Even The Wizard of Oz was nothing more than a human manipulating a series of buttons and levers. It seems as though creating new virtual “selfs” is a not so recent concept. Nevertheless, it has expanded from one man behind a curtain and is now billions hidden behind screens. The reactions associated with these new virtual selves however, is very much transferable to the present. Prior to being discovered, the man behind the curtain had created a persona of massive size and unimaginable power, which could only be undermined by the uncovering of his reality.
This draws parallels to current times where a person’s online identity has strong repercussions for their interactions. Depending on an individuals motive, they will develop certain objectives, traits, and actions in order to create a more purposeful representation of their self. This self may or may not be congruent with the physical self. The issue that people run into is that although they may be trying to fit a particular identity, the power exists in perception. People will use as much material they have surrounding another to aid perception, such as watching how they interact with others and remembering previous shared conversations. The more a person puts out a particular identity and maintains a consistent interaction basis, the more this identity with be reinforced. This could lead to complete alienation from the human form or become a reflection.What we have found is that certain virtual traits equate to similar tangible effects in reality. Attractive avatars, much as attractive people, are seen as having greater personal traits then unattractive ones do. Although our reactions are similar both virtually and personally there is a greater effect going on within the individual.
Over time and sometimes immediately, individuals will conform to the persona of their digital self. Like in the movie “Superbad”; we see Fogel turn into his alter ego McLovin after being confronted by cops. He goes to extreme ends to keep up this persona the same way people online do. In Second Life, if someone feels as though their avatar is short and ugly, this will correspond to a lack of confidence and shyness even virtually. That is the beauty of virtual worlds, your self is much more malleable online. This is one of the main reasons people choose online environments as places of refuge and safety. In an online world you are a purposeful being who does not have to “play the hand they were dealt”.