Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Real Relationships in Virtual Space

Hey, everyone. I guess it's been a while; so much for my wanting to post more consistently. If you're wondering, a combination of too much work and not enough play left me without energy or inspiration, so I've failed to post anything since my anniversary post in January. I just realized that last month was the first calendar month since I started this blog that I did not post at least once. This is also the longest gap I've had between posts. If you're still around, thanks for hanging in there.

I got caught up on Battle Bards (though I just saw Syp has posted another), and realized I had missed Belghast's Bel Folks Stuff with Petter Mårtensson, of Csicon and other endeavors. Bel and Petter, discussed (among other things) "virtual" relationships, and how they can be just as real as what I would call "meatspace" relationships. This is the culmination of several threads and discussions I have had recently on this topic. My daughter and I were talking yesterday about Facebook, and how because of FB's stream algorithms, you might end up seeing a lot more from people you may not have been that close to in high school, and your best buds fall off the feed. I have actually met almost all of my "friends" on FB, but I feel closer to and interact on a daily basis with far more people on Twitter, most of whom I have never met in person at all, and then only because we had already cultivated a friendship online. In many ways, FB represents "somebody that I used to know," while Twitter (and G+) represents my current circle of friends.

Now, as I am sure is the case with you, there is some overlap between my virtual social sphere and my meatspace friendships. I have friends and co-workers that I have played MMOs with and that I occasionally hang out with if we are on trips. Of course, Scooter and I share our life together, both in person and online.

Xander from Beyond the Veil mentioned yesterday that he misses his buddy since I dropped out of the show. I worry about Scarybooster when he deploys to the Middle East. I wonder how MMOGC is doing with her family. These are real friends of mine. I know people who have fallen in love completely online, and their feeling is not diminished by its virtuality. In verifying that February was indeed the only month I had completely missed, I came across a couple errant comments covering the concept of the Monkeysphere, and my view that at a fundamental level, our brains don't comprehend the difference.

Petter and Belghast speculated about a future where we will be able to fully experience virtual reality, talking about direct stimulation of the brain's sensory regions. While I agree that this is a closer possibility than the holodecks of Star Trek: the Next Generation, I initially thought that holodecks would be better for us because of their relative physicality. But Petter and Bel pointed out that "jacking in" could free persons locked into the physical limitations of disabling injuries or illnesses, enabling them to interact once again with loved ones in virtual space.

And that sounds like a beautiful thing.
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  1. I was commenting yesterday that a solid chunk of my "virtual" friends from gaming seem to either be from Texas or Canada. The psychologist in me wondered if there was something culturally or personality-wise that made that link up easier. A world of research awaits!

    1. That may partly be that you're online at about the same time. A good chunk of my gaming friends are in the Central or Eastern time zones. I have friends in California; but between the time difference and their lifestyles, they are are just sitting down to the computer when I am signing off for the night.

    2. What Rowan said, plus, in MMOs servers are a "natural selection" for the player pool you can build friendships from. I've got a lot of virtual friends from England, the Netherlands and Scandinavia in MMOs, because players of those nationalities seem to end up on EU English speaking servers and join international guilds. (E.g. there are often German- and French-speaking EU servers in MMOs, hence less players of those nationalities. Players from other nationalities either don't play MMOs in the same numbers or prefer to stick to nationality-based guilds.)

      That said, in the blogosphere things get mixed up a bit better: there are so many American gaming bloggers! :)

  2. You had me a bit worried there, always blogging so much and then suddenly disappearing for a month. Glad to have you back!