Internet Communication and Liberation - Problem Solving Example

5 pages
1156 words
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Problem solving
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Internet communication in the last two decades has been framed in many ways. Many have positioned the internet as a link to the global community, a technology of democracy, a site of commercial enterprise, a source of information, as well as a symbol of scientific progress in the modern world. The internet in its diverse nature is comprised of comparative discourses and new technologies that are still in the formation process. The use of technology is unpredictable because of the various forces affecting it such as government regulations, the changing needs of the individual users and the entire market, as well as on a mass level.

Though the internet was created as a defense technology, it is nowadays used as a source of information for scientific and academic research. When the National Science Foundation gave up its control of the internet in the year 1991, this opened a door that would lead to commercialization. The internet since then has become as a tool for material consumption, political equality, education, and culture. We can see that freedom is the consent of liberation, but what does freedom serve? Here is what Rene Descartes says:

Your greatest possessions are a freedom. She isnt able to make you beautiful, rich, respected, strong and happy in the eyes of the whole world, but she can only make you free. She doesnt make you the master of things, but the master of yourself.

Along with the above notes, I will derive evidence from the cyber-romance film Youve Got Mail (1998) to examine the liberating effect of network technology.

Unlike many other contemporary technology films, Youve Got Mail is a down-to-earth story set in New York during the fall. Kathleen Kelly, a childrens bookstore owner, is reading an email from NY152, whom she met in a chat room. Joe Fox, staring at the words from shopgirl, writes the following:

I like to start my notes to you as if were already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that were the oldest and dearest friends, as opposed to what we actually are, people who dont know each others names (00:06:53).

He would never imagine the woman with whom he found himself enchantingly connected would be his business rival Kathleen. Just as Kathleens employee Christina says, he (she) could be the next person to walk into the store (00:12:43). Indeed, the physical bodies behind those computer screens do not determine whether one would decide to start a conversation. The ideation of interaction in cyberspace, where all can express their beliefs and thoughts without privilege or prejudice, grants mind as true identity, just as Descartes discusses in The Second Meditation: What then am I? A thing which thinks. What is a thing which thinks? It is a thing which doubts, understands, [conceives], affirms, denies, wills, refuses, which also imagines and feels. Thus, the stranger one talks to, or in another word, the void one talks to is a way which emerges from network technology, liberating ones sentiments and expressions with neither judgment nor entrenched preconceptions of who one is and how one should act.

Its a common situation that happens to many people: When the unchangeable, hackneyed rhythm of life can no longer support love of the relationship, the only reason to be together is possibly when others commend it (you two are so perfect together!) Notably in the movie, Christina speculates as to whether Kathleen is in love when she senses her cheerfulness after she has read NY152s email. Its interesting to note that Kathleen denies this instinctively, in a moment she changes her words to:

Oh, yes, I am in love with Frank. I am practically living with Frank (00:11:01).

Unconsciously, Kathleen has already detached from Frank, her abstruse, boring news writer boyfriend who still uses a typewriter during the Internet age, when she is experiencing a lovely emotion. Hence, two questions may arise. Why doesnt Kathleen talk to Frank the way she wrote to NY152? And why were Frank and Kathleen still together at that time? I wouldnt answer, since the precise answer could only be given by the original author. Perhaps by pouring out those pieces of thoughts to NY152, Kathleen is able to rethink and reveal herself, which finally leads her to relieve herself of her tasteless relationship with Frank. When one-on-one communication involves such connection and love, it matches Aristotles belief that Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.Thus, passion directs both who are involved in this communication to feel like one while that fair, understood, and empathetic cyber-connection has instinctively set their emotion and love to where their honesty at.

One other point worthy of mention from Youve Got Mail is that communicating through Cyberspace has made both of the main characters, Kathleen and Joe, make use of their imaginations, but to evaluate subjects with intellect and will. When Kathleen meets Joe at Cafe Lalo, where she expected to see her dear mail-friend, then has had a little tiff with this enemy Joe (01:06:25). Apparently, along with her different imagination of these two separate identities, Kathleen would describe Joe as the horrible, insensitive man in the suit and her mail-friend, NY152, as the entirely opposite: kind and funny [with] the most wonderful sense of humor. Referring to the First Mediation of Philosophy, anything invented by ones imagination is suspect; imagination isnt equal to pure understanding of things. Along with their day-to-day conversations, Kathleen gradually takes off the tags she previously put on Joe through her imagination. Some might say Joe, who knew Kathleen to be shop girl, would lead her in his desired direction throughout their dialogue. On the other hand, without the cyber layer, would Joe or Kathleen have had a chance truly find each other? Shuttling from cyberspace to the physical world, all the imagined facts are being given away. As can be seen, Kathleen and Joes talking about nothing means much more than something type of communication via cyber-space does liberate them from a preceding complex interpersonal relationship bounded with material values.

In closing, like the stories from Youve Got Mail, the Internet has integrated into many aspects of our everyday experiences, such as identity, communication, relationships, etc., In reality, network technology, or cyberspace, provides absolute freedom and security; the idea that a cyber dimension would empower us with more liberal flexibility is assisting us to see our own purity by using it with love and empathy. After all, we should begin to understand that the Internets existence does not drive us from the real world; instead, it interacts with the physical world as a generous affordance that supports us to love, think, and be brave.


Barlow, John Perry. A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Electronic Frontier Foundation. February 8, 1996., Rene. Discourse On Method; and Meditations on First Philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., 1993.

Youve Got Mail. Directed by Nora Ephron. 1998. New York, NY: Warner Bros.

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