Virtual Communication: Strengthening of Real Relationships or Simulation?

Virtual Communication: Strengthening of Real Relationships or Simulation?

Liudmila V. Baeva (Astrakhan State University, Astrakhan, Russia)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJT.2016010104
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The shift of the real communication to the virtual sphere has influenced the nature of interpersonal relations. The article focuses on the characterization of the phenomenon ‘virtual communication', playing the dominating role in the electronic world culture. Drawing from a socio-cultural analysis and the theory of simulacra by J. Baudrillard, the article proposes the classification of the virtual communication types in terms of the nature of human relations and illustrates their peculiarities and features. Using the axiological approach, the author characterizes the phenomenon of the virtual communication and the existential and ethical aspects of the interpersonal relation transfer to the sphere of the information contact. The research resulted in revealing the features and peculiarities of the virtual communication and the benefits and risks for human beings and society.
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The studies of many researchers (philosophers, sociologists, economists, etc.) have focused on the problems of the information technology’s influence on the modern society for more than 30 years. One of the major problems in this area is the virtualization of the modern human life style, the shift of people from a real being to virtual being. The term ‘virtuality’ and the concept ‘virtual reality’ were introduced by Jaron Lanier in the late 1980s. He used these terms to denote the electronic devices, carrying their user to new existence dimension, the information world, the digital and interactive environment of technologically produced simulacra that is absolutely unusual for individuals, all those things that they can be given only in experience of the sensory perception of the reality (Bodalev, 2011).

In the humanities, such scientists as J. Baudrillard, F. Jameson, J.-F. Lyotard, P. Virilio, G. Deleuze, S. Zizek, M. Heim, N. Karpitskiy, N. B. Mankovskaya, N. А. Nosov, А. Yu. Sevalnikov, S. S. Khoruzhiy, etc. have been studying the development problems of the virtual reality and culture.

J. Baudrillard thoroughly explored the essence of the human entry into the virtual culture. He determined the ontologic status of the simulation in terms of the formation of the ‘hyper-reality’, absorbing and eliminating the reality. J. Baudrillard (2000) believes that the development of the science and the world of things predestined the appearance of this quasi-reality. The reality is defined as something that may be equivalently reproduced. Such a definition was formulated along with the science, postulating that any process can be reproduced precisely in specified conditions. As a result of this reproductive process, the reality represents not just that phenomenon which can be reproduced but that one, which has been already reproduced, i.e., hyper-reality (Baudrillard, 2000). Discussing the consequences of the virtual hyper reality development, J. Baudrillard gave two assessments. On the one hand, he predicts universe cloning as an unconscious choice of the mankind, refusing the natural state in favor of artificial, more viable, and effective things. On the other hand, he asserts that the impetuous development of the virtual will lead to implosion, i.e., blurring of the borders between the real and alternative worlds. In both cases, the object - subject relations replace subject-object ones when the things, the products created by individuals, start swallowing up their originators, manipulating them, and subordinating them to their functioning.

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