Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 The Gendered Mystique, by Leslie Regan Shade

Turkle: Addressing the Real through the Virtual

There is the fear in many of the case studies that Turkle recounts, that MUDs and MOOs are increasingly seen as a replacement for RL (real life) and engaged political and community organizing and sustenance by the many young college-aged population that inhabits these domains. In a recent interview, Session with the Cybershrink in Technology Review (February/March 1996), Turkle expressed concerns over this RL apathy, and wrote that

"It would be exciting to see online communities used more to address real-world social crises such as those around the environment, health, drugs, and education. This is starting to happen; I would like to see more of it. Online activists are learning a great deal as they build virtual worlds -it's like thousands of social experiments being conducted simultaneously, all over the world. I would like to see some of the knowledge gained from these efforts used to improve our off-line communities."
For many of Turkle's young subjects, the rainbow is cyberspace, and this is where they can reassert their middle class origins and communicate with a like-minded community which their RL (for reasons dealing with the present jobless rate, slow economic growth, and highly competitive ladder- climbing amidst an increasingly down-sized, restructured, reengineered and deficit-busting economy) doesn't easily accommodate. Instead, our new 'knowledge society' era, where the rhetoric of 'life long learning' has become almost the mantra of the decentralized and competitive telecommunications market, calls for fluidity in interpersonal interactions, and the ability to easily adapt and mutate jobs, geographical location, and goals. This lifestyle is mirrored in virtual systems, and the challenge is in making the boundaries between RL and virtual life permeable, so as to allow the good qualities of virtuality to infect RL.--


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