Monday, April 14, 2008

Real life vs. Online Social Skills:

When I read the article on the media education in the 21st century. Even though Jenkin mentions that the skills needed to participate and create in today’s internet society are all just extensions of already existing skill sets, I feel like for most people the impression is that these are fundamental skills that have an effect unique to internet culture. For example the "instructor" in hot for words makes a spectacle of herself and in doing so alters her viewing audience to draw from a larger pool of viewers. At the same time she lessens the impact of her video's educational value and increases its entertainment value. How is this any different from the previous sources of media where the same strategies are put in to play in different environments.(tv, magazines, radio)
And if this is the case that the skill sets needed to produce media in internet society (capacity to experiment and problem solve, ability to adopt alternative identities, ability to simulate experiences, ability to multitask, decide with clear judgment, etc.) are the same ones that can be related to real life applications of similar media projects, what limits the internet media producer from applying his new found skills to the "real world" in the same way he would apply his real world skills to the “virtual world.”
The article "Multi-User Dungeons and Alternate Identities" touches on this question. Although I recognize the absurdities of spending your "real-life" in a "virtual life" it still brings up some very interesting questions as well as educational opportunities. I believe Caroline pointed out that "the author says that people gain communication and socializing skills, but are they able to apply these skills to the real world? If they cannot, are the skills truly meaningful?" Well as I think about these virtual worlds more it seems to me that the closer these virtual worlds get to simulating realistic human interaction the more applicable these skills are. For example if you were playing the game second life your methods of talking to other players at the most common level would be to type and initiate a text chat conversation. You would be limited to how you interacted with other players on a visual level excluding many of the social skills involved in playing a game with another player as if he was sitting next to you. However if the players were instead using a program that allowed them to speak freely over the internet as they would in a conversation the level of value in the interaction would be greatly increased and a great many more social skills applicable to real life would be used in this virtual world. In addition other limitations can be overcome to an extent such as visual aspects of social interaction. This is the case with many online games, instant messenger programs, etc. It seems that as the network for this relatively new source of media evolves and becomes more interactive, (closer to reality) a greater sense of social interaction is achieved and the more applicable the skills learned.


Anita Vohra said...

Social skills are definitely lacking in most teenagers today because of the abundant increase in methods of technology. When all you have to do to communicate with a person is send a simple text message or IM, not a lot of thought goes into what is actually being said. While Jenkins mentions building upon previous social skills to communicate via Internet, I feel that Internet communication is a different form altogether. Little to no social skills are required to be able to communicate over The Internet. On another note, with technology taking over our world, a lot of careers are requiring their employees to communicate over The Internet. So, while you may not need to know proper etiquette to communicate over The Internet, you definitely need the skills to be able to utilize The Internet for communication.

Flajole said...

Mr Ioda,

The idea of the breakdown between real life interactions as opposed to the socializing that takes place online is probably the most important observation to be made. Both Rheingold and Jenkins advocate teens using online “publics” with the assumption that they are in fact “learning” the skills that will help them tomorrow. However, neither of them really approach the question of how spending too much time online can severely confuse your identity. As Rheingold points out, with his confusing list of different acronyms, in the various different chat rooms, dungeonariums or whatever various venue you use for your online “fix”, you learn community memory language that is fixed and traps individuals within. Identities are manipulated not only by how we wish to perceive ourselves, but also by the development of normative behaviors and conventions of online societies. This creates dependence and a disassociation from other communities. Language/custom barriers seem to do that.

The other idea that I think is important about the difference between the two is the idea of choosing your own identity. In real life situations, your identity is comprised of your reactions, but more importantly, the way others perceive those reactions. You don’t have as much time to decide what you’re going to say in real life and say for instance if you are someone who is shy, that will be evident. On the other hand, in the online dungeonariums described in Rheingold’s piece, you have the ability to pick and chose what you will respond to depending on your audience and you can think over how you respond. You have control. I guess this is a good thing because it allows people to live out the lives that for some reason they are restricted from doing in reality. However, these online communities only last for so long and you risk identifying with your online personae and distancing yourself from reality. Your online identity in my opinion is a less permanent form and if you spend all of your time mastering the tools for online, it could lead to trouble in real life. You also have to worry about net.sleazes.

acnewman said...

I agree with anita that teenages social skills are lacking but i don't think it stop there. People communicate now through text more then by calling the person. Trying to convey feelings and thoughts through text has become a popular way of impersonal communication. Internet communication is very different then face to face communication. We have all met those people who don't have great communication skills but then on the commupter they are those people with the outragous pages showing how "cool" they are. I'm not saying the its not easier at time to communicate online through some kind of messanger but most online communication has become impersonal. The MUD worlds whole different kind of interaction online. yes you have to have the skills but then again i have the same problem with it as i do other things, its not a real world. Its not a real world but I know many people who would be pissed if their partner got themselves an online boyfriend/girlfriend.