Sandy Stone discusses many interesting points in "Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?" especially at the end of her article. Although humans are entering deeper into the virtual world, "it is important to remember that virtual community originates in, and must return to, the physical" (Stone 196). It is easy to forget reality when caught up in the actions of the virtual world. However, the use of virtual reality affects a person emotionally, not physically. Stone provides an example of a cyberpunk who cannot ignore the fact that he has AIDS by reconfiguring a virtual body. You can pretend not to have AIDS in the virtual world but that will not change the fact that you have it in reality. Some people try to escape the problems of the physical world through cyberspace because it provides an "absent structure of personalityâ€¦that Turkle characterizes as the 'second self'" (193). The computer allows one to hide behind a mask and essentially create a "second self." You can conceal your identity and reach an unknown audience. Virtual games enable you to create and "live" the life of a character.
Many teenagers are drawn to cyberspace because of the ability to recreate themselves. Online social networking sites such as MySpace give teens the opportunity to make a profile that potentially could be a pack of lies. New technology lets us put whatever information we wish to publicize about ourselves on the Internet. Consequently, virtual systems can destroy privacy. We conceal our true identity but reveal our virtual selves in cyberspace. We leave a trail of activity online. For instance, in electronic mail, "the address is part of the message" (190). People can track one another by using an e-mail address and open the message directly. There is no envelope to conceal the letter.
Privacy is always an issue when entering cyberspace. Security systems are needed to protect a person's privacy. However, people get by because "the boundaries between the subject, if not the body, and the 'rest of the world' are undergoing a radical refiguration, brought about in part through the mediation of technology" (188). With the aid of technology, we can reconfigure the body and self. This applies to plastic surgery. Bodies are defined by the surgery. Even those who invest in transgender surgeries reconfigure themselves by changing their sex. It is difficult to pinpoint one's identity when technology is involved. In "A Cyborg Manifesto," Donna Haraway defines a cyborg as "a creature in a post-gender world" (Haraway 517). Humans will use technology to the extent that we are part machine and part organism. Gender will not matter because of the blurred boundaries of the body. Cyberpunks can also pretend to be the opposite sex online; thus, the possibilities of reconfiguring a body are endless.
Haraway's argument reminds me of The Matrix. Trinity assumes an androgynous appearance. Gender does not matter because the characters live in a "post-gender world" in which they become machines that enter virtual reality to interact with one another. Unfortunately, living in the virtual community poses a danger to the characters, who risk the chance of dying within the matrix. In this case, death in the virtual world means death in the real world. It goes against Stone's point since the virtual and real worlds are closely intertwined. The film suggests that technology will become so advanced that humans will be subjected to its power and become cyborgs.