Over the past week I have realized some things about the growing virtual world and myself. Our AIM assignment forced me to view life through the eyes of someone different than myself. Leading on the idea that I was an African American drug-dealing thug, Emanuel Jenkins III, who outlived his time in NFL, I believe I embodied some of Sherry Turkle’s points in her article “Life on the Screen.” Turkle argued many interesting points that at first didn’t make me think twice, but after this assignment I can understand her views in a different light because of the first hand experience we were provided with in doing this assignment.
First, she exclaims, “A MUD can become a context for discovering who one is and wishes to be.” This argument alone had me scratching my head at first because I didn’t believe an alternate persona could be such a powerful tool for expressing one’s true self. Secondly, she chronicles that MUDs can be an “escape valve” for anger in your real life. This concept was also something that was apparent in my AIM assignment. Lastly, Turkle’s argument that, “virtual worlds offer experiences that are hard to come by in real life,” had me rolling my eyes when I first browsed through the article. Dealing with the virtual for even a week has made me think “wow.” But little did I know, and the experience has been a true roller coaster of emotions that has left a lasting impression on me.
My alternate persona was someone that I do not wish to be, and took part in things that I don’t agree with. In the end however, I was asking myself why I enjoyed playing him out so much? Then I realized this exercise allowed me to express myself through the character even though he did not resemble me as a person or have any of character traits. My chatting partner, who had the identity of a “demon” asserted their views and appearance to me in the beginning; I personally did not agree with that they were saying. In a school setting I would have never spoke out against this type of thing to avoid conflict, but using the internet as an avenue of expression I became abrasive towards my AIM partner. I would not define myself as a confrontational person with strangers, but this experience would have been hard to come about in my every day routine. I openly questioned everything about this person’s life and the mere idea of being a “demon.” I poked fun of their lifestyle, harassed them, all while asserting my own views. It turned out to be a very empowering feeling, because I hit home with them on a personal level without having to take the repercussions directly. This whole experience on the AIM for me personally truly embodied some of Turkle’s key points.
The assignment gave me a taste of what the virtual world has to offer to not just those looking to establish a new identity, but even those looking for an avenue of self expression. Eliminating the potential consequences of such conversations is what I believe gives you such an emotional rush that can be found in few place the real world. These chats really opened my eyes to the virtual world as a whole, and made me understand why it is becoming a national trend.