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« Re: ’Give these poor souls a thought’ | Main | Truth on Downward Spiral »

September 28, 2006

Second Life -- at what cost to real life?

The Economist has an article this week on the virtual website Second Life (PG-13 rating -- article has language and Second Life site has virtual girls in bikinis).

According to their website, "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 338,895 people from around the globe."

"Residents" create an online persona, buy land (with "real" money), build houses, start businesses, socialize, shop, and can pretty much virtually create, be and do anything. They even have virtual currency that can be exchanged for real money (if you are a virtually successful entrepreneur).

The Economist article shares some interesting applications for the software such as a psychiatric professor who developed a way for his students to "get inside the head" of a schizophrenic to see the world from their perspective.

Linden Labs Chairman, Mitch Kapor, predicts that “spending part of your day in a virtual world will become commonplace” and “profoundly normal.” Second Life may even “accelerate the social evolution of humanity.”


I'll let you all discuss the worldview implications of spending time, creativity and energy investing in a virtual community rather than with flesh and blood people who live next door or work in the next cube or who maybe need that creativity, energy and time invested in real solutions to real needs.

Some points to ponder: Is this a Marshall McLuhan moment? How does this jibe with today's ubiquitous quest for "authentic community" and "missional living"?

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I believe authenticity and a real-living-breathing community just gets harder and harder. With that said, I am largely subscribing to McLuhan's notions that the means of communication in our media saturated western world dictate their message. In this case, the virtual medium being our message. One that is false, anonymous, and disconnected. If I were in the community of “residents” I might expect myself to further withdrawal from the truly relational and powerfully tangible life that I desire. I am thankful this desire is part of the Lord's design. But maybe there is opportunity in all of this because we all have this innate thirst for community and God which not virtual, but real. So thankfully these desires cannot be satisfied here.

Remaining relevant with the Gospel of Christ just got a whole lot more interesting.

On a side note: I wonder how many residents are spiritual leaders, pastors, missionaries, etc. That reminds me... Where did I put my virtual currency tax deductible donation?

Greg Laurich

Although on the surface this looks like just another escape for people to use like the TV, it's also an opportunity for Christians to share their faith, a virtual community is still a community and this may be a place where people who would not ordinarily ask about God may do just that. I don't remember any exceptions to the line about wherever 2 gather I will also be there in the bible. I know that was an imperfect paraphrase, but I think you understand my point. We need to meet them wherever they are and be ready for the 'God' moment when it happens.

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