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A Devil In Our Consciousness: Isolation and the Paradox of Modern Communication

Richard Brinkman
Ohio Northern University

The way in which individuals communicate has always been an important part of attaining any understanding of social order or progress. This statement is extremely important in itself, because whether we conceptualize order or progress, according to the power struggles of economics asserted by Marx, the development of social solidarity as argued by Durkheim, or the description of self and society as “twin-born”, as Cooley and Mead contend, all social facts seem to arise in conjunction with, or as a function of, communication. It may be reasonable to assume that nearly every aspect of sociological theory can be elaborated and built upon by considering the differing modes of communication. Of utmost importance in this paper is the manifestation of modern social communication in today’s virtual technologies. Important apparatuses here are the mediums of the Internet, as well as others, which are increasingly implicated in social life. Specifically, my direction in this paper seeks to discover if modern communications technologies bring individuals together as often stated, or on the other hand, if they produce an isolation and domination over the masses. Issues will circle around the friendship communities of Facebook and Myspace, prepackaged anagramic dialogue in text messaging (i.e. lol, omg, and others), deviant Internet groups and communities, advertising, etc. All these issues will be approached from a largely theoretical background in hopes of creating a structured theoretical springboard for further empirical testing, and will center around the theories of Marx, Durkheim, Cooley and Mead, Weber, and possible others.

North Central Sociological Association Conference, Chicago, IL