Phantasies and Alternate Dimensions (feline_phantasy) wrote,
Phantasies and Alternate Dimensions

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Social Conventions, Concrete versus Virtual

I want to know why people think that common courtesy is not a requirement in virtual worlds.

Any one of us could recite a litany of situations where others have behaved in ways that they wouldn't dream of doing in concrete life. So why do they abandon social convention when their minds journey into virtual space?

It doesn't take a lot to figure out why some would be rude and crude on, say, message boards - the anonymity factor is a lot higher there and it's only words facing words. But in a virtual world, you have an avatar, and for all intents and purposes, that is a 3-dimensional graphic representation of you, a very real person. You can't exactly escape the 3D face-to-face in virtual worlds. Even if your 3D face is a great departure from your concrete world visage, you still very much have the sense of meeting the person "in the flesh". It speaks a lot about how much importance we put into the 3-dimensional to define ourselves as people.

Does group chat seem to reintroduce that heightened sense of anonymity? After all, all you have to do is look up that person's profile. If they have a business, you can go there, and sooner or later you will be facing their 3D self. I happen to think group chat is like a party line phone conversation between neighbors who could easily run into other participants at the local grocery store or gas station.

When I tell people that "what they see is what they get", I mean that in a very literal sense. My ways of interacting with others are truly no different in the virtual than in the concrete, or even further, in the Internet or on the phone, by letter, or any of the other myriad communication venues we all have. I have ethics in person; you see those ethics in my communications elsewhere. I have a sense of propriety and public courtesy in person and the same is reflected elsewhere. I am blunt, to the point, and not politically correct - and these things are likewise reflected elsewhere. It's this last set of characteristics that often alienate people, but I won't change them. They represent my authenticity.

So why is it that some people behave very badly in other venues of interaction and communication, especially virtual worlds? I think it's a fundamental "disconnect" between the persona they've crafted to present to the concrete world versus how they really are, inside. This would imply that they are not very nice people to most, but it can also imply that virtual world interaction strips away the defenses that keep their insecurities and worst fears from surfacing in the concrete.

Are you authentic no matter where you go, or do you find yourself being very different in the concrete versus the virtual? Why do you think some behave in "barbaric" ways in the virtual, doing things they wouldn't dare do in the concrete?
Tags: psychology, social convention, virtual worlds

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