Sunday, January 3, 2010

What do people think about anonymity, identity and privacy in SL?

Today I offered the following response to an interesting post in the Dwell On It blog by Tateru Nino. She lead her comments off with the following statement.
“Here’s the thing I don’t get. People talk as if they expect life to just cease or suspend itself while certain activities are performed.

What the heck is up with that?...”
See the following link for full quote:  Dwell On It

It is an interesting read. Check it out. I would be interested to hear anyone’s thoughts about the issue of identity, “real life”, “alternatives to real life” and the role of virtual worlds in your life. I certainly don’t expect us all to agree… and clearly that is also part of the diversity that enriches all of life.

My response in support of Tateru’s post follows (with some cleaned up editing):

“I couldn't agree more. I know folks like to compartmentalize aspects of their life... we all do it. My professional work life from my weekend activities. But this separation is only a mental construction. Sure that construction has it's uses, but I often see other folks in "virtual worlds" (note the phrase... a mental construct) who place phrases in their profile such as: “What happens in sl stays in sl.” I find such sentiments interesting. Are they really that good at compartmentalizing? Others will express sentiments such as:  “SL is a game… don’t ask about my rl”. I don’t mind careful people when it comes to protecting one’s privacy… and anonymity in sl is perhaps a topic for another day… but I am not sure why responding to a nosey question can’t be something like, “I’m sorry I don’t know you well enough to share that info with you.” Even I try not to carelessly broadcast my full name and details around on the web, but it isn't hard to figure me out. Usually just asking me will work.

As for labeling the compartmentalized aspect of their lives that include SL by calling it a game… I fear it is usually intended to mean “I am not taking this activity seriously”. I am sure folks will argue, but again… why not say in your profile something like “ I am not sure what I think of this place… it is hard for me to take it seriously.” Besides… I personally think Play is vital to a healthy life. In fact Play (unstructured, exploring, learning, interacting, pretending, being childish, etc) is vital to healthy brain development in ALL humans… children or not. Perhaps I just prefer a more relaxed honesty from folks. But hey that is just me. In the mean time I continue to explore all aspects of the Metaverse. (For those more comfortable with more rigid compartmentalization Metaverse for me connotes the all encompassing Universe of life… from the playful to the virtual to the professional or ‘real life’). “

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