I think that these virtual worlds have the ability to teach people about the real world and learn new things about society. In Castranova’s Synthetic Worlds, the author talks about the use of technology and how it has been implemented in our society as a way to teach and ‘test’ possibilities. The author states, “Using synthetic bodies, they can learn to do many things that are ordinarily difficult to learn to do using Earth body” (pg.253). Castranova goes on to mention the example of using a synthetic body to discover an ideal site for launching a rocket-propelled grenade. Using an alternate reality can become a “trial-and-error” method for many people. People are able to ‘test’ out relationships, policies, and other technologies in this alternate world. I believe that virtual worlds create a sort of ‘utopian’ society where people are able to choose and construct the world they want to live in. People are able to choose what the look like, where they go, and who they become in this virtual world. Virtual worlds create the ‘ideal’ experience that many offline people search for in the ‘real’ world. People are not just born with traits or into a certain lifestyle, but they now have a choice. Being able to choose what your avatar looks like is a huge thing in a virtual world such as Second Life. The authors says, “Look at the contrast to social life as we experience it now: in our world there are millions upon millions of human beings who live under crushing spiritual and even physical repression because of the bodies they inhabit;” Castranova continues by saying, “and once everyone gets used to the fact that bodies don’t matter, they may cease to cause discrimination even on Earth” (pg.258). It is interesting to think about the fact that virtual worlds, where everyone is pretty much equal, may teach and create more equality on Earth.
When I was traveling through Second Life, I didn’t even notice what avatars really looked like, or what they were wearing. I thought of every avatar, animal, and car as equal to myself. There were no social classes or discrimination that was happening in Second Life. I think that this idea and ‘ideal’ situation could possibly help people in the offline world become less discriminating to others who are not the same race, weight, age, and ect. I think that the online world could help our society learn more about ourselves and create the idealistic life that people are looking to obtain.