Everywhere you look these days you find references to Second Life, a local application-based online, alternate reality where you can develop a character (boy, girl, fat, skinny, tall, short, whatever) and interact with other fictional persons by hanging around a crudely rendered fantasy landscape. (Wikipedia page on Second Life)
I suppose my lack of understanding of this sort of online behaviour trend is perfectly demonstrated by how I created my character: I tried to make her look like me. I made her short, medium build, attempted my real hair and eye colour… What I should’ve done was give myself a mohawk, big boobs, wings, and KISS boots, but my literal mind was in control. I’m rubbish at this fantasy life stuff and I haven’t fired up Second Life since creating a character. My curiosity took me only a few minutes further before I became irretrievably bored by the environment itself and making my character fly.
Another trend I never got into was The Sims. It’s referred to as a “strategic life simulation computer game.” Isn’t real life strategic enough for most people? Do we need more ‘life’ to strategically navigate through? I suppose there’s an appealing God psychology involved with creating a character and willing it through a life and landscape, but couldn’t that energy be used in bettering the real life/real world rather than spending precious limited heartbeats on pixelated simulations?
Perhaps I’m paradoxically old-fashioned when I say that immersing oneself in an alternate reality is a waste of time. Some would say that of the internet itself, which is where I make most of my work these days. I could be considered a digital age heretic for suggesting the simpler pleasure of a book over wasting away hours on a non-existent existence in Second Life or any other number of reality simulations out there. But in my humble opinion, real life is much more worthy of improving over plugging into a meaningless one that only exists on a hard drive.
Escapism is fine, but the plausible psychological damage created by fabricating a ‘second’ life in any environment seems like such a grand waste of humanity and potentially detrimental to the processes needed to cope with real life situations. A more healthy endeavour than calculating fictional riches and digi-social behaviour surely is to better our real lives instead of looking to fabricated ones for escapism, success, relationships, and pseudo-improvement.
Second Life? No thanks. I’ve got plenty to do in the real world. 😉
(Don’t even get me started on why I think Reality TV is the next deadly plague leading up to the apocalypse!)