs. cyberspace), they both collectively bind new relationships with people that share the same interests, beliefs, values, and attitudes.
However, computer-mediated communities harbor the idea of a secondary world fantasized by real people. In other words, forming relationships and interacting with people is substituted by a click of a button. Virtual communities differ from face-to-face social interactions such that even language has its own special meaning. In virtual communities, language will appear foreign to a novice user who has never been exposed to the multitude of acronyms and abbreviations, whereas, face-to-face interaction anchor the benefit of body language via gestures and tone of voice.
As society continues to be stormed with technological advances, the conveniences of virtual communities will continue to immerse audiences of all horizons into the virtual universe. Identifying the relationship between virtual and non-virtual communities still spears a sense of ambivalence in society, but it is important to know that both overlap as the vehicle that promotes global communication and involvement, sharing of ideas, beliefs, values, and attitudes.