It’s a nasty, rainy day, so we decided not to go to the lake today. I needed a chill day at home anyway. I accidentally ran across an article about “Second Life”, a platform online that has helped tons of people with disabilities be able to live a more fulfilling life. I was shocked that I hadn’t heard of this before, since it’s been around since 2003.
Why is it so popular with the disabled community? Well, for one, your avatar can look like anything you would like it to look like (within some limits, but not many), and not only can you walk around and run, you can fly through the virtual world that has been built by tons of people. Even better, it also gives folks the opportunity to get together, hang out and maintain friendships in real time. Add in the ability to actually talk to your nurse (seriously, there are medical professionals that interact with folks through this platform), and the ability to be able to hold an actual online job (yep there’s a whole marketplace in this thing), and you’ve got something that really improves the daily lives of people who may not be able to move around, be interacted with easily, or communicate in the same way as neuro-typical people do.
So, of course, I had to check this out. I went to Youtube, as you do, to find some tutorials or some examples of what interacting on this platform was like. I was kind of blown away. It’s all encompassing. There are people who literally do it as an actual job. Most of the money making revolves around real estate and avatar beautification (creating clothing, skins, etc), but there are some other creative ideas floating around. People have created games withing the platform, for example. I can also see it being very addictive, as it’s sort of like the Sims, except much more involved.
As I went down the rabbit hole, which is YouTube, I also found that there are lots of other things that go on in the virtual wonderland, and I don’t just mean sex, because we all knew people were going to be doing that. There’s nasty interactions that make a FB comment section look just peachy. There’s some criminal elements in places (of course), and there are plenty of cringy weirdo stories out there too. Essentially it’s like Facebook and The Sims had a baby with Grindr and Tinder. This makes me want to look into it less, because I don’t even Tweet. I can’t keep up with all of that stuff, and people are savages.
YouTube has always been very useful for me to learn about pretty much anything. How to repair a dryer, toilet, tile. How to make soap (yep). How to dig a pond. That’s been my primary use of YouTube. There is also this crazy sort of fandom thing going on in there where all of the teenagers have channels and essentially spend all of their time doing annoying things and talking smack about each other. Everything is a “controversy” and so damn dramatic. My niece talks about all of those YouTube kids all of the time, and the take away I get is “Oh my God. Thank God that wasn’t around when I was a teenager.”
I’m totally okay with feeling like an old person here. I watched a couple of these teenagers play “Second Life” and wherever they were and whatever they were doing was all just brutal, so I guess, as all platforms, it is what you make it. The thing that broke my heart at one point was hearing this 17 year old girl, who has a very famous channel, express that she knows that all people are terrible. She said it several times, and you know what? If I grew up and lived in her world of 24-7 social media on several platforms, I would feel that way too.
Lots of the folks she interacts with are terrible, and all of those YouTube kids describe themselves as “awkward” or “socially terrible”. I closed the window and just felt dirtier for having watched this sad, teenage, dramafest unfold on a platform that also does so much good. I went in there looking at all of the good that could be done, and of course, also found the bad. I feel so terrible for young people today, they live in a fishbowl world full of disses, death threats, doxxing threats, constant insults and so much cruelty.
Well, that’s today’s soapbox. Second Life looks pretty cool and I’m glad that it’s beneficial for so many people. I’m surprised that I had not heard about it before now, but it’s also something that I would have never had time for, so that might be why. Now I’m going to turn off the lightbox, and go do some First Life.