In Same Shit, Different World, Lauren Bans discusses the real-time social virtual network, Second Life. Growing up, I had played the computer game SIMS, in which the player creates their own avatar and lives in a virtual world. I could create a family, build my own house, but if I recall correctly, that was about it, or all I knew how to do. Obviously with the development of technology and the creation of social networks, Second Life offers the detail of real-time online networking. When I would stop playing SIMS for the night, the world shut down and would re-appear just as I left it when I decided to log on. Second Life is always “on” and always interacting. Like SIMS, Second Life allows individuals to be who they are not necessarily comfortable with being in real life.
Unfortunately, as the article points out, while Second Life gives opportunity to be whoever you wish, it also allows users to hide behind their keyboard and type hateful messages to strangers. Bullying is something I am constantly thinking about and trying to change. It has become “normal” to say such hateful things, and the virtual world in Second Life, amongst all other social networks, allows for it to be done so easily. The article discusses a black female student experimenting with her gender and race in the game as an experiment and receiving negative reactions due to the way her avatar looked. As a black avatar she was bullied but as a white male she was actually invited to professional meetings.
The article should be renamed from Same Shit, Different World, to Worse Shit, Different World. Many of the actions and words said in the game would not be duplicated in real life as often. People are equally as quick to judge, but not as courageous to say or do anything to a person’s face. Cyber-bullying is getting out of hand and it needs to be changed. I am constantly correcting people around me for the things they say. Even if it is a joke between people and not directly aimed and shared with a certain person, I kindly remind people that their words are hurtful and they are being mean, racist, stereotypical, prejudice, or a combination. We are all entitled to an opinion and freedom of speech but I just wish society had some humanity and sensitivity to their words. The article demonstrates how this one game has been used in negative, bullying ways and there is no easy way to stop it, if any.