A few days ago I wrote about Second Life – the virtual reality portal that burst onto the internet perhaps 15 years ago, burned hotter than the sun for a few fleeting months, and then vanished from our collective consciousness.
For the last 48 hours I have dipped into and out of the largely forgotten virtual world, and have something of a tale to tell – and not one you would expect.
My immediate reaction – that I wrote about – was that the entire experience was clunky, disruptive, overly difficult, slow, resource hungry… I could go on. Here’s the thing though – the environment wins for the same reason that MySpace and Tumblr have won – not because the platform is wonderful, but because the people that inhabit it are.
Second Life is perhaps remarkable in that the hurdles it places in front of you are so high you might imagine people would give up before reaching the tipping point where you form friendships and become attached to the community. That doesn’t happen though – or at least it didn’t to me. Within minutes I struck up conversation with enough people to convince me that I had been something of an idiot for the last however many years.
In the same way we might post to a blog, or comment on somebody else’s blog to forge connections with a circle of friends around the world, Second Life provides a much more obvious, visceral connection. You get to see the person you’re talking to. You get to “meet” each other. Sure, you can’t easily hug, kiss, or jump on each other’s bones, but you can spend time in each other’s company – and that’s kind of huge.
You’re no longer pissing into the wind.
I guess this entire post is a roundabout way of apologizing for not being around for the last few days – but then again, I’m not apologising. There comes a point where you make decisions about how best to spend your time – and for the moment, an archaic virtual world seems to be preferrable to a half-baked pubishing plaform read by a handful.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a party to attend on the internet, filled with crazy people, banging music, and idiotic conversation.