The readings really helped conceptualize how relevant that virtual existence has become in today’s digital age and the trends that permeate the virtual world. It has become our default interpersonal connect, and even a secure and stable outlet for professional communication. Technological advances have enabled virtual interactivities to become limitless. However boundaries are easily meshed and private and intimate conversations and actions are based on public platforms.
A Social History of Virtual Worlds helped put a chronological timeline in my head, in addition to seeing how industries have built, and capitalized on social outlets. It has become such a significant investment to belong to this world, as more people tend to depend on it both professionally and socially.
Baym really captures the overall effects that occur when we transfer our lives into the virtual world, both negative and positive. One of the greatest outcomes has been immediacy. Communication and unbelievable amounts of interaction happens instantly, and things that are physically impossible, are made possible in virtual interactions. He articulates that people rely so heavily on technology and digital media to function that we take for granted the authentic intelligence that we once utilized so often. In other words, he points out that there have been theories that digital media make us ‘dumber’. I must say that although I do not thoroughly support the theory, I can attest that it is relevant to some degree. How often I look to Google for answers, common spellings/definitions of words, and anything I second-guess. I was just home last night for dinner when my family had a debate on the order of US presidents. None of us were able to compromise on one answer and went to Google for the correct answer, which was produced in seconds. Now, because of that convenience and mere knowledge that such answers are seconds away – I do not bother to retain information like that, no matter its significance. I could not even tell you what the correct order was today, even though we discussed it last night. However in contrast, I could tell you all of the recent status updates that have taken place in a weeks span from all of my social media accounts. In addition to this instance, I feel that people have lost touch in acquiring information. For instance, when I am looking for a certain answer, I will skip through informational paragraphs online until I come across any interesting content. It’s a vice because I miss out on what could be so significant.
Carr is also referenced, ““someone, or something,” changed him. He was the passive recipient transformed by an outside force.” The connotation that so much social activity has led us to be easily bored. It is true that with our focus on digital media, which is constantly interactive, we are bored easily. Sometimes even at red lights while driving places I find myself bored in that 30-second outlet refreshing my social media on my cell phone.
Bans’ was able to confront the realest controversies that do exist in social second life. I appreciated her article the most because it was an interesting take on second life. I was not surprised in the least that people had been creating the most ‘idealistic’ characters and the lives for their characters based on how society acts in the real world. “Flawlessness is difficult and expensive to obtain in the real world, but physical perfection comes frighteningly easy in an online world where you can change your hair, skin, and girth with the click of a mouse.” (59) Even when I was playing The Sims when I was about 13 years old, my avatar was reflected what I would see on MTV. She was mid-twenties, had the most perfect and slim body with blonde hair. She was basically a Britney Spears. I would do this because I knew that it was what was attractive. I knew that I would be a desirable character if I had chosen these specific characteristics.
I got this image from: http://lunavega.net/2011/10/online-personas-and-the-new-web-avatars/