My virtual adventure

I’m not very familiar with virtual worlds, so our readings were very enlightening. The first reading titled Coming of Age in Second Life was a bit hard for me to follow. I felt the descriptive language he used and constant sourcing made it hard for me to read and comprehend at times. The part I enjoyed most was the excerpt where Tom Boellstorff talks about a typical day in Second Life. That portion helped me understand what someone could do in the program. While some parts were confusing, it was really interesting to hear how Boellstorff used Second Life for digital ethnography research.

I especially took note of the part where Boellstorff attended the wedding of two people in Second Life that had never shared any information with each other about their lives in the real world. I can see how bonds and relationships can form in virtual worlds, but to have a virtual husband or wife is a bit off putting especially when they are a real person on the other end.  I’m sure some of these people have real husbands and wives but are forming online bonds and relationships that their real world partners don’t know anything about. I haven’t quite figured out why it bothers me so much. For now I’ll just leave it at to each his own. Did anyone else question this section when they read it?

There are many tools that contribute to digital ethnography and I see them all as being very useful to a researcher. Online questionnaires and email interviews are convenient, save money and will allow a researcher to reach a broader range of people geographically. Social media is a great way to sit back and observe communication and interaction. It is also a way you can create communities to give out useful information.

It was interesting to read about integrating continuing medical education into a world like Second Life. While the set up and training was time intensive, it seemed the payoff was large for the attendees. One of the main things I like about a virtual world is the anonymity. It seems the doctors involved in the case study liked that aspect as well. People may have more confidence in a virtual world and talk about things they might not when engaged face to face. Are you more likely to interact in a different way when online than you would face to face?

This week I ventured into Second Life to give this virtual world a try. My first time was a bit awkward. I had a hard time navigating and figuring out where I should go and what I should do. The first place I wound up everyone was naked and they kept asking everyone to take off their clothes. I then sat down at some point and learned that if you teleport to another location in a sitting position, you are then stuck in a sitting position. I couldn’t get myself to stand up, so I walked around in a sitting position for a very long time. I wound up in a newbie area and found a very friendly man who tried to help me learn some things. I ended up logging off to correct the sitting position situation.

My second venture into Second Life was much smoother. I found it easier to get around. I still didn’t know what I should explore. I somehow wound up in a training area and was able to learn some new things about Second Life. As I wandered around I just didn’t see the appeal that Second Life has to some. I don’t strike up conversations with strangers in public, so I wasn’t all that inspired to chat with others in Second Life either. I can see how this kind of life can be addicting for those who join it. As you create friendships, there would be a pull to want to log on more often to engage with those friends. I’m glad I didn’t enjoy my virtual experience, because I don’t need anything else to take up my online time.

In Second Life what did your avatar look like and did you go for one that resembled you or was the opposite of you?


12 thoughts on “My virtual adventure

  1. The section about the virtual wedding got me thinking too! It made me wonder about the people getting “married.” Do they have husbands or wives already? How did they get to that level of “commitment?” And what does it mean to them to be married on SL? It also made me ask myself and my fiancé if that would be considered cheating. He said no, I said yes. What do you think?

    I don’t seem myself engaging much differently in a virtual world than I do in real life. I’m an introvert, and I like it that way. I tried to go up to someone in SL, introduced myself, and they just walked away. It made me laugh, but clearly SL is a place where you’d need to invest some time to get anything meaningful out of it. My avatar indeed resemble me, but that was only I check to see if I could be a duck because of my last name. No ducks, and I didn’t want to be a vampire!

    1. I would agree with you that a virtual relationship would be cheating on your real life partner. Interesting that your fiance didn’t agree.

      I chose someone that resembled myself as well. Funny how you had someone ignore you. I thought people were there to socialize. I guess not.

  2. Stacy, you had many of the same initial thoughts I did when entering Second Life for the first time. I just kept saying to myself “What am I doing here, literally, what am I doing?!” haha Honestly, if it hadn’t been for this assignment I may have never ventured into the 3D virtual world. And for many of the reasons Murthy listed in “Digital Ethnography: An Examination of the Use of Technologies for Social Research” about individuals being interested in sexual activity and deviance. It all just creeps me out. I mean, I get it in the sense of just being another social network where strangers can meet strangers or friends can connect easily, but the whole visual element makes it more creepy to me I guess.

    I did choose the avatar that was a female with blonde hair, similar to myself, although her fashion sense wasn’t quite as nice! haha I thought about changing her outfit, but like you I was having enough trouble getting down the basics of walking in the right direction and flying. Maybe the wardrobe change will come with time, although I hope I don’t have a wardrobe malfunction and wind up in that naked world you experienced!

    1. I found the outfit choices to be pretty interesting as well. There were so many pieces of clothing. I think I even saw undershirt, gloves and tights listed as options. Think of all the fun someone could have picking out clothes in a virtual world.

      The sexual part creeps me out too. I’m not sure I’ll ever wrap my head around that one and understand it.

  3. I am not a fan of Second Life. I can sort of see the appeal, but I just couldn’t get into it.

    Trying to be a forward thinker, I kept asking myself how could this be used now or in the future? What good can come of this? Meetings? Teachings? Maybe something, but what about a conference call via Skype or Adobe Connect or … or … yeah … I just can’t seem to understand why I would want to log into a virtual world to interact with others.

    I tried to interact with a few people, but most just told me to watch where I was going. So, that was that, although my avatar did resemble me a bit: tall-ish, blonde and Caucasian. Pretty vanilla, but that’s how I like it.

  4. Stacy,

    You and I had many of the same thoughts while being on Second Life. Like you, I am not very familiar with virtual worlds and I didn’t know they existed and were popular until our readings and lectures this week.

    I also questioned the wedding ceremony that took place on Second Life. I have watched several documentaries about people getting in online relationships via Facebook and Myspace while married, but I don’t think this kind of situation here on Second Life is any different. In my opinion, eventhough it is in a “virtual world” (that some like me would say is really non-existent), it is still kind of a form of cheating and infidelity. What do you think? I mean I would be mad if my significant other was married and carrying on a virtual relationship/family with someone else. Just kind of strange and weird to me.

    Of the different methods used for studying, I think social media would be the one that would provide the most insight to researchers today. What about you? What do you think?

    And I’m a very flexible and adaptable person, so I would behave online as I would in person (in most instances). I try to provide a true reflection of myself–regardless if it is on the phone, in person or online. What about you? Do you act differently depending on where the interaction takes place?

    I tried to create an avatar that looked like me. I named her Jade Sims (my alter ego) but I want to delete my account. I have no use for Second Life in my real life.

    1. I would consider a significant other carrying on a virtual relationship as cheating. While there wouldn’t be a physical relationship, there would definitely be an emotional connection and I think that is just as bad.

      I definitely agree that social media would bring a lot of insight to researchers. There are so many ways of communicating and sharing via social media. I’m sure they have endless research options in this arena.

      I think the only way I might act differently online than in real life would be being more vocal and opinionated. I have a tendency to hide behind a computer and feel I can express myself better through typing words than speaking them.

  5. There are crazy costumes, fetish related that you’ll encounter. SL freaks me out. I was forced to use it for a job, and I really did not enjoy the project or the virtual environment. It is was too slow and unpredictable. And the bugs like what happened with you and the sitting position happen ALL. THE. TIME. My avatar did look like me – but my coworker had his avatar that looked like him, and then he had an avatar that was a promiscuous woman. Goes to show you never know who you are talking to in SL.

    1. I was tempted to pick an avatar that wouldn’t represent me at all but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I found it hard to navigate around and I couldn’t really read signs unless I was really close to them. I guess people who use it a lot get use to the functions.

  6. (Apologies for making my comment late- I can NOT seem to remember that the deadline is in eastern rather than central time.)

    Your account of Second Life was hilarious. Teleporting while sitting down? I couldn’t figure out how to even turn around! I considering being a robot for fun, but eventually opted for a female with bright red hair- like me. I even tried to make her eyes green but didn’t know how. I guess that little bit of familiarity made me feel more comfortable traversing a strange world. I had trouble even finding other ‘people’ to talk to, since I stuck to the beginner-friendly worlds.

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