MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Second Life, Web 2.0 and Social Stratification

You Can Be Anything You Want! Except a Loser.

You Can Be Anything You Want! Except a Loser.



I’ve noticed a few posts talking about perpetuation of steretypes through Second Life and identity online and community interaction online. Which got me reading and got me thinking (in tangents) about something DeNel said about ownership of information. 

Web 2.0 is not revolutionizing community or interpersonal interactions at all. Oh sure it’s giving introverts the opportunity to feel apart of a community and to speak and feel comfortable in a setting of their choice. It’s also giving a forum for people to cheer, bitch or promote about their interests. But these forums DO exist in the ‘real world’  and they are available to anyone who choose to use them which is exactly the same as the real world.  So what does web 2.0 change? It connects the world to one another which is supposed to stimulate tolerance and understanding of culture when in fact it is just being used as an impirical device to enhance Western sprawl (sort of like urban sprawl only with Western ideologies). What does Second Life do that makes the real world so unappealing? I don’t know maybe Furry

This perceived freedom of expression and ability to socialize and create your own personal online identity is a big farce. Social stratification still exists and top down power structures are still operating and another thing … your ‘online identity’ that you have strived so hard to create across multiple platforms doesn’t even belong to you! Facebook owns your information, you can’t export your Twitter page or blogs or blog comments or LinkedIn recommendations to any one tangible ID that you actually own. Heck,  you aren’t even a REAL PERSON in Second Life. I mean the title of the program (Second Life) implies that you can create a second life which translates to (in my brain, at least) an opportunity to escape from all my faults in my first life and start new. 

But I’m not really escaping the things that I want to escape from because social stratification and capitialism are still dominant in the virtual world. For example, today in class Laura was chastized by a Second Lifer for not editing her skin tone and told her she looked like a ‘newbie.’ Smells like Alabama in 1943 to me. This sort of behaviour happens ALL OVER the interweb.  If you don’t ‘get it’ you will be mocked, insulted and ostricized for your ignorance. If you want better customer service you no longer phone the company, you bitch about them on Twitter and depending on how impressive your social capital is you can get the ‘executive treatment’. Poor grandpa is still stuck with the jerk on the wrong end of the ‘customer service line’ because he doesn’t get it. Web 2.0 and Second Life are manufactured in the real world by real people and therefore it is governed by the same social mores that we expect. This isn’t different … only in the way it is sold to us. 

So here is my idea for SL why don’t you try making your entire ‘world’ socialist, androgenous and ‘chat less.’ That would be something ‘different’. 

I’m feeling heated, how about you?


May 27, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. I think you’re correct, emjay08. We cannot assume that the virtual world is classless. We could work to make it that way, but a) online/offline is a blended lived space, and b) you’d need a lot of Linden $ or otherwise!

    Comment by doctor d | June 12, 2009 | Reply

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