Research Paper: Virtual Technology: Social Interactions

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Virtual Technology: Social Interactions

Traditionally, people attached a significant degree of importance to social interactions. Such interactions were considered the backbone of humanity; they came in handy in decision making and ensured that relatives and friends stayed connected to each other. The internet may, however, be slowly destroying all this; well, at least that is what the detachment brought about by virtual technology signifies. The internet may arguably be disconnecting us from the society and creating some imminent form of isolation. The traditional face-to-face conversations have more or less been replaced by instant text messages and e-mails. Social networks are an important aspect of internet technology. They, no doubt, provide great avenues for networking. However, they may drive people to spread themselves so thin, that they destroy the quality of social relations. Take, for instance, a person with over 2000 friends on Face Book, or followers on Twitter; there are high chances that such a person may not even remember the names of each one of them.

Virtual technology may, on the other hand, have some unique advantages. The fact that it provides platforms for both local and global connections helps people overcome the limits of distance. Additionally virtual technology, especially through social networks, has played a key role in reconnecting long-lost relatives and friends, as well as in effectively maintaining long-distance relations. Further, virtual systems provide mechanisms through which people can connect and share with others who have similar experiences and interests.

Thesis Statement

From the onset, it should be noted that in this digital era, it has become possible for a students to freely interact with their tutors through email. Such a situation could have two opposing implications. First, this is an easier, and would naturally be a very convenient way to communicate. The second implication is that the student misses out on the benefits that would have accrued if the interaction was more direct and personal.

Virtual technology uses more or less the same logic; and it, therefore, has both positive and negative implications. This text illustrates the opposing effects of virtual technology on social interactions. It examines how a number of aspects which hugely rely on social interactions have been influenced by internet technology. It will then, finally, give a personal judgment as to whether virtual technology was a positive or negative innovation.

Internet Technology on Relationships

The internet has, since its inception, had massive influence on human relationships. I will, however, dwell on two of these; professional and dating relationships. These two forms of relationships have, in my opinion, been affected the most.

Professional relationships: The internet has improved efficiency and enabled better time management in work settings. Meetings, for instance, which are a common phenomenon in work environments, have been made more efficient through improved information flow. Additionally, the internet has made it easier to organize for the same. E-mails can be effectively used to notify employees of the venues and agendas of certain meetings. This way, the bureaucracy and ineffectiveness associated with the traditional manual methods such as internal memos is avoided.

Dating Relationships: The internet provides dating sites which work at match-making and linking people to partners with the same likes, dislikes, and interests. Additionally, people are able to 'share' their lives through photos, videos, etc. This facilitates the development and sustenance of meaningful relations (Human Kinetics). People from all walks of life have, in some way, benefited from online dating platforms (Hertlein and Blumer 38). The implication is that people get to develop vast connections and wider social networks. Additionally, potential relationship barriers such as age, shyness, etc., are essentially eliminated (Hertlein and Blumer 23). The growth and impact of virtual technology on relationships can be attributed to a number of factors. These include social networks, discussion forums and chat rooms, and online games (Human Kinetics).

The Costs of Virtual Technology on Relationships

Virtual technology has partly played a role in the high rates of divorce and job losses witnessed in the recent past. There are instances when "people have been fired from their jobs or put under pressure because they use these sites at work," or for posting information that is detrimental to their profession (Human Kinetics).

The issue of misrepresentation and lack of seriousness gives rise to the second concern. Cornwell and Lundgren, in a study, established that a significant number of dating-site users either give untrue information, or are not at all serious about the relationships they form online. The sites lack adequate mechanism for detection and prevention of such misrepresentations. For instance, a married person could essentially pose as being single. The damage (immediate and future) this could cause to potential soul mates could be immense (Cornwell and Lundgren).

Internet Technology on Political Interactions

The e-democracy innovation can be considered the most significant effect of internet technology on political administration (OECD 12). E-democracy deals with getting the citizens involved in the law-formulation process (OECD 12). This seeks to ensure a more interactive form of administration. Essentially, the semantic web and social networks have over the years facilitated the development of e-democracy.

E-democracy can, for instance, take the form of "electronic discussion groups for the deliberation and development of policy options," electronic petitions, e-referenda, etc. (OECD 14). Virtual technology would be key in achieving the objectives of governance. The two major stakeholders in political interactions are the citizens and the politicians. I will examine how each one has been affected by virtual technology.

The Citizens: The internet provides platforms through which citizens can make their voices heard. The internet, for instance played a major role in the Egyptian Revolution; 18 days was all it took for a Face Book page to garner support sufficient enough to oust the country's then president, Hosni Mubarak (Satariano and Wong 270).

Politicians: The internet offers an attractive ground for political campaigns. This can be attributed to its wide coverage and low costs. Essentially, the internet makes it possible for politicians (and the civil society) to engage with members of the public. This kind of engagement is crucial in the formulation of governance policies and strategies. In Australia, for instance, politicians are able to engage with local agencies, communities and the civil society through the Gulf savannah e-democracy project (United Nations / DESA 23).

World leaders acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of the internet in governance. During a 2010 tour in China, Hilary Clinton termed the invention of the internet as a 'blessing,' but still recognized that malicious people have managed to use the same to spread messages of violence and hatred. In her words, unscrupulous governments are using the internet to "crush dissent and deny human rights" (U.S. Department of State)

Virtual Technology in Business

Like many other sectors, the business world has significantly felt the effect of virtual technology. I will dwell on two of these effects; business outsourcing and e-commerce. Through the internet, businesses get to learn of opportunities in other countries. Outsourcing is one way of exploring such opportunities. Businesses processes outsourcing "could not have happened without the internet" (Schifferes). E-commerce, on the other hand, enables businesses to sell their products via the internet. This way, they are able to access broader markets and hence increase their sales revenues. Additionally, sites such as eBay facilitate business operations by creating markets in areas where they originally were non-existent (Schifferes).

The consumer, in the end, benefits a great deal from all this. First, there are a variety of products to choose from; and secondly, the high levels of competition in the virtual market ensure the production of high-quality products. The effects of the internet on business can be summarized through the theory of the 'long tail'. The theory holds that "as the internet lowers the cost of keeping inventory and storage, it allows firms to keep in stock items that would… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Virtual Technology: Social Interactions.  (2013, November 30).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/virtual-technology-social-interactions/5478795

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"Virtual Technology: Social Interactions."  Essaytown.com.  November 30, 2013.  Accessed May 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/virtual-technology-social-interactions/5478795.