August 12, 2022

Real Life > Second Life

When I tweeted this in class, I expected it to be rhetorical- just another opinion of mine for my 202 strong followers to ignore. However, today I found myself in the corner of the campus Starbucks, engaging in a half-hour twitter banter with an avid Second-Lifer. Shockingly, when our vastly stimulating “conversation” ended, I still think Second Life is lame as hell- and here’s why:

Second Life boasts that it’s “the largest ever 3D world.” This means the active level of users is insanely large- roughly 1 million actives in 2014. Donna Davis, the director of the Strategic Communication Master’s program at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus, spoke in class yesterday about her research into SL- specifically how it’s helping people with Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s havers are able to “live” life in SL in ways they aren’t able to in real life because of their disease. In cases like Fran Seranade’s, SL has helped her condition in real life.

Awesome, SL is helping people.

Davis also talked about how there are people whose entire income comes from SL. In 2009, the total size of the SL economy was $567 million. That’s real dollars, all for virtual goods. Musical acts can “tour” in SL, where they receive tips for their performances. According to Davis, some artists can generate enough money by doing this SL becomes their primary income.

Okay, SL can provide people with an income. That seems fine. In response to my tweet about SL being ridiculous:

I do have an issue with creative people monetizing their imagination apparently when it comes to SL, or any other “virtual world,” (don’t call it a video game, because clearly it is so much more,) such as Minecraft or World of Warcraft. My issue is that while you may be “creating” within the game, your in-game creations are limited to within said game. Your real life is stagnant. Call me crazy, but I still value real, physical world life a little bit more- and by little I mean so so so much more. While your in-game character is running around doing everything you can’t do in your actual life, your real self is wasting away.

My mom always says, “there are givers, and then there takers.” If you spend your real life living in a fantasy Second Life, you are the biggest taker. Get up from your cheeto-stained chair, take a shower, get out of your mom’s basement, be thankful that you probably don’t have Parkinson’s, and create something in real life.

It is very much a game actually. And while I may not have known much about it the first time I tweeted about it, I can now be very certain when I say, Second Life is still lame as hell.

Henry Cromett


11 thoughts on “Real Life > Second Life

  1. Though I understand and relate to extent what you are preaching here I think that there were a lot of unnecessary stereotypes that you’re perpetuating on to the people who use this virtual world. Not every user has a chair covered with cheeto stains or lives in their mothers basement. I think the most important factor to take away from what Donna was lecturing to us about is that this virtual world is a place where people who otherwise do not deal with the real world can fit in perfectly. Imagine spending your entire life living in a world where you never quite fit in or found a group of people who accepted you? Where would you go? What would you do? All too often we see these people taking their lives because the discomfort of it all becomes too much. Maybe to you Second Life is lame as hell, because the life you live in the real world is the exact opposite. For those that use Second Life, the real world to them is lame as hell. Their Second Life is exactly what the name means, a second life. A second chance at doing life in a world where people accept you and welcome you for all that you are, with zero judgements. Just because these people are not doing anything “creative” in the real world does not mean they aren’t creating something extremely unique in the virtual world. Social media platforms relate in the same exact way. They too are a virtual world that from the sounds of, you use. It is important to express opinion, and I understand your opinion in its entirety. I think that there should be a balance between real world and virtual world just as Donna discussed. However, it is important to express your opinion without being judgemental. Doing so sounds truly ignorant to the kind of world we live in today and makes you sound extremely close minded.

  2. I have to agree with Christina. While your ideas are valid, many online communities are made up of people who can’t find their place in the physical world. These people allow their life in the physical world to stagnate because it was already stagnate to begin with. If you hate the person you are in the physical world, why not create a new version of yourself in a virtual world that you can love. The online world allows people to escape the person they are.

  3. Henry,

    Not one to jump in on what the other two said, but I’m going to have to as well. I understand your perspective and how it can seem as though these folks aren’t taking advantage of the “physical world,” but if you think about it they are in some respect.

    Folks who are engaged in Second Life are connecting with others around the world. Granted many of these folks have an opportunity to reimagine what they look like, can physically do, etc., there is still a connection over a social platform. Think of all the folks who enjoy seeing musicians in Second Life and have hundreds of fans online. What if that person couldn’t physically go out into the world because of a disability that refrained them from traveling, or they never had an opportunity to make it big in whatever geographic location they are in. Someone like this is creating a unique connection to users globally, just virtually.

    I think your second to last paragraph showcases your perspective on what Second Life is and the people using it. I find it interesting that you think those who use Second Life are what you described as lazy people who haven’t attributed to anything, and still live at home because you think they are doing nothing with their lives. Would it surprise you that there are Fortune 500 companies who encourage their employees to use Second Life because they have such a global presence they can’t find another alternative for their company to become more connected? Or would you find it interesting that Drew Carey, Daft Punk, Duran Duran, and other celebrities are on Second Life because they know there’s an entirely different community that enjoys their physical word “creativeness” in the virtual world that differs from their physical world audiences?

    The concept of Second Life can be difficult for others to see value; much like many companies and brands. I think it’s important to look at both the negatives and positive when deciding. However, I would take into consideration the outcomes Second Life has offered many avid users and companies.


  4. I too agree with the comments above. It is wrong for us to have such harsh stereotypes/ judgement on this topic. If people decide to live their life in the real or second life world then that is their choice. Not everyone can have a positive experience in the real world and perhaps maybe this is their way to escape for a bit. I think the second life is a creative solution to those who need it. BTW – Abbie, thank you for the incredible insight. I didn’t know how powerful the second life can be for brands/companies.

  5. Henry,

    Thanks for sharing your point of view about Second Life. Before listening to Donna speak, I had many of the same beliefs as you. I viewed Second life more like a video game where, like you mentioned, people get wrapped up in and lose track of their life in the present world. However, now that I am much more knowledgeable about SL, my views have changed.

    I think it is so interesting how invested people are in this virtual world. The fact that someone could attend concerts, go to meetings, and even make money in a virtual space is mind blowing. Having a family member with Parkinson’s, it was also comforting to hear Donna talk about the success this world has brought to the Parkinson’s community. Though we did not go into depths about other diseases and disabilities, I wonder what other kind of successes SL is bringing.

    Needless to say, I believe people are quick to judge Second Life due to lack of information. As more people become aware of this virtual world, it will be interesting to see the impact it has on the “physical” world.

  6. Henry,
    I think you obviously have some very strong opinions about SL, and to a certain degree I agree with you. I think there are a lot of possible downfalls to SL that we may have overlooked in our lecture. There is always a possibility of people becoming too attached to SL and therefore will become detached to their real life and real relationships. But to contrast that, I think that any social platform has the ability to do this. This is the first that I have heard about SL, so it’s kind of hard for me to wrap my brain around it all, but I do see some positives to it.
    When it comes to people with debilitating diseases, I see nothing wrong with them engaging in a world where they feel fulfilled. If they were not participating in this world, what might they be doing? Watching TV? Sleeping? Reading? Regardless, they physically could not do much to contribute to the physical world.
    Although I do agree with some of your points, I think the way you present your ideas can be disrespectful to those who actively engage in this world.

  7. Way to be controversial! I’m not being sarcastic, I genuinely mean it. I believe that fostering all types of ideas on this student blog is an excellent way to have a genuine conversation and build persuasive writing skills–which is incredibly important in media communications. I can understand where you are coming from–its hard to understand how sitting at your desk playing a game for countless hours a day could be considered a real job. But, this is the 21st century and lets face it–people make money in very different ways. Think of YouTube. People who make YouTube videos can become YouTube partners and make money from ads that play before their videos. And let me just say this, they are making A LOT of money. Its the same thing with Second Life, people are making a lot of money, also online.
    I don’t believe that it is your right to judge Second Life users based on their decisions to spend their time or money online. Who’s to say that living a life online is less noble than living a life offline? The lines between virtual reality and actual reality are becoming increasingly blurred in this day and age. Second Life is not something to scoff at, its something to marvel at. This is the future, whether we want to accept it or not.

  8. Henry,

    I can understand where you are coming from. At first I was also a little skeptical about Second Life especially on investing in virtual items. I won’t spend $50 for a couch that I can’t sit. And spending hours a day talking to someone you have never met before sounds just odd. But then I was like “Wait, I’ve done that before.” In fact I am still doing it now. I have a lot of online friends that I just happened to know through Twitter and music blogs, and I think the situation isn’t much different compared to Second Life. Sometimes when you can’t find people who have the same interest as you in real life, online friends are the way to go (thanks Internet!). All in all, it all comes back to the question “if it is good and harmless, why does it matter?”

  9. Firstly, cheers to all the responses. So many valid points.

    I wish I would’ve checked this sooner. I kind of just ranted, then forgot about it. When I wrote this, I was fresh out of that twitter interaction, and it shows in my writing. Was I too harsh? Probably. However, now that I’ve had time to step back and reflect on this more I still agree with everything I said. I clearly am not a video game guy, and I definitely look down on people that are. Is that a good thing? Obviously not. But I’m not gonna pretend to be politically correct and hide how I feel. This is a blog. Blogs are for opinions. My personal opinion is that video games are a waste of time. I am happy to own that. I guess I’m glad some people are really into them. I’m pretty certain I’m coming across as an asshole. Sorry for that.

    I genuinely do appreciate all of the responses. All of the points are so valid, and I can see how you could easily feel the ways you all do. There is no way I can say this that will make me look good so I’m just gonna say it: my first life is great. I know this is the reason I can’t empathize with Second Life, or any other virtual reality players. Although I know I haven’t sounded like it, I am really appreciative of my good fortune. I honestly am going to try harder to empathize with people. I just felt like pretending to care would make for a hollow post. Sorry for sounding like an entitled jerk.

  10. Henry, you obviously have some strong opinions of Second Life, especially for someone who doesn’t participate in virtual realities. While your opinions are strong, they clearly come from a place of privilege. Just because you aren’t able to value the Second Life experience doesn’t mean you should criticize the people who do. I think it’s incredibly important to keep in mind the people Second Life helps. Not only Parkinsons patients, but I’m sure individuals who suffer from mental illness, like social anxiety, could benefit from Second Life as well. Since you don’t know what it’s like to operate within society with ailments like these it seems a little presumptuous for you label Second Life “lame as hell” and invalidate the experiences of its users. Also, If individuals are able to rely on Second Life as a source of income, it is clearly more than a game. It’s their livelihood.

  11. I agree with Christina and many of the comments above in that you have to be very careful of the stereotypes you perpetuate…especially when posting them on the internet for all to see. However, I do agree with you in many other ways. Our society as a whole is so easily consumed by social media, so much to the point that we forget what is reality and what is not. I have watched as our generation transitioned from kids playing outside to teens glued to our phones unable to hold a conversation with others for more than a few moments then are pulled back to the buzzing noise in their hands. We are slaves to our technology and in my opinion, it needs to come to an end. But then again, maybe this is a part of our evolution, a part we didn’t foresee because it is not biological but simply technological. But I guess that is our world now.

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