Friday, March 7, 2008

Kinda A Little (OK A Lot) "Creepy" with Many Quotation Marks Involved

Meet Prada Eames, my Second Life avatar.

My label whoreness=Prada.

My love of L&O CI=Eames.

I've been flying around Second Life, and I get it. But I don't.

Here's what I get: That, in terms of education, it's the next step. In the picture, you see Prada viewing the BGSU art gallery. How rad, right? And how rad that there are faculty offices where you can "meet up with" and "talk" with your professor bypassing all the awkward BS that comes with face-to-face meetings? And how rad that you can be at class in a "video-game-like" world? I adore all this business. But seriously how many students have the the newest Mac computers (or PCs) that are able to support Second Life? Most college students I know are poor, praying for enough money to get their textbooks.

Which leads me to what I don't "get": the desire to be freak-ish. Yes, in Second Life it's "cooler" to be something you could never be in real life. As you can see in Second Life I'm a brunette with Christian-from-Project-Runway jeans and a killer white jacket. No tats or pink skin or mohawk hair; I'm just me. (I admit if there was a Hello Kitty avatar I'd be her.) Aside from Hello Kitty, I don't want to be anyone else quite honestly. Also, I just don't want to put that much energy into a world that isn't Godly.

Yes, Godly.

Here's where SL gets creepy for me. Didn't God create us to live our lives in the flesh and blood? Aren't we put on this crazy planet to learn about life, love, fashion in real life? So why do so many people live their lives in SL? Seriously? I have a fab marriage, awesome friends, a sweetie puppy I adore, a job I love; why in the world would I need to live a computer-generated life? Aren't things complicated enough, though, with feelings, life lessons, and understanding the world? Why in the world would anyone want to "live" in SL? I mean bad things happen there: you can assault avatars, bomb buildings, terrorize islands. I can't figure out why people do that in real life; how in the world would I ever be able to understand the code for getting a therapist after a SL assault?

I totally understand the merit of online education/distance learning through SL. How rad to "transport" a class to India to learn about Indian poets and food. How rad to have a common meeting space to be able to "see" one another even though we're online and in different corners of the world while in class at the same time? In terms of all things education, I'm all for SL.

What I'm arguing against are those who use SL to live their lives.

That shit scares me. Our lives are so rich and meaningful; why in the world turn to digital media to create a life for yourself? Just walk outside and take a walk. For real.

Maybe a lot of people are afraid to go outside, let alone take that walk. But what does that say about our society? To me it says shouldn't we invest in cleaning up our world rather than creating digital ones (Hello, owner of Amazon who created SL in order to boost online shopping and online sales)?

The sad thing is I'm living in this real world and the Second Life one, and I don't have the hang of either one yet.

Though I see the merit in both, I just prefer the real one much more.

1 comment:

aschwar said...

I tend to agree with you. I tried out SL over a year ago and found the learning curb a bit difficulty, (i.e. walking around, manipulating objects), and also found that SL was an enormous drain on my PC's resources. During my few weeks there, I visited English island and saw the potential for distance learning, but what's the point? It seems to me that having a dedicated...or at least closed platform for your classes would make more sense, and that the "game" aspect of it distracts from the actual learning that's going on. Yet I continue to hear about people teaching, researching, and collaborating in SL. I think the ideal SL students and teachers would be people who already use it for recreation and do not need to learn the technology at the same time they are learning content. That said, it may be an ideal training environment for designers, programmers and IT types, but what is the purpose (beyond the gimmick aspect) of putting a writing class in a virtual world?