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Second strife

OK, so the world is a crazy place. There’s war, poverty, racism, environmental destruction, Paris Hilton. Visit the Seriously newsroom on a bad day, and you might even find our team of jaded journalists starting to wonder if there’s more to life than this?

Well, whadda ya know, there is! Second Life – the online virtual world where we are free to live out our dreams.

That’s the idea anyway. If you find yourself fed up with the emptiness of shopping malls and consumer hedonism in RL (Real Life), login to Second Life (SL) where you can wander around... virtual (yet somehow even more spiritually vacant) shopping malls and indulge in consumer hedonism – but naked, and armed with ‘dong guns’!

Fed up with politics in RL? Login to the SL and find yourself talking to a representative of French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen’s far-Right Front National or the UK Independence Party, both of whom have virtual offices there. Fortunately left-wing liberation armies launch attacks on these groups and spray their buildings with faeces and exploding pigs. One anti-Le Pen protestor even gets into the anti-racist spirit and yells ‘The French stink!’.

Equally, though, there are the right-wing groups who have been ‘griefing’ US Democrat presidential hopeful John Edwards’ virtual campaign HQ.

Fed up with the corporate takeover of everything in RL? Well login to SL and... find all your favourite brands from Adidas to Nissan pimping out their virtual corporate headquarters and spraying the world with advertising. You could try to have a drink at a nice pub – but not if you don’t have any Linden dollars, the currency that can be traded for real money and ensures the rich-poor divide remains intact online.

If that’s not your cup of tea, you can try to find a quiet respite away from the ubiquitous casinos and brothels on a nice quiet island idyll. What’s that? You’re on private property and someone has just shot at you with a chicken leg?

Oh dear, don’t despair, a few hours in Second Life and Real Life will start to look much more promising. Then again, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with Third Life, with even better ‘dong guns’...

New Internationalist issue 399 magazine cover This article is from the April 2007 issue of New Internationalist.
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