The Intimidation of Cyberspace:
From Cyberphobe to Cybermaster

Aletha S. Hendrickson
University of Maryland, College Park

Much has been mentioned in the media about how the information highway is leaving many "have nots" at the entry ramp--for economic reasons. Inarguably, facility with computers is now necessary for job entry, retention, and promotion; for information access; for business transactions; for communication. Given the obvious exigencies of negotiating cyberspace, then, why are some people still reluctant to get on board? For those for whom economics is not the issue, the answer is the "intimidation of cyberspace." That cyberspace technology is intimidating goes without saying: it necessitates constantly upgraded hardware and software requiring continual investment of knowledge, time, and cost--complicated by constantly coined jargon, tantamount to a new language which also requires time to master. Indeed the investment in keeping up technologically and linguistically seems at times to outweigh the benefits, if cyberspace is seen as a vehicle for information and communication rather than as an end in itself.

The Rhetorical Dimensions of Cyberspace
Aletha's Stuff:
Types of Intimidation | Pyschological Causes | Technological Causes
Textual Features of | Active and Passive | Benign and Destructive
Works Cited | Notes

This paper will explore the rhetorical situation of cyberspace intimidation, the relationship between its rhetors and audiences, the psychological factors involved for the intimidatees, the roles of footing, casting, and face wants in negotiating cyberspace, and the functions of "benign" and "destructive" intimidation in empowering or defeating intimidatees.

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