Remember when we all had tails and roamed in packs picking the rotting flesh from carcasses even the heyenas had given up on? It sucked, so we came up with tools with which we could, after some trial and error, create our own carcasses and keep the heyenas from getting hair all over the leftovers. Now we make animals extinct without a second thought and when’s the last time you saw buffalo wandering down Main Street? It used to be cold and wet and being cold and wet makes you get the sniffles so we stretched some animal skins and bound them to ourselves and now we can almost ignore just how unattractive Aunt Helga actually is because we don’t have to look at as much of her as we used to before she covered herself with pelts… Sleeping in caves was alright– they were there and with a fire at the mouth they kept warm alright but the bats made so much noise and spiders laid their eggs in little Jimmy’s matted hair and Gods how he squealed like a heyena when they hatched and they were certainly drafty… Now you can live in a hermetically sealed condo/loft and order Chinese every Tuesday and what’s on cable? We’re a dissatisfied lot who have fortunately been able to,

with the use of our extraordinary yet mushy brains, resolve each point of discomfort and distaste and boring through ingenuity

and cleverness… Don’t feel like being along? Now you can babble to some associate as you walk down the street on your cell phone… Can’t cook? Microwave… Incapable of deep discussion and introspection? Singles bars… The challanges of combating the fatigue of the human condition have grown as we’ve progressed in covering ourselves with downy do-dads and gadets aimed to distract us from the daily toil and drudgery… Televisions weren’t enough so we had to accentuate aspects of the viewing experience, make them bigger and flatter with better sound (to hear every nuance of the dialogue) and attatched video game console, DVD player and, coming soon, easy grip catheter… The internet provides similar forms of distraction and disporting by providing an easier access to previous preoccupations… Second LifeHere in Dreamland USA a company called Linden Lab has developed an internet dreamland, Second Life, a self-contained 3-D model world where users can pursue the time-honored traditions of commerce, networking and fantasy as their alter-ego avatar… An amazing combination of network software and graphic design software leave much of the online existence up to the users… My quick tour of the website observed people selling virtual property, virtual constructions for said virtual property, virtual clothing for your virtual avatar, and virtual friends for your virtual life… There seems to be no small amount of games available to play on Second Life and, as expected, many games of chance with which you can become a virtual millionaire or, more likely, a virtual pauper; since some online traders even have exchanges set up maybe you could even become a real life millionaire or, more likely, a real life pauper… Users have created online associations which, according to the Linden Company copywriters, include group film discussions and neighborhood associations… According to a user’s Police Blotter fansite there are even virtual conflicts of squatting and intimidation/extortion going on… So it appeals to three standard entities: people who spend their money collecting trinkets and oohing about how shit’s cute; people who find themselves playing online poker at three in the morning; people that get beat up in real life but fucking rock at Doom… Yet as there is still some satisfaction in actually having a physical trinket eBay and other bead exchanges dominate and since there’s better ways to gamble or play games most online poker will be dealt elsewhere… The last group seems particularly attractive as habitual users but, then again, there’s the much more popular and active Eve-Online geek paradise just down the broadband from here… Who really cares about Second Life? Suzanne Vega, apparantly, as she’s declared the first artist to perform live on Second Life– there’s a neat little movie you can watch of someone’s avatar making her virtual guitar… So washed up has beens have a home, a place where they can dominate once again, where their pixilated and rendered likeness can still be found alluring and smooth… Shannon Grei is quoted as saying she works 40 hours a week designing virtual clothes for avatars– which is how she makes a living. In the same article a Linden Lab employee, Catherine Smith, talks about how you can go sky-diving without a fear of dying… Well, no honey, it’s not sky diving but, yes honey, it ain’t gonna kill you… No adrenal glands pumping bile around your stomach, no wind whipping through your hair at dangerous speeds, no fear no live no die… Who really cares about Second Life? What kind of person finds it a worthwhile place to invest their time and a moderate sum ($10 a month allows you to buy your first piece of property and begin doing whatever the fuck it is you do) pretending? Probably the same people who used to lurk on BBSs trading phone phreaks and code hacks and sinister little anti-everything messages with one another and the same people that used to meet on Saturday night in someone’s garage for some epic D&D and grape soda… Online daters who can’t handle the crush of pheremones and nerves, recluses who can’t handle the outside, the lonely and dejected and the failed… Everyone else, design students experimenting with styles, highschool economics classes practicing at business, snarky teens looking to talk dirty and pick virtual fights, will most likely have their fill pretty quickly and move along on to the next trick… No, I dunno– it’s such a vast entity… I spent an hour just looking at the company site and some user forums and still couldn’t begin to understand how it even works… I find it compelling, certainly, and to an extent dangerous… It seems like it’s something which requires actual experimentation (like mushrooms or homosexuality) before having any sort of understanding… One thing’s certain– there’s a lot of potential for something to be made of the space but I have no idea what… Well, actually I imagine it’ll be wasted, set aside, and forgotten… My guts say good idea, but I don’t really know why…

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