Entered in world 4/30/07.
What is the promise of Second Life? What is its core appeal? A world that’s better than reality, a world that approaches the limits of human imagination, a world where we can create that which we might not necessarily have in first life. I spoke recently with a higher education official at the PESC conference who told me a touching story about a girl with severe autism. For the sake of narrative, let’s call her Kimberly. She could not speak to other people or even make eye contact, and for years believed she was condemned to a miserable, secluded life.
A miracle of sorts happened. Put Kimberly in front of a computer, and she’s indistinguishable online from the millions of others online – she can chat, hold conversations, and now, explore Second Life better than her first life. She can converse, make eye contact with avatars, and feel like a “normal” person. What a marvelous gift technology is for her to be able to interact outside the boundaries of her illness.
Refreshment. Joy. Unity. Experience. These words thankfully are broad enough to leave behind soft drinks and water, beverages and brand, and convey something larger – the human experience, the human life worth living well.
What are all the experiences Kimberly probably would not be able to have in first life that are worth having? Will she be able to easily travel to the Grand Canyon and get a feel for its majesty? Will she be able to easily go scuba diving off the Na’Pali coastline of Kaua’i? Probably not easily, at least not with today’s current understanding of autism.
What gift could the Virtual Thirst give Kimberly? The experiences that we so treasure – that we spend thousands of tourism dollars on each year – in the only realm in which she can explore and interact with great ease. Attend a Matthew Ebel concert to hear fantastic music. Sightsee the world’s top 10 greatest attractions, built with loving detail to capture as much of the experience of being there as possible. Present beautiful art, sculpture, and dance in a world free of restrictions of conventionality, in a world where disability doesn’t exist.
Refreshment. Joy. Unity. Experience. Could it come in a vending machine? Sure, as a teleporter to entire islands which are experiences unto themselves. Think outside the box? Think inside the box, and satisfy the thirst for a life well lived.
Kimberly is waiting.