Online social networking sites, discussion forums and chat rooms such as those in the title are routinely associated with freedom of expression, critiques of established offline social and personal practices, and the creation of online communities and identities e.g. gamers, metrosexuals (Slouka, 1995; Wellman & Gulia, 1999). The opportunities afforded by these information and communication technologies, via the compression of time and space, allow instantaneousness for users. And also, since the user is not physically present in cyberspace (therefore it is easier to withdraw from problematic situations by exiting an online session, as opposed to a face-to-face interaction), new, alternative and diverse forms of identity and self-expression are able to thrive (Turkle, 1997). Of course, there are both positive and negative outcomes of interactions in cyberspace, which do not require the revealing of participants’ status or situational cues e.g. Peter Chapman’s recent murder conviction. However these social spaces do tend to facilitate a freer flow of information for isolated or ‘non-out’ individuals and groups (Hearn, 2005). Therefore new forms of individual and group identities, and those with identities arguably ridiculed and marginalised in society, can more easily claim these online in an age of almost universal access to cyberspace (Kollock, 1999).
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