THE MUTUAL SHAPING OF ONLINE AND OFFLINE SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS

INTRODUCTION

Technically speaking internet is a global network of interconnected networks. All most all of these networks holds files such as web pages, that can be accessed by all other networked computers. Every computer or any device like cell phone etc which is connected to internet have the ability to send and receive files in the form of emails or another file extensions over the internet. And thus the people all over the world are connected always. If we place internet in the historical context and then critically examines the effect of internet use on the social relationships then we could see that the effects of internet use are largely depended on particular goals such as self-expression or competition. In 1998, Kraut and his colleagues cited a correlation between the internet use and declines in social relationships. After years the same group of people did a study on the original sample group and founded out that the negative effects of using internet had dissipated and also it suggested that the internet had a very positive effect on social and psychological wellbeing of the modern people. Here my aim or objective is to critically analyse the work done by Bo Xie on the topic The mutual shaping of online and offline social relationships. The author of this topic is Dr. Bo Xie, (PhD, Rensselaer Polytechnic ) Assistant Professor in college of information studies under the University of Maryland. She has published a number of books on information management. Her Research Interests are in Health informatics; older adults’ learning and use of computers and the Internet; computer literacy; lifelong learning; civic engagement; volunteering; social relationships; social support; online communities; health and well-being (http: //terpconnect.umd. Edu/~ boxie/).As a conclusion of my critical analysis I came to know that internet has both positive and negative effects on the social relationships in the modern world.Some of the positive effects are like online chatting, which will create new friendships and relationships which also helps in behind in touch with old friends .The same chatting could be the demerit when it creates wasteful relationships between people while chatting in the net for long hours. The positive effects of the internet on the social relationships may be crucial but the demerits of using internet might be destructive

METHOD OF EVALUATION

In the method of evaluation of the research author had interviewed thirty three participants from OldKids organisation whom falls under old age group and different educational backgrounds. Here the author tries to point out two culture specific groups. First -informed by anthropologists on the observation that the ageing experience difference over cultures and these participants were not selected by age but by self identification. It contained Chinese citizens. Second-retired Chinese participants. In the research the author speaks about the social relationships in the internet age and the social relationships in the later life. She says that the use of internet in this age reduces social relationship and increases the social isolation. The studies reveal that this concept was accepted before years but now the online relationships are more reliable ,realistic, low cost and easy reachable than in older days. She describes that the digital world or the internet age is completely independent on on the offline or the physical world. This is a true fact and the two worlds are entirely different from each other with their own advantages and disadvantages.The virtual world helps each person to overcome from the embodied constraints such as sex, age , race and nationality and gives a quite environment from the outreach of the physical world. But there is also a chance of getting attracted more towards sexy relationships as the online users could pass their message shamelessly as they are not seeing each other face to face. The use of online relations also creates stage frightness in children.
The virtual world creates the same situations prevailing in the physical world. This hypothesis is right from my point of view as well.Now we could do any thing in the virtual world that is happening in the physical world expect from the point of physical contacts. More recently the computer people had created even virtual bingos were a user could make a profile with a a character and that character could interact with the other characters whom are created by other users. From the evidences and the references the author argues that the social relationships created or formed and maintained through email are perceived by individuals are less valuable than the relationship created by the one to one face to face and telephonic relationships. This hypothesis is not completely acceptable as there are many evidence of people getting more and more engaged in relationships which is created through internet.But the hypothesis is acceptable from the point of view that people even can’t remember even the names of their online friends. The supporting nature of the friendship is very less or rarely visible in online relationship.Evidences shows that friendship is more attached in the later life of older adults. The virtual online friends tries to meet and mingle in the physical world of relations. Thus online friends tends to meet their friends physically face to face

TECHNIQUES USED FOR GATHERING DATA AND ANALYSIS

The techniques used for the collection of datas to support my observations were absolutely secondary that is by reading the books, journels and and also surfing in the internet as the nature of the assignment is to critically analyse. As we analyse the datas available we could say that the research done by Dr.Bo Xie had some few limitations. The first one is that it has concidered only the people from china as the samples. The use of internet for making relationships in china may be different from other parts of the world. As China is technologically forward than many other countries the online relations could be more in China than in other countries.Second one is that the research selected only thirty three participants which is not sufficient for a good research to be conducted. But the technique used was random sampling which could provide with better results. The data collection would be better if it could do an online sampling which includes the people from other parts of the world were there use of internet is not so common. Third one is that the samples contained only old people and it completely avoided the new generation which definitely would create a break through in the research.
The data analysis for this study was controlled by grounded theory where the data collection and analysis occurs simultaneously to ensure the coevolution of the data and the theory.After interview with each person the author writes a short description about the feed back including the time and location of the interview.Its a long process of making a research which takes much time but helps to include each and every minute details of the observation. Then the analysis showed that the need to meet offline is in relation with the need to know more about computers and also to mingle with the friends in the same age group in the physical world. It also resulted in formations of some clubs as well. Internet helped the people to connect with the peers who were physically far away who were not in reach to the old people. This is also an acceptable fact but we should concider one point that internet is not available in rural parts of most of the world.

LITERATURE REVIEW

“Greater use of the Internet was also associated with small, but statistically significant declines in social involvement as measured by communication with the family and the size of people’s local social networks, and with increases in loneliness, a psychological state associated with social involvement”. ( Kraut et al,1998)
“A second study was then done on new purchasers of computer and televisions, and it also showed that the internet had a positive effect on social and psychological well-being. Unsurprisingly, this was more pronounced for extroverts and more socially connected people”. (Kraut et al)
“Results of a new three year study are the first to reveal the social consequences of living in a highly-wired, broadband neighborhood. This research addresses recent interest in the effects of Internet use on relationships with friends, relatives and neighbors. The key finding is that living in a wired neighborhood with access to a high-speed local network encourages greater community involvement, expands and strengthens local relationships with neighbors and family, and helps maintain ties with friends and relatives living farther away”. (Prof. Keith Hampton and Prof. Barry Wellman )

MAIN ARGUMENTS

Main argument gives the strength and weakness of the research.

Strengths

The research has well explained how the online relations helped older people in finding their old peers and making new friends who are physically too far away from them. The theory used for the research that is the ground theory has strongly supported the findings and observations of the author. The interviews were conducted in depth and it has taken down all the points without any miss at the time of the interview.The analysis is so clear that every one could understand it without much difficulty.The research clearly mentions how the internet helped the old people in making a new online world of their own.The resarch gives references to many great books and authors to make it more reliable.It discusses the topic with a story which the make the readers more entertained.

Weakness

The research discusses only the positive aspects of old people using internet.The survey done was not a random survey which decreases the accuracy of the research. The number of persons selected for the research were very less like thirty three and also the members were selected from China only.The research did not give any individual details of the interviewees and it just give only an outline of a broader topic.The internet is mostly used by students teenagers etc who were not involved in this research.So there is a chance of getting inaccurate or even wrong dimensions to the research.It also not mentions about what happens in the other parts of the world where there is only a limited access to internet.

DISCUSSION AND EVALUATION

This research topic is more relevent to the modern world while evaluating deeply and is a must discussed topic.Firstly the use of internet to make peers for the old people is a topic which accurate to the modern world of stress and tension. Due to the increase in number of internet users the world becomes familiar to each individual.The topic is important because in near future nobody might be there who doesn’t know how to work with internet.
The evidences put forward by the researcher are all valid and the theory and the situation used are very supportive.The conclusion or the outcome of the research is sufficient in giving the idea of the topic. The research is transparent that the techniques used are quite appropriate and is been justified. Though the analysis was good the data collection was not upto the mark but also resulted in better outcome. The methodology is widely accepted type and sounds proper to the prevailing situation.Critically examining is the best way to interpret a research and also it helps in producing better outcomes and a modified future to the stakeholders

CONCLUSION

This critical review comes into the conclusion that the research has a positive attitude towards the online relationship at the same time it accepts the physical relationship as well. The aim of the research was to differentiate between online and offline relationship and it has done its job with perfection. The research is reliable, acceptable and adds value to the future world. The findings are based and built on theories so they are accurate .the theory shows that the number of people attracted towards online relationship is increased due to its positive aspects. Though online relation creates a virtual distance between the people it creates an awareness that we are one. The most polished quality of the topic falls in the relevant nature of the hosen topic. The results obtained can be used in most of the countries though it cannot be used in some of the rural parts of the world. The limitations of the research are overcome by the relevance and importance of the topic. The research gives great contribution to the modern world of computer. So the validity of the topic is very high.