People get married in Second Life? People make money off of planning Second Life weddings?

Prior to going through the first three readings for this class by Bans, Baym, and Sanchez, I didn’t think I’d be left asking the questions above.

Second Life marriages and cohabitation push this virtual world thing a little too far out of my comfort zone—but don’t get me wrong. Online worlds and communities are great. I love them and am a part of many. While Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other similar worlds may not be my cups of tea, they are indeed how others spend much of their time online.

The examples illustrated in the readings place a heavy significance in online worlds. People invest enormous amounts of time and energy (and sometimes money!) in constructing their online personas whether in the form of MySpace pages, Second Life avatars, or Facebook profiles. As Bans writes on page 59 of her article:

The line between the real and virtual world is growing blurry…

Those blurred lines are fogging up more and more every day. While I see the benefits of incorporating online worlds and technologies into our RL, a problem arises when replacing familial experiences built on a solid foundation of love and care with virtual ones built on programmed pixels.

I’m not familiar with Second Life or games like World of Warcraft, so I look forward to understanding the kinds of emotional attachments and thrills people develop while logged in to these online worlds. Although the world is virtual, real connections have the potential to be made—and that must surely create a lasting impact.