Monday, February 20, 2012

Communities Virtual and Real

Dear Julian Dibbell,

Your article titled “The Assclown Offensive: How to Enrage the Church of Scientology” was quite interesting indeed. It illuminates certain facts about society that may not normally be noticed. One important fact that I noticed after reading your article was the ease in which people can come together for some cause. While in this case, project Chanology, nothing really useful was immediately being accomplished or aimed for. However, the amount of members that eventually joined the fight was astonishing to say the least for a cause that had no real purpose. Even so, I believe this demonstrates just how much the internet has affected communication throughout. Large amounts of data can be easily and instantly transferred now a days thanks to the internet. I believe that this is responsible for the formation of project Chanology as well the medium that allowed them to carry out the actions that they did not only here, but apparently across the world as well. While the overall event was somewhat of a failure, it still demonstrated the ability to people from all walks of life to gather together and participate for a common cause.

Along the same lines, it is interesting to view how the internet in this case was not only the medium on which communications were carried out, but also a place where a community could be formed where shared interests were present among the members. The basis of project Chanology was that of trolling, or to essentially cause discomfort for enjoyment. In other words, there was really no point to the actions that occurred during the course of actions that unfolded during their online protest against the scientologists. However, within the community itself, the members must have seen some form of true purpose for their actions. Some of the protests as mentioned in the article were of a large scale and did require a fair amount of coordination in order for it to be completed. This indicates that there was a real amount of effort put into what other would consider a pointless task, however “IRC war rooms” were created just for this. Other examples, include the fact that some individuals physically caused trouble by entering scientology establishments as evidenced by “Operation Slickpubes.”

I believe that you are trying to illuminate the fact that an online community can be just as serious as an offline one. As long as there is some sort of common agreement among members, any ideas can be put into motion. To this extent I agree greatly, as the physical location of a community in this day and age may mean little. This lends itself to the somewhat merging real and virtual worlds, a concept that is being explored more and more as time progresses. The trolls that participated in project Chanology most likely act the same way in both real life as well as the virtual world in which they carried out their actions against the scientologists. Thus, the blurring of the boundary between online and offline life is occurring. While I’m sure there are other reasons that you wrote this article, I believe that this an underlying statement that is trying to be conveyed. Correct me if I am wrong though.

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