As the internet continues to evolve as years go by more and more online communities are springing up. Whether they are chat rooms on websites, within virtual games, or even through social media, people are linking up with one another in the cyber world more often. Now as can be expected as people bring their social interactions online, cultures begin to form and become apparent in all that we do. For example, within social media, around 2006 or so there began a mass exodus from MySpace, which was the current popular site, to the new social media forum, Facebook. “Those who adopted MySpace were from different backgrounds and had different norms and values than those who adopted Facebook. White and more affluent individuals were more likely to choose and move to Facebook.” (Boyd, 2010) What Boyd realized during her research was that those switching to Facebook viewed MySpace as a sort of “ghetto”. I found this intriguing because my own personal switch from MySpace to Facebook was simply because of the majority of my friends making the switch. I never viewed MySpace as a lesser forum, just simply, an older one. What teenager isn’t intrigued by the newest, hottest, technology out there? I did begin to view a culture begin to form that distinguished the two sites but my difference was simply music. Those who were parts of bands or who really admired and wanted to “follow” their favorite bands, kept up a presence on MySpace where as those who were into the cites for the social aspects drifted to Facebook. Another forum that developed it’s own culture as it’s popularity grew was massive multi-player online games such as World of Warcraft (WoW) and League of Legends (LoL). At one point WoW experienced a plague that was killing off players avatars left and right. The results on the cultural and moral scale were interesting. “Dr. Fefferman: Some of them decided once they were infected, you know, “I don’t really care anymore about anybody else. I’m going to teleport within the game to a crowded urban center and infect as many other people as I can.” Mr. Kirkland: And a lot of people who decided to go out there and help people, and there’s quite a few people giving resurrections to people who had died from the plague.” (Sydell, 2005) I never figured that in a scenario that involved a situation that could occur in real life that people would react in these types of fashions. The altruistic players who tried to help those dying or dead reminded me a lot of our own emergency services personnel, such as paramedics, cops, etc. It seemed as if players reacted within the game as they would more or less in real life. This blatant show of people’s culture and morals traversing between real life and the games they play is a clear indicator that the online world is just an extension of our own lives and not just a tool. Another social norm that is experienced in real life and is shown throughout online communities as well is the idea of caring about those you surround yourself with. Similar to those in WoW who helped out others during the plague, people in guilds show the same level of caring. “In nearly every social guild that lasted more than a month, members and leaders were aware of the need for a certain level of maturity, responsibility, and player welfare. This level of what can only be described as caring is remarkable given that the game is centered ostensibly around functional, not psychological or social goals.” (Williams, et. al. 2006)
Culture come through online in many different ways. For years as Facebook as grown in popularity within the United States as well as across the world more and more groups are popping up based on various aspects of real life culture. Online people can be whoever they want to be and portray themselves in any sort of way and yet we are all still drawn to what classifies us in real life. There are groups that advocate being Italian, or being from Asia, or loving computers, or being against guns. When people join these groups they introduce themselves to those with similar views and opinions. This begins another type of culture where people share posts and ideas, have discussion, make new friends, etc. When I go on Facebook and I notice someone I know has joined a new group at times I check out what that group is all about. Many times I learn something new not only about my friend or acquaintance but also about the people that share this world with me. Much of the culture found online is the same as culture in real life where people express themselves similarly.