reality check

Looking beyond Sandy Stone's characterization of curiosity as a male impulse, I do agree with many of her points in "Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?" I found most valuable to our discussions, what I call a reality check, that, the "virtual community originates in, and must return to, the physical."

Stone addressed an issue that is often lost in the more dreamy takes of some of our readers toward online communities, that such communities are grounded in physical reality and therefore the problems that plague the physical world, will in turn affect the virtual one.

Stone also addressed the theory of "Cyborg Envy," detailing why people are drawn to online communities. Stone believes that people see the virtual world as an escape of the pain and troubles of the real world, to a place with no accountability and complete freedom. She characterizes, this desire as the "adolescent boy" in all of us. However, I contend it is a desire in all people to escape. But, I also understand her point of view, for at the time of her writing, the computer world was very male dominated.

Stone offers a valuable take on online communities that proves very important to our discussions of second life. In second life one can create a new virtual identity, with a new look, wealth, job, etc. The question that begs answering is, in such a world, what kinds of limitations exist? Or in another way, is it really the place of no accountability and complete freedom, which drives people to use it?

The answer, that Stone would most likely give is no. In several ways this is clear. Ones imaginative capacity or ability to assume a certain virtual character is limited by life experiences; Identity theft shows how online actions can come back to the physical world; and the societal realities of the real world shape virtual interaction. These are just a few of many potential examples, but it becomes clear that one is not truly free of their physical self in the virtual world.