The Impact of Second Life

Second Life makes a huge difference on how people socialize in the real world. Second Life helps users build real life social skills. It’s kind of hard for people to have a conversation with one another because we are alone all the time. When you’re a person that separates themselves from others or an extrovert, they go on Second Life to have conversations with different users instead of real life people because they care about what others have to say and feel more of a connection with them. Sherry Turkle talks about how our conversations have become shorten because of our connection with people isn't strong enough. In the video, Connected, but Alone, we see demonstrations on how others don’t have the social skills to have a conversation so they go online an express themselves.

Turkle mentions the technologies we use don’t only change what we do, but change who we are. Second Life is a way for us to stay anonymous and still socialize with people. In Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?, Alexandra Alter mentions “Academics have only recently begun to intensively study the social dynamics of virtual worlds, but some say they are astonished by how closely virtual relationships mirror real life. “People respond to interactive technology on social and emotional levels much more than we ever thought,” says Byron Reeves, a professor of communication at Stanford University. “People feel bad when something bad happens to their avatar, and they feel quite good when something good happens.” There have been some tests on Second Life of how people recognize they were playing with not a computer, but a real person like “Other experiments show that people socializing in virtual worlds remain sensitive to subtle cues like eye contact. In one study, participants moved their avatars back if another character stood too close, even though the space violation was merely virtual, says Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, which was created five years ago to study social behavior in virtual worlds.”

Second Life has no rules to follow. It gives time for people to play it without any boundaries at all “And mostly I tend to think that restrictive measures around here cause more trouble than they prevent.” It can cause for bad things to happen to the users around them. However, a disadvantage for people is that too much power in the wrong hands can be detrimental because for example Julian Dibbell says in A Rape in Cyberspace, “They say that by manipulating the doll he forced them to have sex with him, and with each other, and to do horrible, brutal things to their own bodies.” Turkle says we are using the power for the wrong reasons in different situations and we’re setting up for trouble for ourselves and others.

Second Life is not only for the gamers, but for people with disabilities too. Second Life helps people engage in conversations with a physical or mental disability, but “According to the founder of Brigadoon, “A lot of what is happening in Second Life is social. And I thought that this could be a fantastic place for people with Asperger Syndrome. Give them a simulated environment and let them practice social skills in a three-dimensional space.” It’s a great way for people in the community to practice on how to get their social skills at a higher level because it will make a difference to them having a better understanding on what others are saying.

With Second Life, having online conversations on different social media sites when you have an avatar is very complicated. People have difficulties trying to interact on social media because it’s hard to recognize somebody when they pretend to be something they’re not which “Researchers have shown that avatars tend to interact similarly to human beings in real life. They meet, spend time together and make friends. This behavior suggests that avatars construct an online social network, an Internet-based network that represents the social relationships existing among human beings.” However, we are also seeing other people try to go for a much more serious relationship than others on Second Life.

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