One of the obvious differences between going to learn at a place like high school or Cal State Long Beach University and attending online classes at “Zoom University” is the learning environment. There is a pretty major difference between being in a classroom next to other students where you can directly interact with the professor and being behind a screen taking what you can from each activity through little tiny windows. Something that I think is especially significant is how basically everyone is staying at home to do all of their classes, which often means sitting looking at a bright screen for hours on end, every day. It has only been a couple weeks in and I am already having a much harder time focusing, and have begun to experience headaches soon into the sessions because of too much screen time. The only thing outstandingly similar between online classes and actual classes is the structure- lectures followed by activities, quizzes, and homework. That being said, although the difference is pretty drastic, over time we will probably end up becoming accustomed to these changes because of this consistency.
When it comes to comparing different forms of socializing with technology, media such as Instagram doesn’t quite meet the level of interaction that you get with a game or virtual world such as Animal Crossing or Minecraft. Starting at the beginning of quarantine, a group of my friends and I decided to all buy Nintendo switches and download Animal Crossing and other games to spend time with each other since we couldn’t in the real world. Apps such as Instagram and snapchat were always an available option, but didn’t compare to the closeness you feel when accomplishing tasks and going on little online adventures with one another. What social media lacks is activities (such as fighting monsters or building a town) that contribute to getting closer through more real encounters such as problem solving or teamwork. Although, an instance in which this sense of place can be experienced through social media can be seen through chatting or live videos. Here sharing and chatting opens doors to each others lives, which without modern technology would be less accessible in the period of time we have recently entered into.
Now when comparing socialization in the real world to a virtual world, there are a lot of similarities that contribute to why online worlds have become so popular during a time when meeting up has become complicated. For example, in Animal Crossing you can visit someones home and chat there, or do activities such as fish and catch bugs. Although the activities may not be the same as those you normally would do out in the real world, you are still buying, creating, collecting, socializing, etc. how you would in person.
As far as my perspective on a gaining a sense of place through virtual worlds, I have always understood how people could feel equally if not more so connected through gaming. Because we have entered a time where we are left with few options for socialization, many people are becoming quickly accustomed to experiencing this sense of place through online gaming. Conveniently for people who have always been into gaming, this is a much more familiar concept.
I can see how social media can have a role as a MMORPG for a lot of people, and can be seen as such especially for people who do not join in on traditional worlds of the sort. People who participate in social media often without realizing it have a goal when developing their profile, which involves making light of solely their best selves. This can become more drastic as one falls deeper into social media hole and begins to change the perceptions of others to see only what they allow and create. As you start to compare this to the real world, it becomes harder to mask yourself the way you would be able to in a virtual world, and your true self — even if it takes time — is much more hard to hide. Being able to control your surroundings is a key aspect that connects the real world and the virtual ones; its just a matter of what level of control you have over these things.