Internet as Community

I’ve been thinking a lot about the final project and initially I wanted to do something pertaining to literature, like looking at how technology influenced Bram Stoker’s Dracula, specifically the tension between the old, traditional ways and the new, technologically influenced ways.  However, after reflecting on previous courses that have incorporated gender and technology from a different angle, I think I’ve decided on a research topic.

 

I took a course last semester, English 360:  Desire, that required us to read novels pertaining to, not surprisingly, desire.  The desire in our material was usually sexual, but often had underlying tropes of power, money, and technology.  Towards the end of the semester, we watched the documentary entitled Zoo.  At its base level this film is about a collection of men who are attracted, both romantically and sexually, to horses.  Knowing this basis of the film, everyone in the class was immediately appalled by the behavior of these self-identified zoophiles.  However, as the film progresses, the zoophiles become the sympathetic characters due to their immaculate care for the horses and eventual persecution. They did not hurt the horses, rather they cared for them as they would a spouse, likely better because of the horse’s dependency on them.  The film is intended to make you sympathize with the zoophiles, but, naturally, it receives mixed reactions.

 

Aside from the more obvious themes of this film, there is a theme of technology and how it connects groups of people.  This collection of men met via the internet, something the documentary mentions, but ultimately glosses over.  These men became outcasts because of their controversial sexuality, so the internet brought them together.  They went by their screen names on and off screen.  However flawed it is, the internet provided these men with a community to turn to when society rejected, persecuted, and dehumanized them.  With this in mind, for my final project, I would like to further my understanding of how the internet serves as a community for groups like zoophiles and how it exactly forms this community.  I’m not interested in learning more about zoophilia, I think the long documentary did more than enough explaining about that, but I do find it fascinating that such a small portion of society was able to form through technology, something that would not have been available to them twenty years ago.

Source: Internet as Community

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