Saturday, December 23, 2006

Second Life: Shameless, Sinful

It only gets worse, it seems. I wrote of the dangers of virtual worlds in The Soul in Cyberspace a decade ago. What was once in the perverted vanguard is now mainstream muck.

There is nothing wrong with virtual adultery or flaunting it before millions, according to "My So-Called Second Life." Joel Stein writes of his venture into Second Life (a virtual reality role playing environment) in the December 25-January 1 issue of Time. He recounts his "relationship" with a sexy virtual character, whose real-life counterpart is pictured (trying to look wholesome) and described as married and a mother of three. The word that describes it all is "shameless."

Mr. Stein, who sadly has no moral discernment (especially considering a previous article, which confessed that he could not live one week without television), enters the Second Life "world" amorally and navigates it as such. His world--and, apparently the world of Second Life denizens as a whole--is one without morality, without sexual decency, without soul, without consequences, and a world without God, without the audit of Eternity (Kierkegaard)--or so they imagine. The article betrays no sense guilt or of even wondering if this cyber-activity is somehow debasing or dehumanizing or demoralizing. I'm sure the avatars in Second Space cannot blush (although they can activate and wield genitalia).

Those reveling in Second Life should consider finding a life worth living, a life embodied in and edified by Truth. This is a world where "love of neighbor" become a reality day by day, a reality that has demands, rewards, and joys enough...without the surrogate and vain imaginations and high-tech perverseness of Second Life.

9 comments:

Jeff Burton said...

Thank you professor. There is so much bearing down on us at with the weight and velocity of a locomotive.

Taran said...

Very big of you to judge all of SecondLife by one person.

Is your judgement so great?

stones. casting. hmm.

Douglas Groothuis said...

For a deeper analysis of the problems of living a virtual life, see my book The Soul in Cyberspace--although you probably won't.

I don't assume that every in Second Life has virtually adultery, but it must be pretty common. Even if one doesn't, what redeeming value could this "life" have?

Tim said...

Doug,

Read a book? You mean one of those ... those ... paper things? You must be kidding!

Douglas Groothuis said...

Tim:

I'm sure they don't read books in Second Life!

DG

Dark Horse Sprit said...

It's true, there is much sex and also gambling in SL, but there is a lot of other stuff to look at, a lot of frinedly chatting to be done, self help, creativity, spirituality, dancing, sports, games etc etc, IF you care to look, and are not obsessed with sex. Being asexual myself, I tend not to bother with it, but if that's the way your mind goes...

Dark Horse Sprit said...

It's true, there is much sex and also gambling in SL, but there is a lot of other stuff to look at, a lot of frinedly chatting to be done, self help, creativity, spirituality, dancing, sports, games etc etc, IF you care to look, and are not obsessed with sex. Being asexual myself, I tend not to bother with it, but if that's the way your mind goes...

Kenneth said...

Oh my, you back up your critique of virtual realities by a book you wrote eight years ago? And then suggest they don't read books in Second Life? Have you been in Second Life?

I have, and I've seen books, even though such a virtual world is not an optimal environment for books. Yet our attachment to the form is such that we seek to replicate it even when it is unnecessary for transmitting the content.

Another thing I've seen in Second Life is churches. Several, in fact, and they are growing and multiplying. And I don't mean the Church of Elvis, I mean Abundant Life Ministries church, and the Unitarian Universalist church, and synagogues, mosques, and Buddhist temples.

Since you seem to assume that Second Life has no redeeming value (because it is virtual), then I wonder what possibly motivates you to enable comments on this blog and to respond? How can this virtual environment, where the vast majority of content is about commerce or sex, possibly have any redeeming value?

Bromo Ivory said...

Reading what is essentially a polemic, I cannot get past the thought of the person that looks at a pornographic magazine, then condemns all magazines as pornographic.

While there are many people that use this virtual playground as a way to role play a number of silly fantasies, there is a growing number of positive life-affirming things taking root - a number of churches, activist organizations, and some healthy fantasies (such as a thriving Star Trek based group as one example).

This whole condemnation reminds me of the Dungeons and Dragons critcisms in the 1980's - that somehow it led to Satan Worship and Suicide which proved untrue and silly in the final analysis.

And unlike Dungeons and Dragons - if you think it is a corrupt place - you can (and indeed, SHOULD) have a presence there and turn the tide - since Second Life certainly does not create the sin in people's minds, though it gives them a playground in which they could play it out.