Reenactors, Anachronists, First Lives and Second Life

One of my co-workers has a current significant other who is a pirate reenactor – which I have to admit was a new one to me. And we have spoken here, on occasion,  of the SCA in tones ranging from admirable to puzzled but one thing I will say unequivocally, without any puzzlement,  is that at least all the reenactors and anachronists are running about in the real world.

I mention this because I am continually reminded of the vast stores of enthusiasm some people have for Second Life, which puzzles me to no end. People who’s opinion I otherwise respect, seem to get swept away in the irrational fervor and illusory promise of an online world that is sure to be the “next big thing”. I’m puzzled even more deeply when I see educational institutions jumping on the pixelated bandwagon.

So what’s my beef with 3d virtual worlds? I really have no problem if someone wants to while away their life glued to a monitor, clicking, swooping and zooming in some make believe world. But what I’m hearing, from some sectors, is how wonderful and educative it is – which in select cases it may well be, but it’s very select and it’s very exclusionary and passive. Changing the clothes on your avatar don’t change nothing in real life, cleaning a pixelated toxic river doesn’t save one real fish, and in my humble opinion, what we need now is people who can effect real (positive) change in the real world.

So my beef includes:

  • Privileged assumptions about univeral access to high speed internet connections and current computing technologies
  • Assumptions that we live in a digitally literate world
  • Creation of an illusory sense of impact ( we can’t change the world but I can change my avatar, so that’s something)
  • Disengagement with the real world

That’s a partial list. There are so many factors at play, so many risks unaccounted form, in our naively enthusiastic adoption of and egagement with technology. I’m not the first, by a long shot, to mention this but I think it bears frequent repeating.

More to come, without a doubt……..

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Reenactors, Anachronists, First Lives and Second Life by ptreadwell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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