Back in October, I was asked as part of a class to register on Second Life so that I could participate in class time activities. Up until that moment, I had heard of SL but I had never participated on it. I belonged to virtual communities, such as MySpace, Facebook, and Black Planet, but other than World of Warcraft, I had never immersed myself into a world before.
We only immersed ourselves in SL for a few class periods, but I began to go on during off time, just to check out the universe. It wasn’t until January 2010, however, that I began to fully play on SL, and it was just that: PLAY. I went and bought clothes with my daughter (RL and SL), I invited my best friend to join us on SL, and we played.
But then something happened. My best friend, a huge go-getter and doer, decided to start businesses on SL–pretty much turn my fun into serious work–like my real life. Over the last couple of months, I haven’t been as serious as her on SL, but I am a homeowner there, I do have (with my BFF) homes that we rent to residents, I do co-own a clothing store, I even go to church on SL.
And it’s been interesting, the blur between my real life and my second life. And of course, my academic heart soars because my main research interest (and focus for dissertation work) lies in how identities are (re)constructed through virtual worlds and communities, particularly those identities belonging to African Americans.
In April, my BFF pledged a sorority on SL, and I decided to do the same thing as some preparatory immersion research–to truly get myself into an organization, interacting with others, figuring out how my identities blur, live within these two arenas — real world and second life world. I just finished my first week of pledging, and next week, I go into what’s being called HELL WEEK–the last week of pledging before we cross over.
I’ve been taking notes, and what I hope to do over the next several postings here is talk about my thoughts and feelings on the experience and then at some point, begin to embed research/sources into the work to maybe cull into a paper. There are a few things I’m interested in talking about. The first couple of posts will probably focus on the creating of an identity, something that’s been taking place since I joined. Then, I might move to talk about faith and SL and how my experiences with church on SL has been just as moving and poignant as any experiences I’ve had in RL churches. And then I will probably move on to talk about my experience as a pledge of the RhoSE Sorority on SL.
I know this experience is starting to “get” to me because I just created a Facebook page for my SL ego, Shon Charisma [link]. Seems she has a lot to say.
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