Second Life, a ‘place’ to change your mind…

Inspire Space Park with avatar dancers
Inspire Space Park with avatar dancers

Second Life, a ‘place’ to change your mind in many ways and many times. Those of us who like exploring virtual worlds do so for many different reasons. Clearly some people allow themselves to be swept into the alternative reality afforded by the immersive experience, they might describe themselves as ‘living Second Life’. Meanwhile, others are drawn by the shifts in perception that a virtual world can generate. This line of thinking might be drawn on a continuum from the feeling aspect of experience to the thinking aspect. We virtual world travelers could all potentially position ourselves somewhere on this continuum. I would also factor into our elected position an elasticity; that is, we could each draw a bubble around ourselves that shows the degree that we move up and down our own selected reaches of the feeling/thinking virtual experience.

Some people happily spend their time in-world as their avatar projection of themselves interacting with other avatar projections. They all become players within their projected play, calibrating their  virtual relationships according to their agreed upon version of shared virtual reality. I would put these people and their avatars at the feeling end of the continuum. At the same time I would say they have powerful anchors that orient them to their location in a greater picture of space and time. That is,  travelers in virtual worlds know they are sitting at home watching their computer screen where they are also answering the phone, planning meals and reminding themselves to unload the washing machine.

Many people simply accept this is how they are within the virtual world as they access it from the physical world, they don’t ask deep philosophical questions they just ‘do it!’ Others find themselves having a different type of experience while hovering more towards the thinking end of the continuum. We self conscious ‘thinkers’ wander the virtual world, play with our avatars and interact with others in the 3D space but we constantly try to align everything so that it makes some kind of sense. We find that the hook that brings us back again and again is a question, actually it is more like a string of questions. Second Life is more of an experiment for those of us hooked on trying to figure out the virtual world experience. I would say it is a ‘Glass Bead Game’ for us, a virtual place where we can explore both ourselves and our understanding of reality. By that, I don’t mean virtual reality versus physical reality (virtual world v the so-called real world) I mean reality itself.

Inspire Space Park, Shinda. Second Life:

3 thoughts on “Second Life, a ‘place’ to change your mind…

  1. A view from sociology is that we construct our real world to a considerable extent – certainly a lot of what we take to be the social world. Not that we are hallucinating but the social world is largely composed of meanings or meaningful constructs and communication. We are continually jointly (re-)constructing what we call society.

    *If* this is the case, then SL is not very different from the real world — at least in terms of social aspects. It is the case that for various reasons SL is less stable (or more dynamic) than RL, new societies are arising and failing in SL all the time, centred around activities that are more difficult in RL (the activities are dangerous, socially unacceptable or simply impossible). Thus SL provides different affordances.

    More deeply, our understanding of our own minds (and hence possibilities/areas of growth) have social origins. We understand ourselves using other’s that we observe as a model for ourselves and we understand others using ourselves as a model for them! Thus we bootstrap our understanding of our selves and others together, they intimately co-evolve!

    So yes, we are continually to change one’s mind AND one’s society IN PARALLEL. We are inherently social beings – our very self-understanding is intertwined in our social life. We live in society as fish live in water.


  2. The nature of your comment would seem to place you at the ‘thinking’ end of the feeling/thinking continuum mentioned above. I am suggesting that SL is used as a game (by some) because of the way it causes us to consciously shift self-awareness alongside our understanding of what constitutes reality. It is also intriguing to see how we simultaneously ‘run’ parallel realities (or, as you would say ‘societies’)while we interact with the parallel experience. Question: How many societies can we interact with simultaneously? Answer: Unlimited number if you are a teenager. Perhaps 4-5 if you are a mere mortal…

  3. You are right that I expressed myself in very cerebral terms – I guess I was reflecting with my academic hat on (yup another parallel world that only sometimes intersects with RL).

    Of course, my own experience of SL is very much in emotional terms and this side quickly took over from and became more important than my intellectual involvement.

    One of the (other) attractions of SL is that it can allow the exploration of all aspects (except the physical) together. So my most moving experiences is when the emotional, intellectual (and yes sexual) aspects are all involved, being explored and challenged *together*.


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