I found it very interesting to learn that Second Life has “over fifteen million registered users” (Sanchez 9). Even though these users can/are interacting with others in the real world, some still choose to interact with others by the use of joining a social virtual world. Maybe the reason why some of these people choose to use something like Second Life is because they want to create a new life/different version of their life. The title being named “Second Life” displays how people can actually create a second life (or more) by choosing their wardrobe or environment, and many more. However, it may be possible for others to think that those who choose to use Second Life may be doing so because they are unhappy with their current real life. Therefore, we should not mistake people’s use of Second Life is to replace their happiness or fulfill their desires because they don’t exist, since we just don’t know. Second Life isn’t only to buy clothes and live in a different environment. Instead, it is a virtual world with “shared spaces that are used by many players at the same time” (Sanchez 9).
In “Same Shit, Different World” by Lauren Bans, the author mentioned how a 53 year old man creates a younger version of himself on Second Life. His wife, Sue, mentioned how “This other life is so wonderful; it’s better than real life. Nobody gets fat, nobody gets gray. The person that’s left can’t compete with that” (Bans 57). Now that I look back, I can recall feeling and thinking that way when I used to play Sims on my computer. I felt powerful because I was able to create myself in any way I wanted to, without worrying what other people may think of me. I’m pretty sure some people understand that we have some sort of ideal version of what we would want to look like or be like (of course there are people who are 100% satisfied with the way they look and act –but some still have wishes to look like someone else or have some/all of another person’s attributes). In addition, Bans mentioned how “you can be anyone you want online, and studies have found that people may even be at their best in these virtual worlds. Members tend to be more revealing, open, and social online than they are in real life” (Bans 58). I believe that people who create themselves to be whoever they want would end up feeling powerful and confident. These users would probably feel powerful and confident because they have their avatars looking and behaving the way they want, and now these people can express their feelings and be more open/sociable because of their levels of confidence.
Sabrina Doolittle’s experience on Second Life displays how racism is still an issue even in virtual worlds. Some may want to escape from the discrimination that exists in the real world, and move onto virtual worlds such as Second Life. However, I think that those types of discriminations may exist more or users may be exposed more to those types of environments on Second Life than in the real world. For example, Doolittle mentioned how she received racial slurs for being a black woman in Second Life; however, after she changed herself to be a white male (that same day) she was “promptly invited by a friendly SL member to attend a business meeting on how to acquire property in Second Life” (Bans, 59). This displays how there is still a struggle between white and blacks. Blacks are still being put down for their skin tones, while Whites are seen to be powerful and worth building a relationship with. In addition to the issues of racism, there is an issue with defining beauty. “Even if you do choose an unrealistic-looking dark skin for your avatar, you’re still stuck with conventionally ‘white’ features” (Bans 60). Clearly, this displays how these creators are defining their own standards of beauty by only having “white” features, instead of creating diverse features. There is a struggle to define beauty. Thinking about “white” features reminds me of how young women in South Korea are struggling with themselves to have the Western look by getting plastic surgery (double eye-lid surgery, bridges on their nose, etc). Celebrities, the media, and society have put pressure on people to follow the standards of beauty. But how do we define beauty? Who defines beauty? We struggle to be happy with ourselves because the strain and pressure we get to follow the standards of beauty.
Some people have desires to look similar to someone else and have different characteristics. We can’t judge someone for having these desires because these desires arise from something deeper. We want to make ourselves look a certain way on Second Life for a reason. Where do these reasons come from?