At first when I read about the “provocative” nature of this weeks topic I was skeptical. Then I began reading the first selection from Boyd. It is greatly frustrating and increasingly annoying that race is such a vital issue in todays society. Being someone who has friends and family of extremely differential backgrounds, it sickens me. I believe the true problem relates to perception as opposed to hate. Groupthink is also an issue that causes negative perpetuation of stereotypes and behaviors. In the selection Kat refers to MySpace as a virtual ghetto because of its increased ethnic population. The word ghetto is and for a long time has been used synonymously with minorities, especially black americans. What we tend to forget is how ghettos were used during the holocaust to entrap Jewish people, or how we used them during the depression to combat widespread poverty. Nevertheless, the definition of ghetto has changed, and I believe thats for the worse. Whats even more disturbing is that these misconceptions are making smooth transitions into our virtual realms.
The purposeful separation of whites and others is nothing more than a remaining sense of ethnocentrism. The same way white people moved from the cities to the suburbs, they are now moving from one social network to another. And to think, America is supposed to be a melting pot. Imagine that, a melting pot where one ingredient increasingly tries to escape from the fire. We are more of a real and virtual salad bowl in which everyone shares the same vicinity, but are very distinct entities. The trick is trying to transcend these known limitations. The only way I could think of was stripping people of their predetermined mindsets and starting from scratch, which of course is impossible. Maybe what this emergency really needs is emergency.
In the Sydell selection she discusses the breakout of an online pandemic on World of Warcraft. After reading this selection it became even more apparent that our behaviors are affected by history, but our instincts are pure. In this online World of Warcraft, avatars were getting sick and dying, but without knowing anything about the person controlling the avatar, people reacted accordingly. There was mass panic from the outbreak and people reverted to their true selves regardless of race or gender. People that were sinister purposely infected other people while many banned together to try to save victims through the use of recovery spells and other tactics. Sydell also referred to this reaction as very close to reality and thus brings me to my conclusion.
Racial discrimination is nurture, not nature, but it is also easily transferrable between mediums. It is not the fact that these notions exist in one realm or the other, but that fact that if they do exist in people, they will carry them everywhere. Culture is similar both online and off, the only differentiation existing in limitations and perception. How do you see someone else: as an avatar, a person, black, or white? The answer is always going to be based on the culture, and the culture is always going to be based on the people. The solution is in each individual, but by the time people are old enough to recognize their perceptive mistakes, it is almost too late to change.