Thursday, September 22, 2005

Imagined Communities

People who study Mass Communication or related fields would have often heard the term 'imagined communities', which refers to the publics as target audiences or subjects under governance.

These days, imagined communities can be very real, especially with interactivity of communication on the Internet. Take the example of forums. People participate and voice their views publicly, but these people do not reveal their real names and often use short names or nicknames to hide their identity. These are people I would term as real imagined community or communities, since there are so many forums on the Net.

Another imagined community which is very real indeed is what known as Online Communities, such as the popular friends’ community sites like Friendster and MySpace. People participating in such communities often feel attached to the imagined friends they have in their list and through participation in their forums and multimedia groups, people begin to identify and feel belonging as if they know each other personally.

For example, models, movie stars, and popular personalities have their fan clubs formed in groups where audience can subscribe to access photographs, chats, discussion messages and many more. The star of the object needs only place occasionally entries of messages, say, to describe themselves, and all subscribers will be able to know the object intimately, sharing with others of like minds.

These imagined communities can become very real, depending on the amount of participation by the individual in commenting or writing testimonials on their imagined friends' blogs, profiles, and photographs.

With such technology these days, people do not feel as lonely as they should be, because they can imagined virtually the 'friends' they have, but in reality, such 'friends' are often imagined and some are represented by avatars, which essentially are fake identities, so whether the other party is real or imagined, disguised or true, male or female, it is up to one to decide to what extend he or she should indulge in this unreal world!

No comments: