Communities and Social Media · Uncategorized

The Internet and the Evolution of Community

The advent of the internet has revolutionised the way we live our lives. We work and play on the internet as if it were another physical place – most of us exist in some capacity in this other dimension, as do our extended networks and communities. Delanty (2018) describes the community offered by the internet as a thin version of what we experience in person, and many people in our current pandemic consumed world would argue that after months of lockdown, this thin version of community offered by the internet is not an adequate substitute for face to face connections with family and friends. However, we are increasingly finding an internet enabled community is a suitable substitute for the kind of extended community we require in today’s world. Most of us learned very quickly that a Zoom call with our nearest and dearest is just not the same as a hug, but the reliance we have on those individuals on the fringe of our community – neighbours, special interest groups and our extended social network – is happily and seamlessly replaced with the thin community enabled by the internet. Many of us no longer need favours from our neighbours, we can mix with like minded people virtually, and receive up to date information directly to our phones. Over recent decades, our lifestyle has changed enabled by the functions of the internet, and it is only fitting that our evolved requirements of community are happily fulfilled by the internet also – just because something is virtual, does not mean it is not real. While living our lives on the internet is not the same as existing within a more traditional form of community, it is an appropriate platform to operate day to day in our internet reliant 21st century civilisation.

Generations before ours will remember popping over the road to borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbour if they found themselves short when baking a cake. Whereas now, when we find ourselves in need, many of us would not dare knock on a neighbour’s door for a favour – many of us do not even know our neighbour’s names. Should we not be up for a trip to the shops, an UberEats driver is only a few taps away and the sugar will soon be at our door, without even the need for a conversation thanks to contactless delivery. In fact, if you do not want to even bake the cake, your UberEats driver will deliver one instead, along with a myriad of both edible and non edible supplies. Out of toilet paper? No problem, your delivery driver will have that to you in less than thirty minutes. Headache? Your Panadol will be on its way before you have even finished reading this paper. The quintessential neighbourly duty of lending a cup of sugar is no more, and its replacement is an app.

We do not require a lasagne dropped at the doorstep when someone is sick or has just brought home a new baby – YouFoodz will drop off prepared meals, the Woolworths app enables us to get our groceries delivered and Amazon will get just about anything we need to our door in a matter of hours, with the promise of drone deliveries enticingly close. Dablanc et al (2017) asserts, “Instant delivery services provide on-demand delivery within two hours – by either private individuals, independent contractors, or employees – by connecting consignors, couriers and consignees via a digital platform.” We do not rely on our local community for help anymore, we rely on our smartphones – our command centres. While one may argue that a reliance on share economy based apps is still a reliance on people within the community, ordering from such an app is simply a business transaction that is occurring enabled by the internet – a simple equation of supply and demand supported by the platform the internet provides with no such neighbourly connotation. “The improved match-making between supply and demand facilitates the use of spare transport capacity and new sets of providers also on short distances with little time available.” (Dablanc et al, 2017). We no longer require what we may think of as a traditional idea of community because the internet has replaced many facets of it with increased availability of services in real time. Community, as previous generations experienced it, has evolved to an internet dependent society with little reliance on other individuals.

Scenes of family and friends being reunited following pandemic lockdowns have flooded our newsfeeds for the past year, and many of us can relish in the joy that was seeing a loved one in person after weeks or months of Facetime conversations which instead should have been face to face. But beyond our immediate social circle, other social groups seamlessly operated online during lockdowns. Even prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, many of us were finding like minded strangers online and enjoying this opportunity to interact with them, all from the comfort of our own homes. Gone are the days of a church hall meet up for a special interest group – groups such are these are increasingly taking to social media, particularly Facebook, to connect their members. Whether it be crafting, parenthood or gaming, all these connections can be facilitated by social media, sometimes to even better effect. We do not need to wait for a letter, or a telegraph. Issues such as geographical proximity can be instantaneously overcome as Wellman (2007) asserts, “Internet accounts and mobile phone numbers are person-based and not place-based.”

Community members of generations past may have met new friends or their romantic partners at a local community function, a party, or at work. And while this may still be true when these events do take place in person, is it so surprising that as we now meet, socialise and work on the internet, that we form new relationships, whether it be romantic or otherwise, on the internet also? Rosenfeld & Thomas (2012) concurs, “The Internet appears to be displacing, to a certain extent, the more traditional ways of meeting partners, such as through friends, through family, in school, or in the neighbourhood.”

Facebook is the local church hall of the 21st century, and no matter how obscure your chosen hobby or interest may be, you can bet that there are dozens, potentially hundreds or even thousands, of groups available to you to join on Facebook and similar social networking applications. Rosenfeld & Thomas (2012) assert, “While it is true that the Internet has made communications within existing social networks more efficient (as did the telephone), the Internet also has dramatically improved the efficiency of searching for and finding new people outside of one’s pre-existing social network.” The use of hashtags enables the user to find specific content instantaneously on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram and allow interactions between the content creator and the viewer, enabling them to form a connection. While from the outside this may be viewed as a thin connection compared to one that may occur in person, the substance of the connection can realistically only be determined by the people participating in it. It is their perception of the interaction that really matters after all.

As with many aspects of our lives that have now become redundant since the advent of the internet, for many of us, the physical community noticeboard is a thing of the past, with the spread of information and communication with those in our local area now taking place virtually. “Interactions have moved inside private homes—where most entertaining, telephoning, and emailing takes place—and away from chatting in public spaces such as bars, street corners, and coffee shops.” (Wellman, 2007). We do not need to knock on a neighbour’s door to see if they have lost power when our power goes out – we get a text to our smartphones from our energy companies confirming the fact that the power has indeed gone out, or we can simply check their website for up the minute outage information. Lost something at the park? Post on your neighbourhood’s Facebook group and chances are you will have it back soon enough by engaging with your local community digitally. If you are looking to dodge a speed camera in your local area, there is an app for that too. The internet has facilitated many methods of communication with those in our surrounding area, and beyond, with all the information being user generated but without ever having to know a name or even acknowledge someone’s existence. Wellman (2007) asserts, “Online relationships are filling empty spots in people’s lives now that they no longer wander to the local pub or café to take up with their neighbors.” And why would you when you can gain any relevant information through your smartphone?

Facebook groups, apps and text alerts are all the norm now, and while the spreading of information via the internet is nothing new, its effectiveness, speed and reliability of communication increases our dependency on this method. This is in stark contrast to the physical noticeboard, or Chinese whispers of generations past and instead provides us with up to date, to the minute, and reliable information directly from the source. While there may be those who still idealise a community where these interactions occur face to face, and view these interactions as the core of community, Delanty (2018) asserts, “It cannot be denied that virtual communities are no less real than other kinds of communities. They constitute an important dimension of cosmopolitan community more generally.” We cannot reject the notion that the internet’s interpretation of community is no such community at all, because while it may not look the same as it used to, it has evolved to support what we now require from a community today.

The Covid 19 pandemic has cemented for many of us in our minds how reliant we are as a society on the internet, but it has also highlighted the capacity that the internet possesses to facilitate our contemporary concept of community. While many will argue the internet is a poor and incomprehensive substitute for the kind of community previous generations enjoyed, we no longer require that kind of community, and as such the internet is a sufficient space for what we now require from our extended network. We work online, manage our lives online, order such basic necessities as food online, so why are we surprised that our social networks and our extended network of community also operate and have adapted to existing online effectively? We do not lean on neighbours for favours as we can access alternative services in real time ourselves. Our reliance on social interaction with those in close geographical proximity to us is no longer as we can gain this social connection seamlessly through social media websites with only the user able to judge how substantial, fulfilling and ‘real’ these interactions are. The internet has also replaced the need for face to face communication with those surrounding us to spread information, as all relevant information can be accessed in the palm of our hand on our phones. While the internet has changed the landscape for what community looks like in the 21st century, it has also provided the appropriate platform for this new look type of community to exist.

Works Cited

Dablanc, L., Morganti, E., Arvidsson, N., Woxenius, J., Browne, M., & Saidi, N. (2017). The Rise of ON-DEMAND ‘Instant Deliveries’ in European Cities. Supply Chain Forum: An International Journal, 18(4), 203-217. doi:10.1080/16258312.2017.1375375

Delanty, G. (2018). Community: 3rd edition (3rd ed.). Chapter Nine. Routledge.

Rosenfeld, M., & Thomas, R. (2012). Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary. American Sociological Review, 77(4), 523-547. doi:10.2307/41723048

Wellman, B. (2005). Community: From Neighbourhood to Network. Communications of the ACM, 48(10), 53-55. doi:10.1145/1089107.1089137

26 thoughts on “The Internet and the Evolution of Community

  1. Hello Jessica.

    This has been an interesting piece of writing. You have profoundly delved in the understanding of the digital age while also engage your readers with the evolution of the modern community. It is undeniably a matter of fact that nowadays people have devoted much of their time on the Internet and regard it as a third space. From news sharing, recent occurrences to a better quality of lifestyle, the online world has definitely shaped a community of collaborative yet informative individuals across the world. However, it does come with its setbacks given the fast development in technology notably the spreading of fake information.

    Do you firmly believe that the online community will be able to cope with the rapid spread of information and in knowing how to distinguish between the fake and real?

    It would be greatly appreciated if you could have a say on my paper:

  2. Hi Jessica,

    Your paper was quite enjoyable to read. Like many other commenters have already stated I do agree that I can agree with your points especially during this time of the Covid 19.

    Before Covid 19, while people were heavily using internet to run their lives it didn’t in a way control them. As we can see now what the internet is capable are we surprised that we can now order food and grocery through the internet. I feel like we have relied on it so much that we may lose what it means to socialize with another person.

    For me one of the greatest idea during Covid 19, is the opportunity to work from home. My work is mostly online and I think many people who are in similar jobs to me would agree that this the best idea. Mind you, think most people are happy to sleep in longer and have less travelling time.

    Also another idea that internet has allowed us is to be able to go for virtual check ups. Currently, I know that a person who is sick is able to do a video or phone call with their doctor but 2 years ago this wasn’t possible as many people were not sure how a doctor can tell you what you have without doing a check up. With Covid 19, I know that tech giants such as Apple and Samsung are currently trying to create apps that allow you to use your phone to do x-rays and send it your doctor to look at. This idea currently sounds crazy but it is something we may have to look in the future of the internet.

    What are your thoughts.

    Great Paper.

  3. Hi Jessica! What a topic you’re writing, You represent me in terms of thinking about how the online and internet really changed the generations. Everything went online right now especially I experienced the advantage of doing online activities last year during the lockdown in Perth. Without the presence of online technology, the whole year will be filled with nothing since everything’s closed.

    My question is in your opinion will the internet technology continues to transform into something bigger? will internet make as if there was no room and space anymore in the future? and in your opinion where will the internet goes in the future?

  4. Hi Jessica,

    I quite enjoyed you paper as I believe it did a good job of illustrating how community has changed as a result of the internet through the many comparisons you made between practices before and after the internet such as that of asking your neighbour for a favour. I personally found these comparisons useful as I have grown up with the internet and have no experience of the time before it was widely integrated with our lives. This meant that the comparisons greatly helped in my understanding of how even things such as dating have changed.

    I would be interested in your opinion on weather the changes you have outlined have strengthened or weakened communities as a whole.

  5. Hi Jessica, I really enjoyed reading your paper. It relates to me because I have also been working from home since the pandemic hit, so I have been pondering the idea of community from a corporate sense. Now that the cities have started opening back up again, many companies are working through ideas on how to entice their workers back into the office. They have to accept that people want more flexibility and choice in their work days, and are leaning towards a hybrid working style. Like you, I am also an introvert, so working from home has been an ideal situation and the idea of going back to commuting 4 hours a day into the city is horrendous.
    I agree with you that we have become even more reliant on the internet in the past year – my paper examines this following on the Facebook news ban:
    I agree with you that the internet provides a new contemporary community – but I would argue this community is not healthy. Virtual connection is no match for human connection and the impact it can have on our mental health. I’m sure you’ve heard of the popular phrase, we are more connected than ever, yet lonelier than ever. Unsurprisingly the rates of loneliness increased during the pandemic, despite our connectedness. Studies show that loneliness can have detrimental affects on our health.
    Yes, the internet has replaced our need for face-to-face communication, but at what cost to our health? I have seen a marked decrease in the amount of incidental ‘bump-in’ conversations I have with people now. Those people I would see on my way to work, those co-workers I would have a conversation with that would result in a new idea – this is all gone since the pandemic. I wonder what affect this will have on our mental health in the long term?

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks so much for reading my paper and for your considered comments.
      The implications of working remotely for the corporate world are very interesting. I cannot speak from personal experience, however aside from managing the logistics of working from home with kids screaming in the hall, I know one thing my husband has found challenging in this shift is the lack of corridor conversations he now has. He estimates that previously half of his outcomes were achieved in these informal exchanges, not in structured meetings, and having to navigate the business world without these interactions has been a huge adjustment for him. On the flip side, like you, he enjoys the extra time he gains from not having to commute, and it will be interesting how this hybrid working style evolves. I hope you are able to find a balance that works for you!
      In terms of our mental health, I’m sure this period in our lives will be extensively studied and the repercussions of our forced isolation will be a topic of interest for many years to come. Another commenter, Sonia, touched on perhaps a shift in what is now a socially acceptable level of engagement with others. Only time will tell, but I guess we all just need to do our best in the meantime to find a balance of what is right for us as individuals as we try to navigate this once in a lifetime (here’s hoping!) pandemic.

  6. Hey Jessica!
    Hope you’re keeping well. It’s been a while I read your paper and this got my mind blown up. I sincerely agree with you on how the advent of internet have swapped our lives from a centralized system to a distributed network system. You also mentioned about Delanty (2018)’s statement; “the community offered by the internet as a thin version of what we experience in person”, which was quiet impressive. I concur how he described the current community as a thin version. Furthermore, You mentioned above, “While many will argue the internet is a poor and incomprehensive substitute for the kind of community previous generations enjoyed, we no longer require that kind of community, and as such the internet is a sufficient space for what we now require from our extended network”, which I contradict. We cannot pass over the fact that internet has benefited us in many ways. For instance, with the help of an Internet connection, anyone can help fund projects and ideas that interest them or quickly donate to their favorite charity. Also, if you want to donate and looking for charity services, you can find many online services on the Internet that help make it easier to support their causes or help donate. What I am trying to conclude is that it’s always a choice. Some people can be altered by the internet and some people still follow the trend. Let me know what you think about it!

    1. Hi Noodish,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my paper!
      It certainly is a choice – I can’t imagine a time when bricks and mortar stores do not exist, or we exclusively hold all our social catch ups via Zoom. The internet has afford us the opportunity to be fluid in our interactions – perhaps we get our groceries delivered, but still attend a craft workshop in person on a Thursday night. But one day should we choose to attend the workshop virtually instead, that is now an option. Like many things, there is no singular way of going about our lives, but the internet is offering us increased opportunities to exist within our communities online – should we so choose to!
      Of course this all comes down to personal preferences – perhaps those choosing to operate in their communities virtually could be a community within themselves!

  7. Dear Jessica,
    Thanks for your paper! I enjoyed reading it.
    For no known reason I was thinking about hikikomori, the group of people mostly described in Japan who withdraw from the community
    I wonder if the internet and also later Coronavirus have enabled some individuals who would not have otherwise withdrawn from society to become Hikikomori? Pushed the threshold of what society would regard as a ‘normal’ level of engagement with society a bit?
    best wishes, sonia

    1. Hi Sonia,
      Thanks so much for reading my paper and for your very interesting comments!
      Hikikomori was not a term I had heard of before – how fascinating! I’m not going to lie, as a very introverted person, the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns were often enjoyable, and not as hard on me as I know they were on many. Perhaps my nature is the reason my paper subject appealed to me! Certainly there are incidental interactions with people that we can now avoid because of the internet, whether this be the people in line at the grocery store or the waiter at a restaurant. Ubereats doesn’t even knock on your door now!
      I wonder how this has affected people who actively avoid people day to day. If they now shop online, would they miss the incidental interactions when they were previously forced to go to shops for supplies? Were these seemingly insignificant interactions enough to fill up their metaphorical social cup, or are they relishing in the increased isolation that the internet now affords them? I personally love having the option to not leave the house, but still having the ability to make contact with the outside world, and I would agree that what we accept as ‘normal’ levels of engagement with society has definitely shifted – what a fascinating observation!

  8. Hi Jessica

    I really enjoyed your paper and I can relate to all the points in your argument, particularly your examples of the covid pandemic and the almost instant delivery of almost anything you could ever possibly need 🙂

    I do have a nagging thought in my head however that despite this explosion of online communities thanks very much to the COVID pandemic, that they can also be very much enhanced by the face to face communities that exist within them.

    There is much to be gained through humans meeting face to face that can not be achieved online – body language is an example that comes to mind. Something that is very difficult to translate into words or emoticons and even on Zoom calls.
    During the pandemic in Melbourne I was (still am) a member of an online community that organised an event for when we were finally able to meet in person. Once isolation was over and the community was able to meet face to face, the benefits to many members of this community were huge in terms of “really” seeing others and interacting. Although these individuals were not each others’ nearest and dearest, I suspect the opportunity to interact in person was quite significant from a psychological and social point.

    Thanks again for sharing your paper. I’m off to order dinner via Uber Eats LOL.


    1. Hi Louise,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply to my paper!
      I think you can exist in communities in person and digitally in parallel with one another. Certainly tone and emotion are hard for even the best writers to convey, especially without the use of emoticons (what would we do without them! 😛 ) The option to exist virtually within communities is not at the exclusion of all others, but is exactly that – an option.
      We can go to a restaurant and be incidentally social, or we can order Ubereats and see no other humans. But it is the internet that has afforded us these opportunities, and the seemingly dramatic take up of these services certainly suggests a shift to our approval as a society for them.
      I hope your Ubereats was delicious – I’ll be making dinner tonight from my groceries left contactless on my doorstep this morning! 🙂

  9. Hi Jessica,

    Your paper was a good read, and it is interesting to learn a topic almost opposite to what I have written about in my paper. I tend to disagree with your overarching argument. I see your point in saying that social media has made it easier to connect with people in this modern world we live in, though I agree with Delanty’s (2018) statement; online communities do not compare to face-to-face connections. Have you considered the detrimental effects of social networking sites and how they stray from creating communities?

    In my paper, I have discussed the isolation that social media brings many adolescents, due to addiction and mental illness. Here is a link if you would like to read:

    I hope you can consider my argument.

    Scout Robertson

    Delanty, G. (2018). Community: 3rd edition (3rd ed.). Chapter Nine. Routledge.

    1. Hi Scout,
      Thanks so much for reading my paper and for your thought provoking comments!
      Obviously the concept of existing on the internet is an extremely complex and still evolving one, and certainly not something that could be comprehensively explored in a 2000 word paper. There are many mental health implications associated with our increased internet usage, and opting to exist at an increased capacity on the internet is not going to be for everybody. I suppose at the end of it all, the aim of my paper was to highlight the possibilities available to us through the internet. I was not claiming this is what we should do, but what we could do, should we so choose to. Until our physical beings are stored in pods Matrix style, humans will continue to interact face to face, but if we want to move through our communities virtually instead, the internet has given us the platform to do this.
      I will endeavour to read your paper ASAP, and give you my thoughts on this too 🙂

  10. Jessica,
    Reading your paper today struck a cord with me. Today I attended a funeral. It was for an older member of society who had many long time friends and family in attendance and whilst I was listening to the stories and watching the photo slide of all the personal engagement and involvement in various community groups he maintained over the years, I did wonder what would the funerals of the future look like? A morbid thought maybe, but with your paper in mind and the suggestion that gone are the days of getting to know our neighbours and more online engagement fulfilling our social needs, what would that look like when we passed on? Would we have the numbers of friends and family that we see today built up over time and in-person engagement through community groups, or will we see a decline of in-person social connections as a result of our online connections?

    You mention that “While many will argue the internet is a poor and incomprehensive substitute for the kind of community previous generations enjoyed, we no longer require that kind of community, and as such the internet is a sufficient space for what we now require from our extended network.” I do wonder whether it’s “we no longer require that kind of community” or have we forgotten what that kind of community is like due to long term engagement online? Food for thought.

    Please feel free to read my paper on the music fandom community:

    1. Hi Carolyn,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper, and my condolences to you. I hope you are okay!
      Funerals do tend to have the profound effect of making us reflect on our lives, and the mark we hope to leave on other’s.
      I would argue that perhaps the internet enables us to better keep closer ties with those we encounter along our journey. Speaking purely from personal experience, I have many people on my Facebook that I would not have maintained a relationship with otherwise once our paths had ceased to cross ie. work colleagues from previous jobs, friends of friends etc. This is not because I do not care for them, but the nature of life is that people come and go. Social media has allowed them to maintain a passive presence in my life, and as such I know what they’re up to, what their kids names are etc. and in the sad event that they were to pass away, I would certainly attend their funeral. Had we not spoken in the ten years or so since we worked together, or whatever said scenario was, I don’t know that I would.
      But this is just my example – it certainly is an interesting thought to ponder. I suppose only time will tell! I would also argue however that the number of attendees at one’s funeral is not necessarily the best measure of their life – but it sounds like the funeral you attended was full of love and great memories 🙂

      1. Hi Jessica,
        Thank you for your condolences. You raise good points about being in touch with those you may have otherwise let slide if it wasn’t for digital technology. It will be interesting to see over time how this pans out, particularly if our contacts increasingly become diverse in their locations. Maybe with the online contact, rather than scanning the death notices in the newspaper, more people will be able to stay abreast of the lives and deaths of their contacts. Maybe scanning the newspaper for death notices will become a thing of the past. A very random reply to your paper I’m sure, thank you for replying.

  11. Hi Jessica,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your interpretation of the online and offline communities and the consequences of the pandemic in modern social networking sites, this was a great use of incredibly relevant issue occurring within society. I personally enjoyed the levels of contrast to pre-covid to post/current covid and each setting was altered to suit out demands.

    I personally agree on the points you disclosed within your conference paper, the pandemic certainly put in perspective of the segmentation of society and the gaps that social media are able to fill within an individual’s personal time. This ability encourages collaboration and connection between users with like minded interests.

    Since the rapid innovation of social media, I personally have recognised the levels of social interaction have significantly decreased and user participation increase online, what do you personally believe the reasoning behind this?

    1. Hi Che-Anne,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and for reading my paper!
      My personal belief is that we are increasingly time poor, and that certain interactions are more convenient and time efficient when they take place online. Oftentimes, I find myself unable to reply to an email or a text message during the day and end up replying late at night, far beyond the socially acceptable times to visit or phone someone. I still enjoy this interaction, and benefit from the sociability of it, but it is enabled by the digital platform it is occurring on and not restricted by a timeframe.
      I think another benefit of interacting socially online is the brief incidental interactions we are able to have – perhaps you have people in your social circle that you wouldn’t necessarily make plans to meet up with, but you are able to maintain a relationship with them through a Facebook comment or an Instagram like. I would be interested to see the correlation between the size of an individual’s extended social circle in relation to the rise of social media!
      At its core however, and as harsh as this may sound, I have so little time for socialising and have to reserve my available time for those closest to me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have other people that I care about though, and being able to keep in touch virtually during busy periods of my life without sacrificing time with my immediate circle, is a valuable tool, at least for me. I would love to know your thoughts on this too!

      1. Hey Jessica!
        I wholeheartedly agree with your summary mentioned above! I too find myself struggling with time management of modern society. The struggle of creating an online persona that captures the essence of myself offline is often a task that causes a lot of anxiety and pressure, meeting the requirements in order to gain a honest review of myself and who i hope to be. Without the use of social media within my life i would have hardly any interaction as I am constantly working, and studying.

        Social media is a mechanism for myself to maintain friendships with family members and friends whom i have since moved away from, this allows me to connect and check in with how they are going and what is going on within their lives. It it rather hard to achieve this without the help of social media so like yourself i find myself torn in the best way to approach the ongoing shift from offline to a suddenly online community. I hope you find this also relatable and comforting!

  12. Hi Jessica,
    Hope you are fine!

    Your topic is indeed very interesting and your paper really reflects the impact of the internet revolution and the importance of online platforms. That’s true this innovation has significantly affected the lifestyle across the globe.

    I like how you have given details on how covid-19 has effectively accelerated the rise of the digital economy. Your arguments were solid and you used a lot of recent examples to back up your ideas. There is one small detail that I would like to point out though. You talked a lot about the internet and how did dramatically change our daily life and I think including the importance of digital convergence would support your argument. Overall, it is a nice paper.

    Best regards

    1. Hi Marwah,
      Thanks so much for reading my paper and for your comments!
      I think the pandemic has definitely accelerated the rise of the digital economy – and how could it not when so many of us were unable to leave our homes for extended periods of time?! While essential supplies were still available in person, so many of us took to the internet to gain access to goods and services that were then unavailable otherwise. For someone who relies heavily on the internet to operate day to day, I am extremely adverse to the ebook – I much prefer a physical book. Without access to online stores while in lockdown, a book is something that I would not have been able to obtain. Another stand out example for me is the shift to online medical prescriptions – something that now seems so obvious and simple, but was non existent pre-pandemic, and the advent of the pandemic caused this change to occur rapidly.
      As you have pointed out, the paper could have benefitted from touching on digital convergence – certainly a massive enabler of the shift as we streamline the internet’s offerings and integrate its functions into our everyday lives, and our communities. A missed opportunity definitely, and certainly food for thought moving forward!

  13. Hi Jessica!
    This was an interesting read and really puts into perspective the communities online and how it affects us, especially today.
    I agree with the fact that the internet is definitely not a substitute for face-to-face interactions and especially with the pandemic going on, it is extremely difficult not to use this as a substitute as it is the only way people/families can keep in touch with their friends and families.
    I think that the advancement in technology and the internet has allowed communities to evolve now more than ever and this increases the efficiency as people can order/get things one with just an app which is extremely convenient today.
    I don’t think the internet can ever replace face-to-face interactions, however, I do think that the lack of face-to-face interactions through the use of the internet has made people more appreciative of physical interactions with other people. In my opinion, I feel like nowadays people will cherish the idea of physical interactions due to the lack of. What are your thoughts?
    Overall, a great read 🙂

    1. Hi Saranya,
      Thanks so much for reading my paper and for taking the time to comment!
      I guess my overall view on this is that the internet has enabled community to look a lot different than what it was prior to its invention, but whether the person you are communicating with is in front of you in person, or on a screen, they are still a person. We still require human community, but how could it not look different with such a huge shift in the way we utilise the internet for so many parts of our lives? I’m not suggesting that we all lock ourselves in our homes and only interact online, but having the ability to function in some part on the internet is incredibly convenient, and often preferable, than operating in the real world when we are all so time poor. It is this function of the internet, that enables us to interact online with our greater community, that is causing a shift.
      However like you have said, time with our nearest and dearest – people you would share a meal with, watch a movie with, etc – is not the same when these interactions take place online. But if our interactions with those on the periphery of our extended circle are more time efficient when taking place online, why would wee not utilise this tool to free up time for face to face interactions with those we cherish? Time with these people is special, and I would agree that many of us are much more appreciative of this time with the perspective that the pandemic has given us.

  14. Hi Jessica,
    Nice conference paper!
    I agree with the idea that the pandemic has somewhat consumed world.
    And liked that you addressed the debate of whether or not it has changed for the better or for the worse. Your perspective was very strong, giving very valid arguments on how the internet is not a good enough substitute for face-to-face interactions. Another example of this could be evident in online learning too and how students are responding (e.g. through recent feedback, Curtin students have demonstrated that they are against the adapted method). Do you agree with this feedback? Do you think this substitution of F2F learning will greatly effect the future? It would be an interesting discussion.

    This conference paper really highlights the laziness of the innovation of our generation. I think people of today are so caught up in apps and value convenience with technology (e.g. UberEats) and you’ve done really well to address this. Considering everything, this was enjoyable to read and created an insightful discussion.

    1. Hi Kira,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my paper!
      I find your comments around remote learning interesting. I have been studying my degree part time for the last six years, and 100% of this has been online, so I suppose that is one facet of the shift caused by the pandemic that I had not considered. For me personally, being able to study online has been the only thing that has enabled me to study – I simply would not have been unable to should physical attendance be required. I imagine if you were used to face to face learning that the shift to online would be quite jarring. I have previously studied on campus (over a decade ago!) and can appreciate that there are elements that are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. The first thing that comes to mind is the sense of community enjoyed by being in the same room as your fellow students, and that human factor which is tricky online. Emojis are not quite appropriate for an academic setting, and tone can only be conveyed so much through text! Yet here we are, all participating in an online conference, and still enjoying the sense of community that comes with having the same goal – it just looks a little different. We all do learn differently, and perhaps this format is just better suited to some more than others?
      How have you found the shift? Would you prefer to study on campus, or continue in this now very common style of learning?

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