Recently, I have spent so much time 'in-world', exploring and living my Second Life that I have not actually been back long enough in Real Life to reflect and blog these experiences ... relying on room service and my trusty alarm clock to remember to eat and sleep. Ok, so I exaggerate, but this is not as flippant a comment as it might seem.
Talking with others both inside and out of SL then a pattern of use is emerging which on the surface is quite astonishing. Hours and hours a day being spent within this seductive virtual environment, hanging out, socialising, building, going to concerts, flirting, working and so on and so on (building social capital). And as increasing numbers of corporate and public institutions continue to stake out their territories within SL then the reasons to venture out into our bleaker and less colourful, more physically determined world (so it seems?) become less and less attractive ... other than to seek nourishment and ensure our continued bodily presence? Waking this morning and feeling an undeniable urge to slip back inside my digital persona I began to wonder if Huxley's "soma", the utopian wonderdrug of Brave New World, had arrived almost unnoticed, not as a pill but in the guise of a compelling massively multi-user 3D immersive world.
And what of this analogy? I leave it open to question. In Huxley's multi-layered tome (and I take a quote from one reading of the novel):
"A regimen of soma does not deliver anything sublime or life-enriching. It doesn't catalyse any mystical epiphanies, intellectual breakthroughs or life-defining insights. It doesn't in any way promote personal growth. Instead, soma provides a mindless, inauthentic "imbecile happiness" - a vacuous escapism which makes people comfortable with their lack of freedom. The drug heightens suggestibility, leaving its users vulnerable to government propaganda. Soma is a narcotic that raises "a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds."
Perhaps I am being inflammatory and negative - but then, perhaps not? I am as yet unsure.