Monday, September 22, 2008

what's wrong with second life? [rant]

Second Life (henceforth referred to as 2Life) is the cyberspace version of the hole in the ground on Highbury Rd. that used to be a quarry and now is trying to become (for about the third time) a middle-class housing estate. I have never been into either 2Life or the old quarry. In each case I can see an entrepreneur investing heavily in the idea and then trying to con others into believing that they should pay good money for it. You can buy real-estate in the giant hole in the ground, or in the giant hole in cyberspace. Both would be a complete waste of resources.

However undesirable living in a baking, flooding hole in the ground is, with real-estate prices in Melbourne what they are, this offers a place to put a house in which people could actually try to live a normal life (albeit with high air-conditioning and heating bills given the micro-climate of the hole).

2Life is a place for people too inhibited to dress up (judging by the screen-grabs, in bat wings, expensive dresses and enormous boots etc.) in real life or too constrained by the dress code of their 9-5 office jobs to let loose with an international assortment of others who feel a similar repressed urge. What is the point in spending money on a pretty dress for an avatar!? Are these people stupid? What is so wrong with their own real lives that they feel compelled to invent new ones and play out their fantasies from a desk chair? I could well understand if people suffering through war or the pain of terminal illness might for a moment wish to step outside of the real and enter a make-believe world in which they can, just for a moment, be someone else and somewhere else. I can also understand somebody wanting to step outside a tiring real job and other commitments for a time. But to waste resources in buying a stupid dress for a character that doesn't exist. To buy "property" and spend money on virtual "architecture" is appalling. This is just virtual decoration for a glorified chat room where people lose focus on the content of the chat and instead pride themselves on their latest pixel pot plant arrangement.

Send the money to people who need it. Make a difference to people who need it. Buy them a real house. Plant a real tree in real dirt. Don't throw parties for avatars owned by other middle-class morons with more money than sense. Brighten up a person's life by sending them a food package. Buy them a bicycle so they can get around. Send them some relief clothing instead of buying another set of pixel lingerie. You make me so mad! Wake up. You are being stupid. It is not too late. Help make somebody's FIRST and ONLY life worth living. If you are not happy with your own life and can afford to waste money in 2Life, you can afford to do something useful for yourself in real life too. Turn off your computer and go outside.


  1. Wow, people doing something you haven't done yourself makes you mad?

    Surely you agree that people like to submit themselves to fantasy. It is no different to reading a book or watching a film, except the story is created and participated in by the audience.

    As for wasting resources ... I don't see how buying virtual clothing is different than purchasing a song from iTunes (for example). Oh, except Apple doesn't get a cut in the former.

    I don't play Second Life, but I appreciate why it is popular and important to the development of our global culture. And, oh, if you're reading this, you should be outside. :)


  2. Hi Ben, sorry for the delay... I was outside, away from my computer ;-) I'm not mad because people are doing something I haven't done myself. I also indicated in the post that I could understand if people wanted to escape for awhile into fantasy-land.

    I suppose what bugs me is that people are eager to bury their heads in the sand in virtual worlds for extensive periods of time. The real world is so astonishing and complex and rich, and so in need of attention. It bugs me that people would invest valuable resources and vast amounts of time in building a fictional world for themselves when they could actually be doing something for the only planet we live on.

    Pushing pixels around on the screen can be useless, or useful. It seems absurd that somebody would invest real hours, doing real work, to earn money, to give it away to somebody for a virtual pot plant or virtual lingerie (I'm not making those examples up - check the 2Life website screen shots etc.). Why not invest the money in a national park or in planting a real pot plant? Why not give your partner a thrill by dressing up and going out to eat a real meal?

    Buying fancy avatar clothes is as stupid to me as paying for a pretty desktop icon set and frittering away your days re-arranging them on the screen. These icons contribute nothing I value. In many cases they represent (or even explicitly adopt) aspects of the real world that I reckon we could do without e.g. consumerism, an over-empasis on the superficial and a lack of concern for the consequences of our actions.

    The people who shop in the real world as a "hobby" can now do this from the comfort of their desk chair. Why is this exciting? Now, not only can they shop from their desk chair, they can shop for non-existent goods, for non-existent characters. In and of itself this is just fantasy. But when they spend real dollars for all this make-believe I start to become cynical and annoyed.

  3. Here's a classic example of what is wrong with 2Life:

    *Meike TM* Hug & Kiss 2.0 Deluxe

    With this easy to use HUD you will be able to give that warm hello hug or kiss of your choice. The animator is loaded with 12 hugs and kisses for you to enjoy.

    The innovative height match system in this HUD will allow you to easily give a hug or kiss to that special someone. Shorter AV's will reach up to catch that kiss and taller AV's will bend to meet them.
    The system it will auto adjust the animations to match your heights by choosing between 5 versions of each of the 12 couple animations to fit you and the one being hugged or kissed. This is a unique new feature not found in any of the other Hug & Kiss Animators.
    If the 12 preloaded animations are not yet enough, you are able to add your own animations of your choice as well!

    This animator works without any need for poseballs, just face who you would like to invite to a couple animation, click the button and you'll be hugging and kissing anywhere in SL!


    * 12 height adjusting couple animations
    * Innovative heightmatch system that picks between 5 versions of each animation to make it fit as well as posible
    * Havok 4 compatible
    * Hug or kiss anywhere you like
    * Easy use through a HUD attachement
    * Automatic height detection to pick the right animations
    * Add any animations you like through the setup notecard
    * Hug or kiss as long as you like, these can last forever!
    * Easy HUD placement system
    * You can minimize the HUD when you're not using it so it wont clutter
    * Free updates available from my shop

    The HUD itself is fully modifiable, the whole is transfer, no copy.

    In what silly world do people need to pay to be able to give a hug and a kiss? ($800 Linden in this case). What good is a virtual hug or kiss anyway? Two icons on the screen flicker and somehow that counts as a kiss?

  4. Sure, I agree that it seems absurd to ignore the fantastic world around us. But I'm also sure that the majority of second lifer's do not ignore it. Imo, appreciation of the real world is enhanced through observation of, and interaction with, artificial objects as it gives a context and a point of comparison.

    More importantly, second life is just a platform for people to interact and share information, as is the WWW. You can't denounce the internet just because there is an abundance of web sites where people can waste their money on all kinds of junk, both real and virtual.

    Sure, the people who spend endless amounts of time in the virtual world to the detriment of the real world are strange and abhorrent creatures, but this applies to all matter of activities, not just virtual worlds: Spend more than 8 hours a day in front of a computer? Abhorrent! Spend more than 8 hours a day mining the Earth's minerals? Abhorrent! Waste your life painting pictures when you could be planting trees? Get out of here! Spend hours arguing with Alan? Nooooo.....!