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Keywords:

  • close relationships;
  • individuality;
  • internalization;
  • Internet;
  • nonverbal communication;
  • privacy;
  • social fragmentation;
  • social history virtual reality;
  • technology;
  • virtual reality

Recent research suggests an “Internet paradox”—that a communications technology might reduce social involvement and psychological well–being. In this article I examine some of the limitations of current Internet communication, including those of access, medium, presentation, and choice, that bear on the formation and maintenance of social relationships. I also explore issues central to human meaning in a technological culture—those of the history of the self, of individuality, and of human relationships—and suggest that social forces, technological and otherwise, have increasingly eroded our social interconnectedness and even produced psychological fragmentation. Finally, by considering the psychology of privacy, subjectivity, and intimacy, I look at the historical and developmental processes of internalization by which we construct the “virtual interior” of mind. Understanding this link between human meaning and technological culture, in the form and pattern of our virtual interiors, may help us to see opportunities as well as dangers for the growth of our humanity, our ethics, and our spirituality.