It is astounding to me that we are in a day in age where virtual ethnography actually exists and I have the opportunity to partake in this practice. The first day that we entered Second Life, I was amazed that this virtual world so closely resembled our real world and found it very interesting to learn that there were many other worlds and destinations within Second Life. My first adventure outside of our classroom was to Help Island where I found the people to be, well, helpful. I would definitely say that the real world and online worlds are similar in the way that where you hang out will determine the type of people that you will be surrounded with or expect to encounter.
On our first field trip, my group and I explored Bora Bora. During this exploration, I was more focused on the landmarks, beaches, bars and water sports than actually getting to know the people. In fact, for a beautiful area, there weren’t many people around at all. I tried to have a conversation with a woman, Lavender, after I got kicked out of Sl and lost my group. THis woman didn’t have much to say, but she did tell me that she liked to come to the beaches of Bora Bora to relax and be alone because there usually weren’t many people around. The people who come to Bora Vora are the ones that are trying to get away from other people and wind down. I would expect that you are more likely to encounter bad people or even just more social people in a club or busy area than in a location such as an isolated island because they know that the people who go there aren’t trying to involve themselves with others, but spend time alone.
In Carter’s paper, she brings up the notion of trustworthiness and authenticity of data. “However, it is also useful to remember that verifying truth is just as necessary in real life as well as in cyber communities” (p. 151). When you meet a stranger in class, on the street, in a coffee shop, etc., with whom you have no mutual friends, it is nearly impossible to decipher whether the information this person is relaying to you is a truth or a lie. In real life, however, you are exposed to their non-verbal cues wither they are intentional or unintentional. Shifting of eyes, fidgeting, stuttering, or long pauses could signal that someone is not being truthful. The scary truth about meeting an individual in an online context is that all of these cues are filtered out. In my opinion, if you plan to never meet this person outside of the virtual world, then it really doesn’t matter whether you’re new friend or acquaintance is telling the truth. If you enjoy the conversation, that is all that matters. It is important for someone who is exploring virtual worlds to understand the reality that the person or avatar that an individual is projecting themselves to be may not be who they are in real life.