Saturday, April 21, 2007

Second Life as a Social Laboratory

Second Life offers a player the opportunity to develop a virtual self that can be an ideal image of their real life self or a complete contrast of their real life self. For some people, this may present them an opportunity to explore the possibility of being the opposite of sex, fatter, skinnier, prettier, uglier and other alterations to their virtually presented self that in real life would be next to impossible. In exploring the avenues of Second Life and appearance manipulation I have come to a tireless conclusion about myself and maybe about other people who engage in playing Second Life. During the appearance manipulation process of my character “Smalls Babenco” I realized that I have little interest in portraying my virtual character different than my real life self image. While I made my attempts to be fat, skinny, dwarfish, ugly, beautiful, female, and black, I realized that being different then who I was in no way benefited my self. I understand the latter to be realist in thought, but the lack of incentive offered in Second Life drives me and my character to explore the possibilities that can be presented to my virtual self and thus I have a more easier time transposing the occurrences of the Second Life virtual world into my real life. By exploring Second Life with a virtual self image I am freed from the insecurity I have in the real world and allowed try out social theories/tactics with little repercussion. Where in real life talking to a beautiful girl poses a challenging opportunity, in Second Life’s virtual world I am able to talk to a “beautiful” virtual female without worrying about blushing or embarrassment (albeit, granted that the “beautiful” virtual girl can be anyone out in the real world). By focusing more on developing a virtual self, I believe Second Life to be a laboratory for social technique. Using Second Life as a lab a use is able to act without worrying about trying to be cool and say things that they would normally shy away from saying. Where in real life approaching a beautiful girl and telling her that you think she is beautiful is nearly impossible, Second Life offers you the opportunity to be honest with yourself and to others.

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