Week 10 Readings: Human + Machine
Posted by heidideckermaurer
The Longo reading from the Spilka book was interesting, even though the article was all over the place. She makes several statements about the genuineness of computer mediated interaction:
Virtual communities encourage simulated social interactions that lead to simulated human connections” (p. 148).
Those of us who inhabit digital worlds often claim that virtual communities are like “real” communities or are even better than “real communities, reassuring ourselves that a virtual life is OK, that it is not detrimental to “real” life (p. 155).
As people become more removed from one another in the physical world, we assure ourselves that the technological revolution enabling this alienation facilitates an idealized community, while also dismantling our physical community. This assertion comforts us, because we come to believe that an online virtual world such as Second Life is just like “real” life and is, therefore, OK (p. 156).
These statements just really set me off. I think it is because of the “normal-centrism” of her statements. Both Long and Turkle are criticizing a milieu that attracts people who are often marginalized within their physical communities. People who like games like Second Life, World of Warcraft and other online games are considered “geeky” or “nerdy.” They are either shy or have been teased into isolation or otherwise rejected by others. Now that a different environment has been created where they can thrive, scholars are trying to assert that what they are doing is somehow wrong. Longo asks, “Can virtual social connections established within a human + machine culture satisfy our human need to connect with other people?” (p. 148). If that’s the only kind of interaction wherein these people have been successful, I say, YES!
One of the sources she quotes says “…to “simulate is to feign to have what one hasn’t,” and “simulation threatens the difference between ‘true’ and ‘false,’ between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’”(Baudrillard p. 167-168). If the choice is to continue to try and insert yourself into a physical social construct that rejects you over and over again versus thriving in an environment where people accept you, most people are going to choose acceptance over rejection.
One of the silly things about this argument is the fact that nobody gets their pants in a bunch when people talk on a home phone. That’s machine-mediated communication, and it is so unsophisticated as to only let you talk to one person at a time. Why aren’t scholars freaking out about telephone calls? They’re studying cell phone use, but why not the cordless we carry all over our homes?
The geeks finally have someplace to be. Like it or not.
Here’s my creative bit for this week. It’s a rap about geeks, to the tune of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which you can listen to before reading the rap to yourself.
Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I like to take a minute: just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I kill a dragon in its lair.
Now out in a suburb born and raised
I was a chubby kid with a funny old face
Kinda getting’ teased when I’m going to school
By the jocks and the greasers who thought they were cool
When a couple of guys who were up to no good
Startin making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
She said ‘You’re playin’ in the basement, now stay down there.”
I begged and pleaded with her day after day
But she bought me a computer and some games to play.
She gave me a keyboard and then she gave me my mouse.
I put my headphones since I was stuck in the house.
World of Warcraft, yo this is bad
Drinking potions out of a round flask.
Is this what the people of Azeroth living like?
Hmmmmm this might be alright.
I joined up in a guild and we had no fear
The monsters said “RAAAR” and we put it in gear
If anything I can say the treasure was rare
Told my guildies – “To the big boss, we’re just about there.”
I pulled up to the dragon cave at 7 or 8
And I yelled to the my guildies “Yo homies this is fate”
I looked at the dragon
We were finally there
I was having an adventure sittin’ right in my chair.
Addendum: I found this yesterday on the internet:
PPS. For some reason I thought the creative tag meant I should separate it. Don’t know where I got that idea from but I put it back together with its original post and just clicked the “creative” category. DERP!
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