Second Life is Experiencing Society’s Woes! Surprise!

I was reading an article, “Real-World Issues Plague Second Life” in the Jan 07 Omma. The thrust of the article was this: Now that real-world money can be made in Second Life, real-world theft is occuring in that virtual world.

This surprises them?

I know several sociologists and anthropologists who are following the Second Life saga and have been for several internet years now. The fact that virtual theft is occuring for real world gains should only surprise people in that it took so long to manifest. Real-world people have been spending real-world money in the virtual world for quite some time. Gamers and online game designers know this quite well.

Any time a society forms and that society creates an exchange system (an economy) there will be individuals who seek ways to exploit that exchange system in ways we accept and ways we don’t. When I write “we” I mean “the majority”. The funny thing is, theft, whether virtual or real, can’t exist unless “we” accept it in some way, shape or form. No act, either for or against the common good, can exist unless the majority allows it to exist.

But here’s the rub, I think. Virtual crimes will grow as long as real world gains can be had by them. When the real world gains become great enough and easy enough to acquire, virtual crimes will spill over directly into the real world because a real world criminal subculture — a support network — will arise to facilitate virtual world criminality. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

As a final note, did you notice that I never used “reality” in this post? The lines are blurring, don’t you think?

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Second Life? I don’t find you interesting in Real Life

I was at a dinner meeting a few nights back. I don’t often go to such things because, as one person said, “Doesn’t he know this is a business networking event?”

People ask what you do. I respond, “I bore people.” That gets the polite chuckle usually followed by “No, really, what do you do?” (I’ll throw the question out to readers of this blog; what do I do? Email me or post a comment. I’m dying to know what I do)

I listed my days’ activities a while back. Sometimes I recount them. Sometimes I’ll talk about projects I’m working on or research we’re doing. Eyes glaze over, people begin nervously looking for ways to escape the sphere of my monologue.

I ask people to tell me about themselves and most respond with their job title, function, company (“Doesn’t he know this is a business networking event?”). I’ll listen then ask, “You’ve shared what, and that’s nice. Now tell me about who.” This seems an incredibly difficult task for most people. I’ve studied enough to know why, I’m just still surprised that it is so difficult. Someone decided to turn the tables and asked me to tell them about myself.

Not a problem. I started with music, went into reading, cooking, favorite movies, my writing (not this blog, my columns, academic and technical papers, etc., but my fiction, poetry, children’s stories, … you know, the interesting stuff). My family was mentioned in just about every topic. I think my facility responding made my inquisitor even more uncomfortable.

It was at this point that someone else entered the conversation and the subject quickly switched to Second Life.

Evidently Second Life is a place where — in addition to everything else — people can go and have…umm…affairs.

The mind convulses with the possibilities, doesn’t it? Holy Porn Sites, Batman!

Not only can people have affairs (romances, engagements, entanglements, passionate interludes, …), they can gossip about who’s with whom.

Which was a lot of what my inquisitor did on Second Life. Gossip. I have no idea if she engaged in affairs. Didn’t ask.

She did turn to me at one point and ask if I was on Second Life. She gave me information on her avatar (oh, excuse me, her “sim”). I thanked her.

But I was thinking, “Second Life? I don’t find you interesting in real life. I’m going to waste my time online with you?”

Information overload. There’s some information out there that can be easily offloaded, don’t you think?

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