Thursday, April 17, 2008

Reflection on class discussion

One thing that sticks in my mind after the discussion is the contradiction between views of Second Life and some other online communities. A lot of students agreed that Second Life could provide people who are shy or lack communication skills a manner to learn better communication skills, which can ultimately transcend Second Life into Real Life. People praised the leadership and communication skills as well as the form of expression as a legitimate way to gain Real Life skills. However, when we talked about the rape in cyberspace and computer games such as War of the Worlds in which people kill each other, many students said that they enjoy doing those actions, but would never do them in real life. Someone then said that you have to remember the difference between Virtual and Real worlds, which completely contradicted the previous assertion about the skills someone can apply to their real worlds. One girl gave a good example, saying that her friend spent so much time on a violent, interactive computer game that he began to manifest these aggressive, violent tendencies in his real life, so much as to provoke his friends to confront him about his changes. I think it's applying Second Life to one's real life to such an extent is scary and dehumanizing. If university classes were held in a classroom on Second Life in place of actual human interactions in a real classroom, the students and professors will lose so much from the experience. From my perspective, it's important to understand these online communities and virtual worlds from an anthropological perspective, but one should recognize their limitations and realize how dehumanizing technology can be. It's a pretty scary world where humans don't interact in person, but resort to all interactions on a computer.

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