As our last week of readings, we are going to be looking at some of the ramifications and consequences to this pervasive online living we’ve been studying all semester. Some of them aren’t great, but all of them are significant. These readings are attempting to answer the questions of why we should care about online worlds, and what online worlds mean for our society. 

Online worlds have become incredibly significant in today’s society. It is so ingrained in the world’s culture that it is almost impossible to watch a movie or a television show without someone mentioning doing something online. In fact, there is an entire television show dedicated to people who participate in online communities (namely, World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc.). The show is called “Big Bang Theory” and it is incredibly popular, and thus a testament to how popular online communities are. If they were not popular, the show would not exist, as the audience would not understand or appreciate a vast majority of the jokes. An entire “South Park” episode, a show that tackles social issues and provides commentary (or criticism) on them. There is an episode where Randy, one of the fathers of the main characters (who also play World of Warcraft) begins to play the game. Randy, like his son and his friends, becomes obsessed with the game and eventually becomes completely engrossed in the game. Meanwhile, the kids play the game for hours on end to defeat another player. Online communities should be cared about. As shown, they are an integral part of our culture. “Big Bang Theory” and “South Park” are both vastly popular shows, and reflect modern day society.

Additionally, some people center their entire lives around online communities. For example, in class we learned about Chinese gold farms, who dedicate their whole lives to their job of farming gold in World of Warcraft. I learned that they live, sleep, eat, and work in the work environment. Consider this article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1544131/Man-dies-after-7-day-computer-game-session.html

In this article, a man from China died after playing computer games for a week straight. The article points out that games that have online communities have an addicting quality to them. Engaging in a video game with a strong online community can lead to becoming so engrossed in the game that it becomes clinical addiction. Unfortunately, this can lead to death due to a resistance to leave the game. The addicting quality of online communities leads one to believe that that in and of itself is why online communities should be cared about. We have to teach people about the dangers of becoming too engrossed in a virtual world. That Chinese man is not the only person who has died from this. I have heard news stories of people forgetting to feed their children or pets because they could not leave a raid in World of Warcraft. Online communities, although valuable, should be viewed with caution.

 

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