Sunday, 22 August 2010

Why does Second Life Suck so bad?

Me in my ugly body enjoying the bounty of a vacation in Northern India

Me in my perfect SL body trapped in the redundant hell that is Second Life.

Explorers throughout history have sought to travel to difficult places. There is not game or honour in travelling to the easy places, exploring the simple places. Great explorers have had to face difficult, ugly and sometimes dangerous challenges to try and expand the map of imagination of our world.

My explorations in to Second Life have their own perils. Not any real dangers, if anything Second Life is too safe for its own good. But I feel more and more I am exploring in to an ugly new reality that is emerging, the sad state of humanity post singularity reserved in a kind of nature preserve.

Second Life presents a really ugly image of how human reality might be distilled, secured and preserved in the age of machines. Even if the interactions become richer the core problems with this kind of virtual community will always make life in them banal. In Second Life people can put on identities and cultures likes trying on hats. The result being that no community means anything, that everyone is essentially a poser. Identity is empty, not even really a part of the person. No one is really anything in Second Life. There is not creation of an identity, rather the person just is purchased and worn, personality means as much as a t-shirt logo.

People can turn other on and off with a few flicks of a button. The result being that no relationship with others is stable, people vanish
without notice. Your relationships become like dealing with outsourced call centers. Some day you will IM someone you thought cared about you only to find yourself passed to India.

On the deepest level Second Life is always a computer system, thus it is a closed formal system. Life requires an open chaotic system for the human creativity to flourish. Humans need cities full of cultures, they need face to face with people where they can see the imperfections of age or ravishes of poverty. They need all the flaws, all the heat and smell, and the inability to avoid the junkies begging or the political protesters screaming at you, the traffic jams and the long lines.

Virtual reality can only provide a movie like experience, perhaps a period of fantasy or a platform of communication. But the idea of a cyberspace in which most of us will be living in the near future is horrific. My exploration of Second Life has shown me what this kind of place would be like, and trust me no one wants to live there.

I would go as far as to say humanity would be better of choosing extinction than preservation in cyberspace.

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life
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