Subcultures In Cyberspace
The way people organize, govern and create meaning in their lives is associated with social patterns that link to other cultures. This describes the study of sociocultural anthropology. This brief essay will examine: Egao, cyberpunk, queer and ethnic cyber-subcultures and relate them to sociocultural anthropology. This field of study as several concerns from the environment to health issues, however, the main in terms of cyber-subcultures deals with social change. Social change can be described as any event that causes a dramatic change immediately or over time. The presence of the Internet and cyberspace has already caused several changes in society.
Facebook (FB), Twitter and other social media sights have made it possible to connect with people from different states and countries in seconds. It also makes it possible to find lost friends and reconnect with distant family members. There are opportunities to play games, exchange video files and stream live footage. The possibilities are seemingly endless. Within this new frontier of freedom along with social media Egao can be found.
Egao can be defined as a cyber-subculture in satire with the mainstream (Zhang, 2010). It can be accessed from mobile phones and other electronic devices. There are several forms which include: text, audio, image, or video. This particular sub-culture has become a means of free expression for the younger generation of Chinese people. They can ridicule, criticize, and point out the ironic events that occur in their country or that their country has caused (Zhang, 2010). China is considered to be a strict country where everyone must adhere to the wishes of the State, this type of freedom can be considered dangerous. There is the possibility that these youth will one day challenge the laws and governing body of China which flies in the face of their traditions. If a movement does begin it will not stop with the Chinese government but it will spread to challenge the traditional concepts of Chinese society and family structure. The desire for freedom and change is a logical reason to join a cyber-subcultural such as Egao but what about cyberpunk. Cyberpunk Techno writers and artists are gritty individuals that see the world through a futuristic lens. Their purpose was to change the future of the world from what it was supposed to be to what it could be based on technological advances not yet created (Wark, 1992). The cyberpunk culture is extremely unique because it did not evolve from an external culture like Egao. Every member meets online only, sharing concepts and ideas. This means their location is always mobile and it can reach anywhere around the globe (Wark, 1992). This can be disturbing because human beings are social creatures and cyberpunks have limited social contact outside their cultural environment. It is possible to lose connection with the humanity cyberpunks are trying to make better. The future is not the focus of everyone in cyberspace sometimes the here and now take precedence. The queer and ethnic cyber-subcultures are right now oriented.
The queer community is a subculture within a subculture. This may sound complicated so here’s the breakdown: queer individuals reside within the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender (LGBT) umbrella and now they have found a place in cyberspace as a subculture. In our society there are several individuals who struggle with their sexuality and gender issues. There are safe groups where these individuals can receive support. There are some cases where these individuals want to explore themselves outside the usual channels and this is where cyber-subcultures like Gaydar Girls are born (Inter-Disciplinary, 2009). Those who are curious but are not yet ready to be exposed can use this cyber-subculture site as a place to meet potential partners and explore their sexuality. Continued positive support online may give these individuals the confidence to come out in real life society. Other sites similar to this one are not only a focus for queer youth but also for ethnic issues as well. It can be difficult looking for someone of the same sex to form a relationship, now add being LGBT and being a different race or having a different ethnic background. Websites like these may be one of the only places that racial and ethnic LGBT individuals feel safe (Inter-Disciplinary, 2009). They have great issues to consider such as their culture backgrounds, religious beliefs, and even family traditions. They are facing several cultures and demands at once which they may not be able to overcome.
The traditional way that cultures are formed has been altered by technology. Egao for instance gave Chinese youth the voice to speak out against their country in a safe place. The Chinese government is concerned because traditions in the future may change because of this new found freedom. In other cases like cyberpunk there is no outside community, these individuals are linked together only online. The lack of real human contact can cause detachment issues and eventually cause harm to the society that desire to help. In terms of safety cyberspace provides a haven for queer and ethnic individuals that may be feel accepted in real life. It is also a means to gain support and begin to understand who they are. Acceptance is very important for any human being to grow. Change is something that cannot be stopped it can only be delayed.
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