Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rheingold and Dibbell

Rheingold's piece was an interesting read. I was shocked, honestly, by the idea that people trade away real-life experiences for social interactions with people who they can't ever truly know or connect with. At the beginning of the piece I was taken aback by the value people put into their online persona. "More than just your imaginary character is at stake. Buffy's fate will influence the virtual lives of other characters who represent real friends in the material world" Frankly, at the risk of seeming crude, who cares? For me it's difficult to understand the value of spending so much time, investing so much feeling, caring so much about something that has no application or value in the real world. Rheingold said that these characters represent real friends, and continues later on his paper to say that often people mis-represent themselves online.

The whole process of MUDding seems over-fabricated. Although I'm sure many users are honest, genuine people, there simply is never a way of knowing for sure who you're dealing with online. In essence, there is no accountability for what one says or the image one projects. One can masquerade as a disabled woman but in actuality be a middle-aged man. It's sad to me to think that people developed what they considered strong friendships with this faux-friend, but were crushed in the end when they realized the person wasn't who they thought they were. It seems simpler to befriend people in the real world.

I was interested what rheingold and his sources had to say about the addiction to connectivity, the absolute necessity of one to be constantly branched to others. This is for sure an internet phenomena, something that didn't happen before the increased connectivity made possible by the internet.

This all reminded me of one of my favorite South Park episodes, to be found here if one's really interested:

Other thoughts I jotted down: possible escape from the real world, the demographics of MUDders makes me think the whole thing springs from a lack of occupation, that it was somewhat funny that MUDding is almost like a drug, people trading a real-life for a virtual-one, bizarre that someone can fall in love with a person they've never seen to the point where they propose marriage.


online sexual violence!

what kind of person is so depraved that they feel a sexual attraction towards a virtual person?

I really don't understand how a voodoo doll can cause online rape? Really confused... Seems like everybody else played along, cause it would be the simplest thing in the world to turn off the freaking computer.

What is the appeal? These people must be terrified of real social interaction.

Why continue to contribute to a MUD where such ridiculous things happen?


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