It is certain that the Internet impacts a person’s sense of identity.
As humans, we are live by language, and as an Internet user, one submits himself to an existence that is pure language: written, audio, and visual language. This reality, distilled down to pure language, is appealing to most people. There is no violence online. There are no social expression norms.
A person can be, say, or do precisely as he chooses. More than 131 million people populate the Internet. Why is VR so attractive? When a person is born, many things are decided for him. No one is asked if their name or visage adequately describes his person or psyche.
His genetic makeup is created from that already contained in his parents, and they dress and feed him with things they personally enjoy. It is many years later before he can begin to make decisions about who he is, and by then, so much has been laid down as factual evidence to the content of his character. The Internet has now permeated our society. Someone can decide who they are at the beginning of a new life, to be reborn in cyberspace.
There is the issue of naming oneself, to feel inside and find what makes someone himself. When one signs up with any Internet Service Provider, the first thing it will ask is for his new name. In *1*The Matrix*1* Mr. Anderson named himself Neo: “New” and also an anagram for the “One” he truly was.
There is now also the ability to visualize the image of self and present that as an avatar in a visual virtual environment, a step up from nomenclature and font color self-expression. Deciding what one looks like as an imaginary character is also interesting, and like naming oneself it can be good psychotherapy. These are used in elaborate chat rooms where participants immerse themselves in whole new worlds, and where identity is defined by images and one’s own character description. As in a story, dialogue will also define a character, virtual or otherwise.
“Your words are your deeds, your words are your body,” says *2*Sherry Turkle*2*. There are even thousands of sites that offer self-inspection quizzes to help people define themselves in a few short questions. What is clear is that the Internet fluidly becomes an extension of the self, and can play an important role in defining our identities. Walt Whitman discusses childlike identity changes with, “A child went forth every day/And the first object he look’d upon/That object he became.
” In real life (RL) people are told what to do and where to be and how to do so. There are social norms that presume to inhibit our opinions. That is culture. Yet in Cyberspace, the immaterial existence of virtual reality (VR), people become in many ways, the masters of themselves and writers of the universe.
How can that not be seen as more appealing?