Who Do I Want to Be Today?

Identity on the Internet

Sociology 103: Logic & Methods of Social Inquiry
Professor Candace West
Celine-Marie Pascale, Teaching Assistant
Copyright © 1999 B. Collie Collier
On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

(cartoon credit: New Yorker, 5 July 1993, p. 61)

This paper is dedicated to the following individuals, as it most assurely could not have been written without them: Aerten, Alois, Amina, Dair, Kingfisher, Kirill, Kitsu, Loki, Maki, Points, Rokhan, and Silk. I cannot thank you all enough for your interest, your willingness to answer multiple, increasingly panicky questions, and your calm encouragement in the face of my growing insecurities as the paper deadline approached. :-)

On all the MU*s I have participated in it is the subcultural paradigm to use a specific 'sub-dialect' or 'idiom' that reinforces the communal nature of gaming, identifies the participants to each other, and encourages the participants' sense of belonging to this subculture. A severely abbreviated list of some of these terms can be found in the methodology section of this paper, under term definitions and operationalizations. I shall attempt usage of this subcultural dialect throughout my paper, both for ease of use and because I feel that the participants should be able to define their own language parameters. I do not wish to see in my portrayal of the participants on MU*s merely "...a projection of [my] personal fears, anxieties, and fantasies ... about a group presumed incapable of responding to their representation [Bruckman 1992, p. 17, quoting Jenkins]."

The Paper

Literary Review
Appendix A
Appendix B

Last edited: Tue, 2002-Mar-28