The online world has grown in so many ways over the last decade, and it shows no signs of slowing down in popularity. For many, a virtual world offers an escape from the real life and into your true self. You are free to be who you want to be without anyone thinking differently. In a world with basically no repercussions however, negative actions and behavior occur more frequently than in real life. The term “hiding behind a screen” comes to mind, because if your true identity is not known, you almost can’t get punished. After reading Lauren Bans’ article, I realized things like harassment and racism; negative behaviors that exist in the real world and are brought to a “virtual utopia”, confine the possibilities and potentials of what a virtual world can truly be.
In Same Shit Different World, Bans discusses how different Second Life was to the real world, but instead of being a truly different world it became a little more similar. The dangers of harassment are real in Second Life, and Bans’ explores the numerous examples that have happened with Second Life users. I have always known how big virtual games like The Sims were, but I had no idea how popular these virtual games actually until I read this article. I also was not aware how much of an actual second life these users had in this virtual world. From second wives to harassment, jobs, and rape, it seems like the world people wanted to escape from ended up creating their own world. It was surprising to read that people spend as much time online as they do in the real world. Like the example of the marine, I believe if you immerse yourself in this virtual world it can be very dangerous to the mind.
In Joe Sanchez’s A Social History of Virtual World, he discusses the history of virtual worlds and the different ones available. I was expecting the virtual world to be something relatively new; something created and boomed in the past 15 years with the growth of Internet. I really had no idea that it all started from the late 70’s to early 80’s, laying the groundwork over time. It seems as though my knowledge on virtual worlds is completely wrong, in terms of lifestyle and everything else. When I think of virtual worlds I think of harassment and fun. From when I used to play on Xbox Live, I noticed that there were people who were more concerned with harassing other players, and players that came online to escape, to have fun.
When I heard of Second Life I thought those two things, but after reading I realized it’s not that black and white. It’s more complex, and because of that I don’t’ know what to expect out of Second Life. While I am online for a class, there are people online that have been on for years, at hours on end.