For Your Entertainment (FYE)
“Former United States Secretary of StateColin Powell once said, “We’re selling a product. That product we are selling is democracy.” Although the United States is not a corporation, it still has organizational components and has a certain image and identity. The US is founded on certain principles, values, and beliefs, and at the same time, has a diverse and widely recognizable popular culture. Because of distinct founding principles, and the way US culture operates, the US too can be observed as a “brand.”
Images and identity do not always have to be planned and built by an organization, they also can be attributed to an organization by others’ interpretations. During the Cold War, Coca-Cola, Marilyn Monroe, and Baywatch were booming in popularity and became obsessions of popular American culture. These images portrayed confidence and superiority in American media, therefore the USA seemed more secure and superior during the war. With the growth of the media, popular culture and celebrities still seem to define America in certain ways. Images of Brad Pitt and Mickey Mouse are easily associated to the US. The US has evolved into a nation with industries focused solely on celebrity gossip, TV shows, music, and blockbuster hits, making the US a highly-mediated nation with a strong focus on celebrity.
In addition to the “celebrity” identity factor, there have been more strategic and patriotic images used to re-brand the country as well. After the September 11 attacks, Bush administration initiated the re-brand of the United States from “global bully” to a “compassionate hegemon.”[ The vast majority of American citizens contributed to the act of patriotism by placing American flag bumper stickers on their cars, purple ribbons on trees in their yards, or hanging flags in their windows, all to recreate the feeling and image of nationwide pride and support.”
“There has been an increase in interest in the potential social impact of new technologies, such as virtual reality. In the new book (2011) Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution, Blascovich and Bailenson review the literature on the psychology and sociology behind life in virtual reality.
In addition, Mychilo S. Cline, in his book Power, Madness, and Immortality: The Future of Virtual Reality, argues that virtual reality will lead to a number of important changes in human life and activity. He argues that:
- Virtual reality will be integrated into daily life and activity, and will be used in various human ways.
- Techniques will be developed to influence human behavior, interpersonal communication, and cognition.
- As we spend more and more time in virtual space, there will be a gradual “migration to virtual space”, resulting in important changes in economics, worldview, and culture.
- The design of virtual environments may be used to extend basic human rights into virtual space, to promote human freedom and well-being, and to promote social stability as we move from one stage in socio-political development to the next.
- Virtual reality can also be used to induce body transfer illusions.”
“According to K Zero, a virtual world consultancy service, there are over 1 billion (1,009,000,000) people worldwide registered in virtual worlds today.
Rita J. King, CEO of Dancing Ink Productions, a strategic creative content development and research company, believes virtual worlds will augment what she calls “the Digital Culture.”
“I envision virtual worlds evolving for business and cultural development as the medium becomes more ubiquitous.”
“Chatting in a two-dimensional platform can be fun, informative and valuable,” argued King. “But co-creating and inhabiting a three-dimensional space that can then be collaborated upon cannot be matched. This allows people to ‘be together’ despite geographical location, age, gender, ethnic or sociopolitical affiliation.”
“But interactions will only be as developed as the imaginations and motivations of the people involved.”
Ideally, King believes we will move to a position where people can augment their physical lives with virtual realities. This may ultimately affect our perceptions of physical ‘wants’.
“Things change and develop so fast,” Nergiz Kern, an English language educator inside Second Life, told IOL. “But I think virtual worlds will become as normal as the internet is now. Most people who are online will have an avatar and use VW [virtual worlds] for all kinds of activities from meeting and chatting with friends to learning and doing business.””