Living in Cyber space in a digital age has in many ways revolutionized our minds and ways of thinking on common topics of daily living such as family, friends, children, shelter, jobs and so on. Many years ago these called for a deliberate choice on the part of individuals at a very personal level, through a minimum of news and media available to them or through personal contacts that was limited.
As Margret Wertheim the author of The Pearly Gates of Cyber space states, ‘A hitherto non existent space, each year this new digital domain plays a greater role more and more in peoples lives.’ As of mid 1998 over a hundred million people are accessing the Internet and it is estimated that in the next decade there will be close to a billion people on Line on a regular basis. Currently it is growing by a million pages a day. This ‘Space,’ has grown into being from nothing making it surely the fastest growing territory in history.
What exactly is ‘Cyber space’? Like physical space this new Cyber space is growing in an extra ordinary rate increasing in “volume” unimaginable in the form of digital connections. It may be described as “web” and “net” To be plain and simple this new digital space is “beyond” the space that physics describes, for the Cyber realm is not made up of physical particles and forces but of bits and bytes. These packets of data are ‘ontological’ elements being the foundation of Cyber space. Since it has nothing to do with physical phenomena it is not subject to the laws of physics. It is a space beyond what scientists call ‘hyperspace.’
The fact is, this hitherto non-existent space is playing a greater role more and more in peoples lives. People whom I am unable to correspond in flesh blood personally I am able to correspond via Email. In the academic arena almost all Institutions, Research centers and major libraries round the world now have websites. So are the content of many newspapers and magazines. Why buy the New York Times paper, when you can access it online for free.
Businesses are also stepping into On-Line sales. Clothes, books, cosmetics, Airline tickets, computer equipment to name a few. The virtual Mall has arrived. Families with Home Pages, posting albums keep loved informed how they spent Summer holidays. Cyber space is also a new place to socialize and play games. Chat rooms, news groups, IRC channels On-Line conferences, Forums, fantasy worlds, known as MUDS promise infinite scope for social interaction.
All this is well said about On-Line access to almost anything one can think of. But there is also the downside aspect of Internet access and surfacing the Internet, this specially with regard to gender problems, where men can masquerade as women and vice versa. The famous case of “Joan” on the CB Channel of CompuServe highlights how people can ‘change’ gender on-Line. While it has its advantages living in Cyber space cannot and should not be encouraged as a panacea for all evils, as with every kind of new invention, without weighing its pros and cons and thoroughly studied, before venturing into using the Internet on a regular basis.