Users of Second Life often spend their time in virtual settings to communicate with others. But why not communicate face-to-face with others in your town or community? Whether individuals lack social skills or are concerned with their physical appearance, Second Life has proven to be successful for various individuals. But what impact does it have in a real life setting or one’s image of themselves?
From one’s first visit to Second Life, the initial creation of a character says a lot about how one perceives their persona or hopes to accomplish in the virtual world. The dilemma: make my avatar indicative of my appearance or alter my physical traits to seem more attractive, cool, or engaging? Detailed in a 2008 Times article, the visual appearance of an avatar on Second Life has a significant impact on communication efforts. Studies have shown that those who create a more attractive avatar are more confident and assertive in their online communication efforts, as they are proud of the characteristics that they have created. But what about those who attempt to represent themselves accurately in the virtual world?
Individuals who depict themselves accurately on Second Life, however, may have more difficulty in finding companions or successful communication. These same people often have a negative image of themselves prior to joining virtual worlds, thus creating an avatar that may not exude confidence or physical attraction. These individuals will often use their online experiences to change their real-life appearance, such as attempting to change habits or dressing differently. Despite these observations, many users of Second Life are unhappy with their personality and use virtual worlds to make new friends and enjoy personal satisfaction. Luckily for users of Second Life, satisfaction can be accomplished through virtual worlds.