Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Digital Connection

Dear Sherry Turkle,

            After reading your introduction to Alone Together, I just wanted to say that I can really see where you are coming from and that I do agree with you that technology is not substituting for the real thing. I know plenty of people who rather than speaking to each other on the phone or in person, would much rather text each other on their cell phones. You make a great point in saying that digital connections offer this illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. It’s completely true, this allows for people to physically hide from people and escape to a place where they now have control over the context of what they say and what they do.

            Using technology at all times has become a socially accepted thing. I have seen plenty of friends hanging out with each other and their noses are buried in their cell phones, the entire time. People substitute real relationships in the virtual world, like friendships and more intimate ones. It’s become very popular to meet someone online, talk to them all the time via email and texting; some people can go years before ever meeting in person. And when they do eventually meet, there have been times where it didn’t work out because they preferred the person they met online. You talk about the beautiful girl Anna who would turn her boyfriend in for a sophisticated robot if it would produce caring behavior. I think that this is a scary step that people can feel so lonely they are turning to technology and think of that as better comfort than a real human being.


Ana Luisa Suarez

Digital Technologies in Communication

When it comes to the thoughts of Nancy Baym,

I think that her theories are pointed in the right direction. She has seen first hand the way in which the digital age has transformed society. She quotes a lot of respectable people in both chapter one and two. One of which that stuck was in the very beginning of chapter one. She states, "We may be physically present in one space, yet mentally and emotionally engaged elsewhere" (p. 2). This quote is completely relatable especially for the generation in which me and my fellow peers live in. I think that the internet has taken over most of our lives and it is seen in every day interaction. There are plenty of examples, such as me going in starbucks to get a coffee, while looking at my phone, answering a text message and switching over to Facebook to finish a chat that I had started at home. I used to fight with my boyfriend because neither one of us could watch even a movie together without having to grab our phone or check our Facebook. The internet is literally morphing us into tech savvy people (which yes I think is a good thing, but as with anything in life there is also a draw back).
Baym does a really good job of looking at all aspects of our digital age and technologies. She realizes that there are both positives and negatives to what has happened in the past, present and what will even happen in the future. She talks about how there is both synchronous communication and asynchronous communication. Synchronous being face-to-face communication and asynchronous being multiple forms of anything but face-to-face. But whats important to note is that asynchronous communication is spreading like wildfire in this day and age and people are becoming less and less used to physical interaction. This may be bad for face-to-face communication but it also promotes more tasks to be done (such as jobs) and ways for people to constantly stay connected.
Baym also looks at the factors of what kind of people use new media. She finds that three main things matter when it comes to this. First education, she explains how a majority of the population are illiterate, something that would immediately stop an internet user, due to everything being visual. Next she talks about location and how more than half of the world doesn't even use internet, let alone know how to. And finally she talks about sex, and how males are more dominant when it comes to the use of the internet (p. 10).

Dear Nancy Baym,

I couldn't agree more with the statement you referenced in Chapter 1 by Kenneth Gergen that "describes us as struggling with the 'challenge of absent presence,' worrying that too often we inhabit a 'floating world' in which we engage primarily with non-present partners despite the presence of flesh-and-blood people in our physical location" (3). Basically, because of the technologically dependent society we live in, there is a fear that even the physical presence of a person may only be physical but not mental. The best example of this is the AT&T commercial I posted below. I find it completely hilarious, but in a lot of ways this is a scenario that has happened in reality on many occasions. All these advancements are making it easier for people to immerse themselves into different places, and also making it difficult for one person to keep the other's attention. With a culture that is constantly multitasking, I think we've become even more ADD than before.
Another point that you made, that I found very interesting was in chapter 2 about technological determinism. The definition presented for this term is the idea that "technology is conceptualized as an external agent that acts upon and changes society"(25). From my interpretation, this term is saying that technology is a significant factor that shapes culture. I agree with your analysis of this statement. In some ways this is very true, but it should be taken lightly. The example you mentioned with the concern that communication technology makes us dumber is very valid. People tend to forget that language is always changing and it may not be that it is making us less intelligent or that it is the driving force at all. It could be evolving, as it has done for years historically, into a new form with communication technology as a factor rather than a sole driving force of its change.

Loving a Machine

Dear Ms. Turkle,
I found your piece both interesting and disturbing at the same time. To say the least, I agree with your opinions. Today’s society has become too engulfed in technology. As you look around you everyone has their cell phone glued to either their hands or ears or their headphones in to block out the world around them. You mention how Randy holds his Blackberry in his hand anxiously through his entire conversation with you. You also mentioned earlier in your piece how Ronnie’s roommate preferred to text her rather than go knock on her door which was no more than a mere 15 feet away. Not only is technology starting to take over, it is also diminishing face-to-face conversation and people’s manners. When individuals are having a face-to-face conversation with another human being they are usually more engaged with cell phones. As you said, people are genuinely terrified of being cut off from the ‘grid’. Instead of having an actual conversation they would much rather be conversing through technology. Not only is this reducing face to face conversation, it is also extremely rude. However, I am guilty of doing the same. I have been scowled at by my parents numerous times at the dinner table for being on my iPhone instead of conversing with them. 
What disturbed me about your piece was the part about “Love and Sex with Robots”. It is completely ridiculous that anyone would ever think that having a robot as a companion/partner could work, let alone be better than a relationship with an actual human being. And it was also completely ridiculous that he accused you of being against same sex marriage because you did not agree with humans marrying robots. Those are two COMPLETELY different things! Robots are not human beings. They do not show love or compassion nor do they feel it. Why would any prefer to be touched by a cold robotic hand than the warm sensation of real skin? I personally feel the author of that book is insane, and has become too obsessed with technology and forgot how to have their own real feelings so they need to rely on a machine to make them feel better. The day I think it is okay to be in a relationship with a robot will be the day pigs fly!
Yours Truly, 
Taylor Palehonki

Everyone Alone Together

Dear Sherry Turkle,

In your introduction to Alone Together you ask the question “Does virtual intimacy degrade our experience of the other kind and, indeed of all encounters of any kind?” This was very interesting along with many of the other aspects you touched on.  I agree with you when you talked about how technology acts as a substitute for face-to-face interaction.  Clearly today people of all ages now use smartphones and computers more than ever for many of our daily tasks.  It’s also true that many people choose to text and send email as opposed calling or meeting in person.  A lot of people in today’s society figure we have the technology to do these things so why go through the trouble of communicating in “real time.”
            I disagree with you however when you describe how people can feel when technology doesn’t satisfy every need and has you feeling “isolated.”  The only people that can feel this way are the ones who have let this technology take over their lives.  Most people who utilize technology in this way do it because it helps make their lives easier.  People have things to do along with daily tasks, which are accomplished with help of technology like email.  Those who find themselves feeling alone have chose to use technology to their disadvantage.  Just because I have 900 friends on Facebook doesn’t mean I have that many in real life and I realize this fact.  I know who my actual friends are because I see them in person.  Certain individuals who spend their lives on Myspace or in a virtual community all day tend not to go out into the real world very often.  They become fixated on their virtual lives, which at that point can only lead to negative feelings.    


Monday, January 30, 2012

Human Robot Love?

Dear Sherry Turkle,
Upon reading your interviews and your perspective on the effects of technology on human lives, I cannot agree more. I actually feel like your writing is almost reflecting my own thoughts, my own experiences with technology and people who are addicted to them. Being surrounded by friends who would rather text than call, friends that would leave responses on messengers, friends who would be so fixated in their own world on the web that they neglect any sorts of human contacts, I can relate to your experience.
Technology is a very persuasive topic, it is also one of the world's fastest evolving enterprise. Not only has technology evolve into an addictive fix in front of a screen, it is now slowly taking a physical form in the real world. The part that most intrigued me in your reading was the section on robots, where as time passes, people can ultimately replace real human to human interaction with robotic companions. The book, Love and Sex with Robots has an interesting plot. It is really determined to announce the idea that robots will actually be a better intimate companion than a human will.
The biggest problem people nowadays faces is the feeling of loneliness, but they fear even more to display any emotions toward another human being. Technology has filled in the loneliness people feel when they are alone, it allows them to become attach to something without having to experience any real emotional feelings. In the end, I cannot agree with you more when you mentioned that we can "recreate ourselves as online personae and give ourselves new bodies, homes, jobs, and romances. Yet, suddenly, in the half-light of virtual community, we may feel utterly alone" (Turkle 12). Technology will always be associated with the feeling of loneliness. No matter how evolved they can become in the future, it will never surpass any real human contacts.


The Effects of Technology

Dear Ms. Turkle,
I agree with your article Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other that humans nowadays rely too much on technology.  We have become dependent on (and almost obsessed with) technology so much that it has replaced meeting people in person.  Texting has replaced real conversations and we are now able to do several things at once and put people on hold.  Although technology allows us to multi-task, it also takes up a lot of our time as people are glued to their phones.  Technology has also contributed to our laziness- people would now rather text someone who is within walking distance than just find them and talk to them in person.  It has connected people in so many ways but has also created boundaries between people as well.  

A part of the article that stood out to me is when you told the story of the thirteen year old who hates the phone and voice mail, and prefers texting over it all.  My favorite quote is when you said, “She is a modern Goldilocks: for her, texting puts people not too close, not too far, but at just the right distance.”  I certainly agree with this quote because I enjoy texting and being able to control my own pace and response time, and see talking on the phone as a disadvantage.  I think a lot of teens would agree with this statement as well because talking on the phone requires a lot of effort and time, whereas texting has become a convenience- you answer when you are ready and able.   

Texting is the ultimate way to keep people around, but keep them at an arms’ length in a distance you are comfortable with.  Facebook and Twitter is a perfect example of how we gather people and place them under our wings, but choose who we personally want to interact with.  Technology has turned our lives into a numbers game, and the more people we collect, the better we feel about ourselves.  This makes me think back to the olden days before texting, tweeting, and Facebooking were invented, and how real relationships were made.  Sadly, I don’t think things will ever be that simple again, and as time goes on, it will become further complicated.        

Connie Zhen

Convenience and Connection

Dear Ms. Baym, 

I agree with you that our communication has become “increasingly shallow” but has also allowed for more opportunities of connections with people and stronger connections with others.  Digital Media is indeed changing the nature of our social connections (Baym 1).  The way people communicate has changed drastically within the past couple of generations, let alone in my lifetime.  People communicate via text message, email, video conferencing and social medias like Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook allows us to keep in touch with “friends” on a regular basis.  Facebook keeps us connected to those “friends.  I put quotes around the word friends because if it wasn’t for Facebook would be really keep in touch or care what half of our so called “friends were doing?  Facebook and other social media has allowed us to stay connected to people that we may not have normally stayed in contact with.  So, is that a good thing or a bad thing?  That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. 

I agree with the information you include from Kenneth Gergen that says, “ [We are] struggling with the ‘challenge of absent presence’, worrying that too often we inhabit a ‘floating world’ in which we engage primarily with non-present partners despite the presence of flesh-and-blood people in our physical location” (Baym 3).  Nowadays people are always “connected”, meaning that they can be reached at all times.  In more cases than not, you see people engaging in conversations via mobile media in public places rather than engaging in conversations with the people around them.  People are always connected to the people that they know and the things they are familiar with, but hesitate to be “friendly” and strike up conversations with people out side of their connections or in some cases, comfort zone.  Even when people are with other that they are “friends” with or “close” to, they still find the need to be connected to other that are not physically present.  I think that this (meaning being constantly connected) devalues the personal time that people spend together in the “physical” world.  

Temporal structure is something that stands out to me.  Temporal structure allows for convenience.  People have the option to communicate at their convenience with the broad forms of mediated communication.  Depending on the urgency or importance of the information that is being shared, people may decide to use different forms of communication in order to receive the response in the time desired.  For example:  My dad is the worst text-er.  I can send him text after text after text and they will go un answered for days.  I know that if I want to get in touch with my dad (especially if he is at work) I have to email him.  When I email my dad I can get an almost immediate response.  I also have the ability to email on my phone (which most of us have these days) so instead of texting my dad back and forth on my phone, I can email him, which can have almost the same response time using media that is convenient for both of us.    

Convenience and Connection. Those are the things that have become crucial in our world today.  People like to be able to things at their convenience while always being connected to the world around them.  

New types of friends?

Dear Ms. Turkle,

I found your piece, “Alone Together” to be particularly interesting, and quite an engaging read. Being that we’re immersed in a society that’s so heavily reliant on technology, in just about every aspect of daily happenings, we as members of society can relate to your examples. You wrote that your book talks about “how we are changed as technology offers us substitutes for connecting with each other face-to-face,” and I can say that this is a statement I certainly agree with.

I personally feel that technology is hindering both intelligence and relationships. It used to be much simpler for one person to express to another their feelings over the phone or in person. Now with a text message or instant message online, they can just be brief and not express everything that they meant to say, or worse, what they meant to say could be misinterpreted as their message is lacking in fundamentals components of communication, like body language and tone. People also tend to use smaller or abbreviated words while texting, making them forget and not make use of stronger vocabulary. You write that online connections were established for times when face-to-face connections were impractical, but now the new mediums have instead become the norm.

You mention the man who won’t let his Blackberry out of his hand, and when he does, puts it in his pocket so it can be reached for right after, and the girl who will text her roommate who’s just in the next room. Just look at the word ‘Droid,’ it literally means “Robot.” It may seem like these people are hooked on their technologies; but essentially, it’s what we’ve become accustomed to.

You say that “relationships with robots are ramping up and relationships with people are ramping down,” which I’ve noticed has increasingly become a trend. As you point out, some may argue that robots are not as demanding as humans and can be there to comfort without being judgmental. It’s a shame that humans have come to rely on getting physical and emotional pleasure from these artificial technologies, rather than put in the effort to form relationships with real people who can reciprocate feelings, which can be a much deeper, meaningful, and real connection.

An extension of laziness ?

Dear Ms. Turkle,

The chapter Alone Together in your book was a very interesting read. You brought up many points about the future with technology that I have never considered possible. The extent to which robots are becoming part of our day to day interactions surprises me. I never imagined the debate of one marrying a robot or becoming romantically involved being a topic of discussion. Levy argues “that robots will teach us to be better friends and lovers because we will be able to practice on them” but isn’t this what our teenage years are for. Throughout our pre-adult lives, we learn the norms of friendship and relationships. We practice with other children and learn and grow from our mistakes. Many times the people you go to high school with, with the exception of a few close friends, mean nothing a few years after you graduate. When robots do not judge and respond negatively, are we necessarily going to learn anything from them?

The example to Miriam and her therapeutic robot Paro was quite interesting to me. I never knew the extent to which actual robots are being used. The robot was pretty much a talking animal. It possessed all of the qualities that a “mans best friend” had but in an easier way. You do not have to clean up after the robot, feed it or give it constant love if you do not desire to. Do we expect to much from our real life companions? Are we becoming to lazy to take the time to develop a relationship with a real animal or people? You stated that Miriam experienced intimacy with her robot but she was in fact alone. I believe this is very true for a number of reasons. The robots can serve as a companion and be programmed to simulate love but this is not real life love. I believe we are becoming to lazy to sustain and build relationships. Real life people/relationships can be exhausting and judgmental. Robots seem to be a simple solution to human’s laziness or social inabilities. This is reiterated with the creation of avatars on second life. Ones avatar can be younger, prettier, thinner, possess better clothes than the actual person.

I believe part of the use of robots is also due to the push of corporations to use robots whenever possible. For example I currently am a Bank of America account holder and avoid a monthly fee but only using the ATM machine to deposited checks/money and withdraw cash. Nursing homes like the one Miriam is in uses these animal robots to supplement the companionship nurses may have once provided. Is this shift to robots purely an extension of human laziness or something else?

Robots have also become apart of our daily lives in other ways. I never though of my smart phone as a robot but after reading this chapter, I definitely see that it is one. Being constantly connected to the world is a norm now. I know I feel disconnected, as the other people you interviewed, when I am without my cell phone. Social media also provides this sense of connectedness. Using facebook, I can look at friends and family members profile that I do not necessarily interact with on a month-to-month basis. One thing that I did not really take into account is that people design these profiles with the intent that others will be judging them accordingly. People are not going to publically display everything that is going on in their lives on facebook, so looking at profiles may not be a efficient mean to ensuring people are doing well.


Survival of the Fittest

Dear Ms. Turkle,

After reading your piece, “Alone Together”, I have to say that I agree with the majority of points you raised.  Also, I couldn’t help but notice the parallel in the story of Darwin and where we are today.  Darwin told us that the species here today are only here because of natural selection and evolution, which includes adaption to the often-changing environment. 

Humans are included in these species.  One reason we’ve been able to establish dominance on earth, is our ability to adapt and use tools, and what is technology if not a tool?  Humans have to adapt to the rapid growth and use of technology if they want to “survive” in today’s world.  Here, survival doesn’t actually mean being able to feed oneself, but it is more being relevant.  In just about every workplace, technology has recently revolutionized normal practices.  Some fields have completely changed because of this.  If you have any hope of advancing in your profession, you must be skilled in the necessary technological practices.

As far as the robots go, I think it’s just the next step in our evolution.  It’s really just a tool at our disposal.  The fact is we have been using “robotic” technology for quite some time now for things such as medical procedures and production of all kinds of goods.  I don’t think anyone with half a brain actually envisions a world in which Will Smith will have to save us from robots that have bested us mentally and physically.  The same goes for romantic relations with said robots.  Sure, there will probably be a show on TLC about it because America is fascinated with strange few (i.e. Hoarders, My Strange Addiction, etc), but I doubt it will ever gain enough momentum as to divide people as much as same-sex marriage.  Then again, I guess you never can really know…

Kindest Regards,
Joe Guagenti

will a new, more human like technology, take control of our lives?

Dear Sherry Turkle, 

Alone Together” was facinating and scary. You mention that "we are changed as technology offers us substitutes for connecting with each other .... We are offered...a world of machine-mediated relationships on networked devices." I have gone from not wanting a facebook to checking it every day various times a day, this is greatly due to the fact that I now own an Iphone. 

On Facebook, I find it much easier to make light conversation with people I know but would not constantly want to see . As you say," things that happen in 'real time' take too much time", it's not only impossible to keep up with my 400 so called facebook friends nor do I want to put in the effort. 

As a facebook user, I do agree that users take the time to create personae. I dislike the idea of creating an avatar and living a second life through it, but I never realized that I was doing it on facebook. Like you say we ¨give our selves new bodies, homes, jobs....¨I take the time to look for flattering profile pictures and carefully edit my about me. It makes it easy to make yourself look better online because, according to Nancy Bayam, of the lack of social cues that we experience face-to-face.

I believe that if we are able to freely create version of our selves, then we, not media and technology, are to blame for our problems: online affairs, shorter attentions span, etc. I believe that Social Construction of technology is more along the lines of what we do. People have the power, “human beings, not machines are the agents of change...” We can choose to live these technology and media filled lives or opt out.

This brings me to the point that I found scary, robots. Although I cannot imagine a life without technology so much so that I have become accustomed to, as Baym says, “engaging primarily with non-present partners despite the presence of flesh and blood people in our physical location,” I find it scary that a life where robots become our companions and the caretakers or our children and our parents horrible.

People who want this are living a life of technological determinism where they, as Baym says, “ are confused about what is virtual- that which seems real but is ultimately a mere simulation- and what is real.” They are allowing machines to change them and their worlds completely and so will loose control of their lives to these robots.

As much as I depend technology, I feel that I still hold a balance, social shaping of technology. I strongly believe that the presence of a human being could never be replaced by a machine that does not understand but only imitate emotions. People still make an important part of my life and are irreplaceable, machines are only to aide us, not replace people.

Technology, for best or for worst

Dear Ms. Sherry Turkle,

I find that your analyzation of people to be correct to a point. I myself would rather text someone than call him/her. I agree that humans are lonely but fearful of intimacy (or rejection). I agree that sociable robots give the illusion of companionship, but I disagree in that digital connections are the same. You can make friends via digital means and they provide companionship, but they also come with the same demands of a friendship that come from a friendship you made normally in real life. In the case of Ellen and her grandmother, I don’t feel that all people are like that. If she gave the skype calls her full attention instead of using it to also do another task on the side, I don’t think she would feel guilty and it would be as good as if the person was really there. I think that if you heard the story from her grandmother’s side, the grandmother would be thrilled and say that it was just as good.

I thought it was funny that your daughter would suggest that they replace the Galapagos tortoises with robots. I agree with how you pointed out that aesthetic inconvenience that the living tortoise had and people’s opinions toward them. Most animals to satisfy people it seems, would have to be more active and fit into what people believe how they should act.

Thanks for writing your article and thanks for taking the time to read this letter.

Yours Truly,

Brittany Chan

Sometimes Genius Leads to Laziness

Dear Nancy Baym,

After reading the first two chapters of your book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, it didn’t take long for you to get me intrigued or even just get my mind thinking about things differently. The funny thing is that it only took until the third page for this to happen. You mentioned a few questions that the disruptions digital media cause.

The question was “How we can be present yet also absent?” Yes, the question itself is so simple but yet sparked a lot of thought into my head. It made me think what the original purposes of technology innovation were. I’m sure that some of the reasons were to be more productive, efficient, or simply the need of change. The ladder seems to be one the most talked about reasons for technology innovation. But after reading that question, the first thing that came to my mind was the fact that we have this weird desire to not want to do things.

So what we do is invent things that give us the ability to be lazy. For an example, the remote control. By far has to be the laziest invention ever. I mean just think about it, we just were people that were tired of getting up and turning the channel. Another would be the car. We as people got tired of walking from place to place. Inventions like these just increasingly got us to be more and more lazy. So how is technology that allows us to be present yet absent any different?

GUESS WHAT PEOPLE ITS NOT!!! We once again we as people got lazy. We just got tired of having meetings with one another and going to see people. So we developed ways to be able to talk to each other but from a far. Then we got tired of literally talking to one another. Yea people you know that thing that you do with your mouth that you don’t do too much of anymore. Yea you got tired of that. So we invented things so we didn’t have to talk anymore. See the trend here and they wonder why obesity has gone up in this country especially.

THIS ONE IS FOR THE RECORD. I do understand that the advancement of technology over the last 20 years has done some great things for our society and enables us to do things we have never thought we could do and I am really for all the work we do to transform the world but we have to stop being lazy and taking these things as an excuse to be lazy.

Ms. Baym I want to thank you for showing my mind the door to all of these thoughts because it literally has never been opened before. As for the rest of chapter one and two, I enjoyed what you had to say and I am intrigued to see what you have left to say. I’m really looking forward to it.
                                                                                                            Amir Zaffa

Change is good!

Image borrowed from cartoonstock.com

 Dear Ms. Turkel
Where your book, “Alone Together” makes arguments that are not fully explored, Baym’s book “Personal Connections in the Digital Age” investigates various outcomes of the effects of new technology on society. You insist that we are alone in our online persona's. I think there is more to explore about how recent technology has influenced humankind then just to assume that this substitution of human interaction is all negative. In your book you give an example of how knocking on a door is seen by some as “intrusive” and texting is a better way of letting someone know of your presence. While this may be a legitimate story, in my opinion it is not an accurate reflection of how the majority of people feel about technology. Although new media has undoubtedly changed human relationships, there are benefits to globalization that are discussed in Baym’s book. For example, keeping in touch has become easier. Marketing one’s self is more possible. However, I definitely agree that self-identity has been affected. As Baym says in her book, “We may physically be present in one space, yet mentally and emotionally engaged elsewhere.” Both your book and Baym’s question whether there is such a thing as the “true” self anymore. I would argue that historically every society questions the “self” and that question is just a part of life. For example, in the romantic era people searched for their true one identity. Technology has allowed us to create numerous identities and to alter our social cues to become as desirable as possible. Who is to say that there exists one true way to present one’s self. Technology gives people the option to explore how they can transform. Change over time matches our need for alterations, we are adapting to the luxuries of new technology, because we are becoming more productive as a species. Instead of becoming scared of the ways that everything is changing, society needs to explore and embrace the potentials of new media. In Baym’s book the idea that adults fear children because of they are technologically inclined is mentioned. This causes a disconnect between the two generations and it has also led to lack of regulation of children, which has led to inappropriate online behavior. Instead of fearing new media, Parents and all members of society, for that matter, need to explore the possibilities it offers. As Baym says, “We should always be wary of simple explanations.” New technologies are neither good nor bad, so instead of fearing their effects on our lives like your book instills, we need to explore the effects.
Sofia Pitt

desperate callings

Dear Ms. Turkle,

Your article "Alone Together" was sad because it revealed the truth of what is going on in society today. People are constantly on their cell phones or social networking sites to keep in touch and you rarely see people meeting others or getting to know each other in person. People typically text or call each other to get to know each other, and when their cell phones aren't ringing off the hook to notifications of text messages, they feel a sense of loneliness that no one cares about them.

It's funny how your introduction talks about Second Life and Zhu Zhu pets. I'm taking a class right now in college and we were required to make an avatar for Second Life. When we were asked to edit our appearance/image there were so many different options starting from head to toe. I was given the opportunity to make myself look absolutely flawless due to all the different face and body features that were able to be altered. I had no idea that a head shape had five different kinds of options to choose such as make the head more round or squished or making the head have a bump on the top or a bigger chin. The list can go on and I found it funny how you said that people make themselves look younger, skinnier, and prettier. No one is perfect and Second Life gives everyone a chance to make themselves look perfect.