Description of Virtual Environments
Various communication technologies, currently developing at an immensely high pace, became an integral part of the contemporary social and personal life, and the phenomenon of virtual environments is one the most interesting subjects to consider. Virtual environment is defined as an online environment, where people can communicate, produce and consume information, participate in various activities such as gaming, and be a part of the Internet community. Regarding virtual environments that I actively use, Fantasy Football could be the example since it is a platform where I can share my interests and passion for football with other people. I use it approximately 10 to 15 hours a week.
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Analysis of the Story on When Strangers Click
In the HBO documentary under consideration, which is entitled When Strangers Click, the phenomenon of virtual environments and issues related to them is investigated (HBODocs, 2011). It is evident that the people’s need for romantic relationships translates into the search for love online. The first story of the documentary focuses on Second Life, which is an immensely representative example of the phenomenon under discussion since it combines virtual reality, gaming, and active communication. This story is about Kim, who flew from the U. S. to Prague, Czechia to marry a man she had never spoken to (HBODocs, 2011). In my opinion, this is the examples of people becoming more integrated into virtual environments as they make a important decision based on the online communication.
The Comparison of Virtual Reality Technology with Other Virtual Environments
The invention of Oculus Rift, a new virtual technology, is an immensely important step in the development of virtual environments. According to the article by Davis, Nesbitt, and Nalivaiko (2015), the interest in such technologies as Oculus Rift is rapidly increasing in gaming and business communities. However, it is essential to state that the virtual technology tool under discussion differs considerably from such seemingly similar environments as Second Life and Fantasy Football. One of the core purposes of any virtual environment is to imitate real-life experiences, but Oculus Rift provides such an immense experience that the phenomenon of cybersickness occurs among its user, which is not so widely recognized within other mentioned virtual environments.
The Application of Functionalism Theory in the Context of Social Anxiety
The employment of virtual environments by individuals who have social anxiety issues is a considerably interesting question. According to the functionalist theory, the function of virtual environments is to provide an experience compared to real life. Therefore, people who experience problems with interacting with other members of society can perform the functional need for communication through the means of virtual environments. However, there is a risk of developing an addiction to this substitute of real-life interaction.
Discussion of Virtual Environments from Different Theoretical Perspectives
The previous section developed a definition of the virtual environment and its place in the contemporary society by referencing to functionalist theory terms. However, it is also possible to overview this phenomenon from the grounds of conflict theory. Several conflicts might arise from the development of virtual environments, such as technology gap between different generations of people from different countries, inequality in access to the technology, and such phenomenon as cyberbullying, derived from conflicts of virtually confronting individuals (Bottino, Bottino, Regina, Correia, & Ribeiro, 2015).
From the standpoint of symbolic interactionism, the communication in virtual environments emphasizes the original meaning of the word “symbol,” as people create their online representations of their ideas of themselves.
Bottino, S. M. B., Bottino, C., Regina, C. G., Correia, A. V. L., & Ribeiro, W. S. (2015). Cyberbullying and adolescent mental health: Systematic review. Cadernos de Saude Publica, 31(3), 463-475.
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Davis, S., Nesbitt, K., & Nalivaiko, E. (2015). Comparing the onset of cybersickness using the Oculus Rift and two virtual roller coasters. In Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment (IE 2015) (pp. 3-14).
HBODocs. (2011). When Strangers Click: Five Stories From The Internet Trailer (HBO). Web.