Online Behavior

Although I am fully immersed in the digital world, online culture and identity are still new concepts to me. Everyday I wake up and immediately grab my laptop. From there I have a sort of “ritual”, where I go from one site to the next until I’ve checked in everywhere I’ve needed/ wanted too. But for some people, existing online takes on a whole different meaning. To a lot of people, existing online really means existing, as in living through digital characters or avatars. Relationships live and die in these virtual worlds, one can make friends, fall in love or start a revolution all through their digital counterparts. I’ve never been drawn to this type of gaming but find it to be utterly fascinating. The Sydell article was a bit shocking to me, studying human behavior and reaction through online identities is both brilliant and in my opinion, also a tad bit scary. “It’s not that it’s not part of your real life just because it’s happening on the screen. It becomes integrated into really what you do every day” (Sydell 2005). Professor Sherry Turtle shared that statement during her interview about online gaming and its reflection of actual human behavior. To many people their online lives are real and they respond to events online as they would in real-life. That is exactly why Dr. Nina Fefferman wants to study online behavior as a means to understand how and why humans act and react the way they do in real-life. When the epidemic broke out in World of Warcraft and people were panicked, she could go back and interview people about why they acted the way they did without anyone actually being put in any real danger. “Fefferman knows it’s not possible for any virtual world to completely reflect real life, but she thinks because of the emotional connection game players have to their characters it can come pretty close” (Sydell 2005). When reading this article I could not help but think of my roommates younger brother, his name is Stephen and he is nine years old. Stephen recently got Minecraft, which is an online game similar to World of War craft. Stephen spends hours a day online and his day can either be made or ruined by what is going on in his virtual world. Seeing how drastically this game can effect a person, I think studying human behavior though virtual worlds is an excellent idea.

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