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Second Life and Identity

I have used different usernames for my email accounts and also different screen names when I’d go onto online chat rooms. From my experience, the reason why I would choose to use different names was because of security. In a way, I felt secure that I could vent about something freely without having to worry about seeing the person that I was writing back and forth with down the street or in a class. It was a way to hide, but also a way to express my thoughts and feelings. In a way, I can relate to Josh from “Virtuality and its Discontents? when he stated that the MUDs gave him a sense of freedom and hope. Josh stated “Down here [in the MUD] I see friend, I have something to offer? (239). Chat rooms were my form of MUD because they helped me to be more open with people that I barely knew. MUDs and chat rooms also enable people to “understand what it’s like to be a person of the other gender? (238). Even though I’ve never tried that myself, I think that it may help other people to relate to those of the opposite gender and have more respect and understanding. On the other hand, there are drawbacks to having excessive contact with virtual communities. “Virtuality and Discontents? raised a question “is it really sensible to suggest that the way to revitalize community is to sit along in our rooms, typing at our networked computers and filling our lives with virtual friends?? (235). My response is that it’s all right to play MUDs and chat to people online in other countries, but I think that everything has a limit. I don’t think that it’s healthy to be addicted to virtual communities like MUDs because it almost takes away a part of what makes us different from machines: we need human contact. We need to feel love and feel touch as well as hear other people’s voices to not be alone and to build social skills.

My email account usernames are a little different in a sense that the people that I write to know who I am and so I have to censor what I say just like in any other form of communication. There’s more anonymity in being online in some chat room hiding behind a silly screen name where you feel like people can’t judge you. Even if people do start to judge, you can just ignore them because they mean little if anything to you. Unlike Steve from “Virtuality and Discontents,? I never gave other people my real name. Even though most of the time I was not trying to pretend to be another person, I had an issue with trusting people online and I had a fear of being tracked down. Whenever I’d be online, I would talk with people about the problems in my life and in a way it was my escape. “Virtuality and Discontents? states that “there must be something wrong with Reality, if so many people want to escape from it? (242). I agree with that statement, I think that a lot of people do want to escape from their problems, but I don’t think that it’s possible to hide from your problems your entire life. I think that the reason why so many people rely on online communication is because our social system is set up where people try to be individuals and independent of other people. Young people also may feel like adults are looking down on them and not taking their opinions seriously because they don’t have as much life experience. “Virtuality and Discontents? supports this assertion by stating “these young people feel they have no political voice, and they look to cyberspace to help them find one? (241). However, there is another side to online communication in that it allows people from all over the world communicate with each other. As in the case of “Achilles? otherwise known as Steve, he was able to play the MUDs game with people in Germany.

I personally find Second Life very interesting. It’s definitely a new creation that will boom over the next few years. When I visited it, it stated that there were 3,147,284 residents and that there were 1,026,594 people that logged onto the program in the last two months. I know that this number is definitely going to grow at an exponential rate as more people become aware of it. It’s a cross between computer games and online communication with people from all over the world. According to CEO Sam Palmisano, “Second Life is the next phase of the Internet’s evolution? and that it will probably have “the same level of impact as the first Web explosion.? I couldn’t believe that people actually made money buying and selling their virtual islands. Second Life is more interactive than any other computer game/program that I know because “residents? can “build, own, or sell their digital creations.? There’s also real money involved because people can buy “Linden dollars.? I think that it’s like a real virtual community. The website even has a newsletter and mailing lists along with a classified section for the buying and selling of the virtual islands. I think it’s amazing.