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    This is an interesting theoretical assertion, but I don't think there is any statistical studies to back it up. I don't have statistics either, but I've been a Second Life resident for three years now. The longer my avatar existed, the more he shared my real life values. Essentially, I am still me when I'm an avatar. But there are differences. My avatar is more successful in business and land ownership than me. Rather than substituting for, or undermining my real life, I believe it has been a confidence boost and helps me move ahead in my real life. Sometimes experimenting with personal traits, trying different personas help us define who we really are. It's much safer for that to happen in a virtual world.
    And, I advise not to compare virtual world/real world business crossover to Second Life as recreation or entertainment. Virtual worlds are a space, second life is a specific place, as is say, an IBM site that is constructed solely as an extension of the real life business platform.

    I agree on some points with this. Because of the anonimity in virtual environments one can be whomever one wants. To some, this can be an extension of self. But in an unmoderated place, such as SL was in some ways early on, there will always be individuals who will act out in ways they never would in real society. There is a huge difference in virtual interaction and real interaction. We depend on subtle visual and physical signals from the person we are talking to that cannot be transmitted (yet) through a keyboard or mic. Most of can remember atleast one in life where a phonecall or letter/email conversation suddenly went south on us for no apparent reason other than mis-interpretation on the other end.
    Just my 2 cents.

    Quoting from Lloyd's last paragraph:

    "Perhaps well-balanced individuals can simply extend their personalities and get the benefit of a deeper understanding of their own reactions and feelings. [...] Perhaps we all need to be anonymous at times as a means of maintaining a balanced real-world personality."

    Will humanity triumph, or destroy itself? Will MacGuyver save the day, or die horribly?

    Who says this has to be such a dichotomy?

    Some basis for most of this - but it's a bit of a stretch at this early stage. Previous discussions have centered on environments in which player representations are actually 'killed' and otherwise abused.

    Also, it is an entirely different situation in open-ended worlds like Second Life - a fact obvious to residents, but not one that not many have given much focus to yet.

    The National Portrait Gallery of Australia currently has an interesting exhibition running on this issue of identity. the Exhibition is running concurrently in Second Life and at the real National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

    I would like to comment on the notion of

    "Can an individual (who exists in both virtual and real worlds) continue to function on two conflicting sets of social expectations and norms?"

    Isn't this the de facto situation in so called real world? In companies and organizations we are expected to follow certain, many times more conservative, norms and codes, which we feel are too agonizing in real life (in contrary to the artificial world of company/organization world).

    So, should we talk about three, not necessary conflicting, sets of social expectations and norms?

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