Cyberspace: the effects on the future of physical communication

Understanding the network society paradigm

Cyberspace is recreating our world’s social structure. Who shapes cyberspace? We do. It is said by Castells (2004) to be ‘microelectronics and software-based communication technologies’. Simply, our communication networks are powered by technology. The fact that it is universal means we as humans are redefining ‘freedom, structures of self government, definition of property, nature of competition, conditions for cooperation, sense of community and nature of progress’ Dyson (1994). This all sounds liberating, however, in this blog I’m going to reveal the negative effects of a distributed network flow.

“Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here”.- Barlow, J.P. (1996) A Declaration of the Independence of CyberspaceURL

The thing is we don’t know who is shaping this new and rapidly rising communication paradigm. We are all nodes at the end of the network, broadcasting to the entire world. So when this is the case how do we preserve the information flows? As Barlow (1996) expresses there is ‘no elected government’ in cyberspace, therefore we are condemned to a network of freedom and exist as one big happy family, right? Wrong. According to the ‘The Innovation of Loneliness (2003) looking pragmatically on this idea of the online social network will show we are all headed for a lonely life. This is because an unnoticed demand is placed on people to have a ‘social’ networking life. We are sacrificing our physical interaction for the mere feeling of connection through media platforms.

Let me show you what the video says about this new civilisation:

-it can’t be compared to a conversation which takes place in real time

-you can control what you’re about to say

-we edit ourselves

-we are obsessed with self promotion

In terms of social media, we are shaping a new world. Castells (2004) says because of this idea networks matter as they are the ‘underlying structure of our lives’. This may be true in the life of cyberspace however there are social implications in real life. ‘The Innovation of Loneliness talks about the notion ‘I share, therefore I am’ where we are slipping into the feeling of connection through networking online. We expect so much from technology that we believe the connection will make us less lonely when in fact in the end ‘we are ONLY going to know how to be lonely’….



Barlow, J.P. (1996) A Declaration of the Independence of CyberspaceURL

Castells, M. (2004) ‘Afterword: why networks matter’. In Network Logic: Who governs in an interconnected world? (pp. 221-224

Dyson, E., Gilder, G., Keyworth, G., Toffler, A. (1994) Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age

YouTube,. ‘The Innovation Of Loneliness’. N.p., 2015. Web. 15 Aug. 2015.


5 thoughts on “Cyberspace: the effects on the future of physical communication

  1. Well that video sure started another existential crisis rolling XD While I feel it is true, and something I never even realised, that connection and conversation aren’t actually the same thing…I want to disagree with the video. I want to disagree that we are substituting our loneliness with a mirage of social networking online or shunning real-life relationships in favour of the ‘cheap-fix’. Because i do feel it isn’t a cheap fix, we connect to people online for a means that can’t be obtained IRL, not necessarily because we don’t want to. We’re not deleting parts of physical-selves to create digital-selves, it’s just the same as putting on a professional smile when you serve a customer or whatever. Yet it does also seem like we intensely crave those 3 fantasies social networks offer, and are failing to meet the balance, which I think is what causes the loneliness. The inability to balance both, and remember that we don’t live in the digital, we live in the now.


  2. I really enjoyed reading your take on this lecture topic! Especially the ‘Innovation of Loneliness’ video, that was super on point. While I definitely do agree with the concepts you’ve shown, I also have the feeling that we’re all still in the early days of the internet and of social media platforms/networking sites in general. The idealistic side of me says that we’ll adapt. We’ll all learn from our mistakes and become more and more aware of balancing our digital presence with our online presence. Hopefully we’re all just going through a learning curve.


  3. As a marketing student, I love your take on this lecture topic..exploring the concept ‘how our communication on social media is about self-actualization, in which we are developing personal brands for ourselves and competing/editing ourselves to gain social connections’. What I didn’t realise, was how this is actually leading to a sense of loneliness!! Although it seems we have more friends and increasing connections, I agree that it has transformed into a realm where ‘quantity’ is more important than ‘quality’, allowing us to feel a sense of disconnect from reality. What I can see, is our personal brands providing benefit to corporations around the world, where they can follow our online actions and preferences to adapt their products and profit off our online identities. Your choice of video ‘The Innovation of Loneliness’ explains this well, where we are overly concerned with ‘having a career, wealth, self image and consumerism’. Really GREAT BLOG! Such an interesting read, where you have distinguished how the online realm can have negative effects on reality x


  4. This is a really good post! It’s simple and easy to follow yet it created enough depth for me to remain interested in the topic. I totally agree with the concept that we could be creating loneliness due to our constant absorption of social networks. The notion that cyberspace is affecting our physical being is really fascinating to think about. It will be interesting to see how we shape the internet, or it shapes us in the future, as some other coments above have said, this is just the beginning for the internet.


  5. This blog post is definitely one of the most informative, clear and aesthetically well done posts I’ve read so far!

    The way you related the idea of loneliness in typical social media networks to distributed information flows and networks was very, very cool and original. The idea behind the video might be a bit dated though – alienation through obsessing over online personas, prioritising quantity over quality in human interaction, and pretty much the notion of ‘I Share Therefore I Am’ in a nutshell – however it definitely still rings true to our growing lack of physical communication instead opting into media networks and cyberspace and you’ve summarised it so well!


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