Thursday, April 18, 2013

An Attempt to Escape


As we go through life, we start to identify with certain things that surround us, such as sports, education, fashion, friends and family. This identity is not just created by association with surroundings, but people’s identity and image is created in a way so that they are viewed in a positive light, depending on the audience. People care about how they are viewed by other people. “Selves are preformed through an acknowledgement of how others see us” (Martey & Consalvo, 2011 p.179). Because of the stress of attempting to impress, people try to escape, but does it really become an escape?

In order to escape from the stress and chaos of reality, people enjoy movies and music, but this escape is only temporary. Virtual “reality” based worlds; provide an experience that allows people to live a life that may be unrealistic, but can be a stress reliever to real life. But can this truly be healthy, and is it really an escape the stress of being judged and how people are seen.  

Avatar experiences such as Second Life, or even creating an avatar through gaming systems such as the Wii or Xbox 360, allows a person to be who they want to be, and act how they want to act. But there still seems to be pressure to be liked or understood. Even in an environment that is not “real”, people feel the need to be accepted. “Although the range of potential identities and dress opportunities in Second Life are wider than in the physical world, we encountered reluctance to change, worries about not fitting in, and appearance as an important part of one’s identity” (Martey & Consalvo, 2011 p.179). If in an attempt to escape, people still want to be accepted, they face the same issues that they do in “real” life.

I found this article incredibly interesting. What is the point of interacting with an avatar in order to “escape” if the same pressures can exist? I don’t see the point of participating in an activity that can add more stress to a person’s life. When I go to a movie or listen to music, I do so in order to disconnect, and relax. The avatar experience provides a way to disconnect, but according to the article, the relax factor is not present. Participating in these experiences could be because people are not happy with their current life. That is the only explanation that truly makes sense to me. If I am going to disconnect, I want it to be relaxing, not attempting to impress other people.   

2 comments:

  1. I think one of the biggest draws to things like second life is anonymity. True, those who participate in interactions with avatars are probably doing so to escape "real" life and may feel the same pressures to try to fit in, but if they don't fit in nobody knows who they really are and they can move on. Also, I think there's a level of independence felt by those who have virtual "alter egos". People's inhibitions are lowered by this mask of anonymity and they may do things in the virtual world they would never do in real life. It's a lot easier to get away with stuff when nobody knows who you are.

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  2. I can see why people would want to play things like Second Life. I see my own husband play video games with characters he makes so that he can unwind from the day not in the real world. The real world is stressful! I can imagine a lot of people use things like Second Life to be a different version of themselves that they are either too shy, or too afraid to be in their real life. I do however notice a lot of people using the fact that people don't know who they are online to be mean. It's a lot easier to be critical when people don't know who you are.

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