The good news, however, is that you don’t need to go to such lengths to start over. You can create a whole new you right from the comfort of your home through computer programs like Second Life. I had heard and read about the program before; but as someone who spends only a requisite amount of time in front of the computer (Email? Check. Read the news? Check. Write a paper? Check.), I’d never been compelled to actually enter Second Life. However, this week’s readings (and our pending lab) got me interested. The level of complexity to this so-called game is really quite fascinating. You can create an avatar to look and dress any way you like, buy and sell property, start a business, or make and spend money. You can even be Michael Jackson and re-create the famous Thriller video. The possibilities, it seems, are endless. However, what’s even more interesting about the program is what it says about human nature.
In real life, you often hear people griping about social inequalities, income disparities, and the like. But apparently, we carry the same baggage into our virtual worlds:
“When people are given the opportunity to create a fantasy world, they can and do defy the laws of gravity (you can fly in Second Life), but not of economics or human nature. Players in this digital, global game don’t have to work, but many do. They don’t need to change clothes, fix their hair, or buy and furnish a home, but many do."
It’s incredible to think that given the option to look like anyone, or anything for that matter, most choose to conform and look “normal.” So essentially, it seems we don’t want to create some magical fantasy land where everyone frolics with wild virtual abandon. Instead, we choose to create the second life we wish we’d had in real life, and in this life, everyone is beautiful, fit, and rich. However, it’s nice to know that the Dwight Schrutes out there are so thrilled with their real life that they choose to live the same one in Second Life (without giving a thought to the irony of selling paper in a virtual world). Though it does raise the question – given our increasing dependence on technology and a declining preference for human interaction, could we see the day when most opt to check out of real life and live exclusively through their virtual alter egos?