Is Online Community Interaction Liberating or Oppressive

Chamberlain (2007) believes that although online community interaction has its drawbacks, the benefits still outweigh the disadvantages. Some of the ways in which online interaction can be liberating are that it helps overcome the hindrances people feel when interacting face to face. The fact that people can not see each other through online interaction means that those who might otherwise feel hesitation in bringing up sensitive topics might not feel so awkward when doing so online. This is a form of liberation as it frees people from the bounds of face to face interaction, allowing the expression of conversations and opinions that might not otherwise be expressed. Norms, rules and taboos that would otherwise apply are not followed and do not have to be followed, in many regards and this means that online interaction can enhance and further fill the gap for conversations and topics that are not touched upon in other forms of interaction. This, in turn, implies increased and better interaction among people. Furthermore, as Batson (1995) argues, online communication means that the importance given to appearances in face to face interaction is no longer there. Those who might otherwise be criticized, judged or marginalized are not done so online and can find refuge in communicating online. Furthermore, those who cannot speak fluently or are not very good at articulating themselves and expressing their views clearly can seek the support of an alternate source of communication.
On the other hand, there are strong arguments that are in support of the fact that online community interaction is deterrent to effective communication and can be seen as ‘oppressing’ society. Shoman (2006) when talking about emails as a form of communication argues that the prime problem that it causes is an invasion of privacy, that is, the fact that while being sent, the email passes through so many different computers before reaching the intended receiver. This invasion is seen& direct contradiction to the liberation that is talked about when referring to online communication.