Joining Second Life and making an avatar has been a really interesting and new experience. I just wanted to reflect on my experience in one of my last posts before it is all said and done. Although I tried to emerge myself in the Second Life community, make friends (such as Tilma and edduarddo110) and join in conversations, I cannot say that I will stay on Second Life. I am not a huge online gamer or virtual world joiner, but I did enjoy the chance to force myself to try it once. I can see how people enjoy Second Life, but to me I would rather interact with the people I know in my real life, and honestly was very creeped out by some of the things residents said to me! The chat below shows how a normal conversation can turn sexual by a user who obviously is using Second Life for a different reason than me!
Looking over the Wikipedia page on Internet Forums, I realized they had nothing included about identity.
To me, identity is very important to participating in a web forum, because it shapes how others perceive you. You have the ability to include or exclude information about yourself, or even generate made-up information. Before I really added much to my account biography, many people weren’t viewing my profile, and that may have been a reason no one really interacted with me – because I was no one, I had no identity! … Either way, no one really interacted with me a whole lot on a personal level, but that’s possibly due to other factors, like level of engagement, timeline, etc.
So, here is the post I added to Wikipedia!
About a week ago I added to the Support Group Wikipedia page and today I went back to see if what I added was still there and it was not. I’m guessing what I did wrong was add a link that Wikipedia needed to evaluate before they officially add it to their cite. however, i do like the policies they have because otherwise anyone could go messing up pages by adding false information As you can see from this pic there are a number of differnet types of support groups that are listed however, the one that I am focusing on for my project was not (loss of a pet). Even though I tried to add it last week, the formating must have been a little off because what I added was removed 😦 . O well still kind of interesting to try!
In the closing weeks of my practicum project, I have been reflecting a lot on the entire process. Looking back, I realized my participation on the site was limited due to technological barriers. For example, I was not able to video chat with another user because either the connection was off, or our machines were not compatible. I also realized that me lying about my identity on the site probably made it difficult for me to fully participate. Perhaps if I was truthful about my purpose on the website, and I made it clear that I was a researcher, I would be getting more useful feedback. I was also thinking maybe I should have made a different choice with the chat room, and chosen a site with less inappropriate conversation. If I chose a more G-rated site, I may have gotten a better feel for what tweens are actually doing in chat rooms (other than talking about sex).
Regardless of all of these points, I feel that I did learn a lot from my experience on Chathour, and unfortunately I can’t go back now. I’m glad I chose one site and stuck to it.
Today as I was participating in my alcoholism online support group I came across a post that I havn’t seen before. Throughout the last two months of being a member and reading the forums all of the posts have pertained to having a problem with alcohol or shared experiences and support for dealing with the struggle for sobriety. A new post uploaded today from a member named Bill had a headline titled “Off Topic”. I was intrigued so I decided to read his post and the accompanying comments. Bill had been an active member of the online support group for alcoholism and participated in many discussions involving his problems and offered support to others. Today his post had nothing to do with alcohol and, instead, he told the rest of the online community how he had just received a job offer working in a sales department at a church. There were 10 accompanying comments of congratulations for Bill and questions as to how he secured the position. Not once throughout the entire post/comment did anyone mention alcohol or sobriety.
I realized that for many people these online support groups offer more than just support for a specific topic. Bill had already gained the respect and trust of others and considered others in the group as friends who he wanted to share the good news with. Everyone was supportive and (from what I understood) showed genuine interest in Bill and his accomplishment. The online support group serves as a platform for people to be listened to and friendships can be developed (even if these people have never come into contact with eachother). This was very interesting for me and I also congratulated Bill even though I havn’t spoken with him ever before.