Mr. Bookworm came home from work yesterday quite excited. A friend had introduced him to one of those interactive online worlds, this one called Second Life. Here is how Second Life describes itself:
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by 340,465 people from around the globe. * From the moment you enter the World you’ll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Once you’ve explored a bit, perhaps you’ll find a perfect parcel of land to build your house or business.
* You’ll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow residents. Because residents retain the rights to their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other residents.
* The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the in-world currency, the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online currency exchanges.
It is definitely an impressive bit of computer technology. To me, though, it’s also completely pointless. Why in the world would I want the “thrill” of making an avatar dance? And so what if I amass a fortune in fake money? I have way too much to do in my real life to fuss around aimlessly in a “second life.” However, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an extremely task oriented person. There are a few things that give me immediate pleasure — reading, ice cream, blogging. Everything else I do for a purpose. I like to play computer games, for example, but only if they involve problem solving (which is why I really liked Myst).
Really, the only thing that fascinated me about Second Life was my husband’s rationale for thinking it’s great: you can be in a community with and meet thousands of people. To appreciate why this is fascinating, you have to understand that, in our first life, here in reality-world, Mr. Bookworm is not at all a social person. He finds it exhausting and overwhelming to meet new people. What this means to me is that Second Life is really a perfect venue for shy people who crave social interaction, but can’t quite achieve that in the real world.