Since Oldenburg’s writings, there are people in the computer and internet industry that have declared that third places are observed or shifting to the virtual world or virtual third places. This descriptive practice is easily adopted because of the similarities in descriptive characteristics found between the virtual and physical worlds. It is possible that there are some interesting notions in relation to the transitional sequences or observed phenomena, which have occurred in the evolutionary focus in social life.
In combination with the Industrial Revolution and as media transitioned from the public space to the more comfortable roles inside our homes there was a large shift away from public activities because they could be enjoyed within the confines of one’s home. With the advent of online technologies these virtual third places have been observed in online communities and multi-player gaming. The characteristics observed in these communities vary from their physical application but meet the context of personalization, permeability, approachability, and comfortability.
Thinking about Third Places again - I believe that for most people reading this, their Third Place is virtual - the internet and social media. Sociologically, I don't know how this is going to impact people. There is very little face to face interaction; it's not incarnational. Are we substituting real human interaction with something that just should be a tool?
I do many things online: I socialize online, I have a study group online, I correspond with people I don't know in real life as "friends" everyday, I do most of my shopping online. I really do LIVE online. When the power goes out, it's a shock to my system - I have to refocus. I get bored.
Maybe I need to do less online. It's so pervasive in my life, going offline would be difficult. My children are more plugged in than I am. When I cut the internet off, it cuts off most of their social ties. We are significantly changing the landscape of social interaction without knowing where we are going. I remember part of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series deals with this and his robot societies. I do wonder what it is going to mean.