We are seeing the emergence of the new middleman – Microsoft, AOL, Google, eBay, PayPal, and MySpace. In order to interact in the Virtual World, we depend upon them. They are our liaisons. Yet, our increasing reliance upon others comes at a price, the loss of a degree of control over our lives.

We are loosing control over our lives due to a growing disconnect between our biological self and our virtual self. The way we interact within the Virtual World is defined by software and facilitated by middlemen.

There is a loss of control over our virtual self, our representation in virtual space: a loss of control over your image, a loss of control over your information, a loss of control over your property. Who owns your data? Who is free to use your data? And who is responsible to create data in your name?

In a similar manner, there is a disconnect between real-world governments, with their guns, and the virtual world – run by corporate executives, lawyers, and administrative assistants. In the virtual world, our democracy is undermined. Virtual citizenship replaces real-world citizenship and the rule of law is replaced by corporate “Terms and Conditions.”

***


Increased dependence on middlemen will lead to a loss of a degree of self-control and self-determination. This growing dependence upon middlemen is unnerving and is antithetical to the American way of life. In addition, a Marxist critique may be relevant here: Unnecessary middlemen use their wealth to create and uphold a dependent relationship of exploitation and subjugation.

In the virtual world, your rights and liberties are no longer inalienable. In the virtual world, we are separated from our physical bodies and are unable to act as independent biological organisms; we are separated from the power of the State and its promise of liberty and democracy; and we may entering into a new “social contract,” the nature of which is not entirely clear.