Is there a difference between physical shared space vs. virtual communities? Does one space hold greater value than the other?
I recently engaged in a heated debate, (more likely lukewarm, but I’m passionate!) about my personal preference to physical community interaction rather than cyberspace. In this debate, I held the argument that the experience of a physical, in-person conversation holds a greater value than that of an online community. As this is my personal preference, and no hard facts or research was discussed, I identified my experience and training as a dance/movement therapist to be a large consideration in why I find more value in in-person engagements. However, there is also consideration to personality type, comfort in social situations, public speaking etc.
The opposing argument questioned the value of the experience to the subject matter. For instance, how could I hold more value to the experience of an in-person conversation, when I could have the exact same conversation with the exact same content via an online community. How can I give greater value when it’s the same content? “Well, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures and movements, of course!” I was countered with, “Okay, but what if you could physically see them?” My response?
In the end of the day, same content, clear visuals, good sound quality etc. the experience I gain from an in-person shared space is of greater value than that of an online community. No facts. No studies. Personal gut feelings. The ability to be my authentic self without the barrier of a screen. The physical shared energetic space will always win...for me. Now, I’m not against online communities by any means! In fact, I’m newly obsessed with Reddit, and find it as a great resource to my hobbies and topics of interest. Yet, I still feel a clean cut divide in a “resource” vs a “community” and the value and experience it can offer.
So, what do you say? Is the value of in-person expression and community different than experiencing it virtually? Perhaps, identifying a community regardless of time and space is the take away here. Whatever community you find support, love, presence, positivity, and respect, is that of the greatest value.