Tag Archives: identity

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Micro-Project 04: Media Addiction

Adopting a persona is the name of the game for this project, as all of us attempted to create a constant interactive virtual dialogue through the use of the Twitter platform. The #ossntu hashtag helped in unifying all of our tweets in one big stream. The final form reads like a script from a play, with characters either choosing to contribute to an idea at hand or butting in and aggressively attempting to divert the conversation to something else.

I decided to adopt the persona of a poet, and exaggerate my online persona through the use of excessive rhyming (a sort of poor man’s poetry if you will) by attempting to respond to most tweets in this manner. I saw this persona as another extension of my social persona, and something which I was interested in exploring through this micro-theater project.

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Looks like @whalebiologist_ hasn’t quite left seriousville just yet. Maybe he/she was having a bad day with…citations? (DUH!) Just from the tone in the tweet, one could infer that @whalebiologist_ was someone who probably enjoyed having control and who religiously abides by the “it’s my way or the highway” code of conduct. Perhaps that explains why nobody gave him/her the citations he/she was looking for.

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tweet_06An emoticon with hashtags used as mini sentences to express oneself.

Especially on the Internet, choice of words can play a big difference in how others perceive someone via the virtual self. Things like sarcasm and jokes are harder to detect online in such conversations unless they are punctuated with hastags, like #jking or #kidding, just to name a few. Emoticons also play a big part in this, helping to convey emotions online effectively. Even so, nothing quite beats having a face to face conversation with someone or with a group of friends. With that in mind, having a virtual conversation with a stranger or an acquaintance could be the first step to establish a connection in real-life later on.

Click here to read more about how people get addicted to their online personas!

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The Virtual Identity in Second Life: “You vent, You release, You repeat”

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Source: www.impawards.com

“Life 2.0” sheds light on a group of individuals who closely identify themselves with their virtual avatars. While Second Life might seem like any ordinary social game on the surface, it ends up meaning so much more for these everyday people.

The action-reaction relationship works both ways, where their actions in the virtual world could at times result in reactive effects in the real world. An example of this can be best seen in one of the individuals shown in the film who goes by the name “Ayya Aabye” in Second Life. What is unique about this particular example, is how the individual (a guy) adopts a female persona in the virtual world as way of trying to “explore another side of himself”. This persona becomes a virtual outlet for his fantasy and emotions, while his symbiotic relationship with his virtual avatar grows even stronger.

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“It’s like another part of me”

He mentions this many times when trying to explain his actions in the virtual space to his partner, but she sees this as something that is straining their real-life relationship. Their failure to see eye to eye on what is happening pushes them apart from one another, leading her to leave him eventually.

What seems interesting in the development of this scenario is that we eventually learn that this man was sexually abused at a young age. He says that perhaps this could have been a possible catalyst for his obsession with his female alter ego online. Could this manifestation in the virtual realm could have been a form of therapeutic release for his pent up emotions which he is unable to share with anyone else ?

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Plugged into the virtual, with no sense of fleeting time and the Real.

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The virtual identity becomes a virtual output: a release system for an individual to express himself without worry of causing any real physical harm to others. Ayya Aabye’s rampage of destruction as “she” tried to get herself banned from the servers is one example, where if something like this happened in the real world, the consequences would be devastating. Within the virtual realm, limits are imposed and things are kept in check. If citizens in Second Life step out of line, the admins would ban them or freeze their accounts for a set period of time or forever.

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In Ayya Aabye’s case, he was disappointed that he was banned for only a day as he was hoping to get his character banned for the long term so that he can force himself to “unplug” and go back to the real world. As such, he becomes stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of plugging into the virtual space, letting go of himself fully into his alter ego and enjoying this temporal release before having to find the need to go back in again. This endlessness is further cemented with his return to the virtual realm with a new avatar as a young boy after having terminated his “Ayya Aabye” persona a week ago. Such is the strength of the addiction to fueling the virtual fantasy escapades of the other Self.

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Image credit: Eran Cantrell Grabbed via www.gizmag.com

This brings to mind the subject of supernormal stimulus, and in this case, the heightened exaggeration of this fantasy reality of meeting new friends, new avatars while staying in character as a young girl, becomes favored over reality and his real-life partner. In such extreme cases, one has to practice due discretion and above all else, moderation. Otherwise, we become controlled by such forms of supernormal stimuli when instead we should be able to clearly reason and think for ourselves as to what the physical and the very real consequences of such reckless behavior hold in the real world.

To read more about the issue of dissociative identity in relation to this, check out Interactive Media, Death and Taxes.