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Try Getting a First Life


I’m a busy guy. In addition to my role with The Yellow Scene, I have a full-time corporate gig for a good-sized telecommunications company. I also write steadily for a few other publications. I bill an average of around 20 hours of freelance work per week, in addition to the 40 to 55 hours my day gig eats up.

I’m a married man. I have a wife and a home in the suburbs with a dog and a yard. My home was built in 1964. It’s a nice home, but it could be better, and weekends often find me tending to some issue that needs repair or updating. My wife likes to spend time with me. That may be why we got married seven years ago.

I’m a musician. I like to do some scoring work (I’ve had the opportunity to do a couple corporate video scores, work on some shorts and one independent film). I have some friends who I like to see often. My parents and sister live near me, and I see them on occasion. My wife has family here, so we spend some time with them, too.

In short, I have a life. A very filling, busy life that affords me little time for unproductive distraction, but provides me with a great many outlets for fulfillment and happiness. I wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s. Except maybe Jay-Z’s or Brad Pitt’s.

The last thing I need is a Second Life. Apparently, there are 7,782,228 people out there who don’t share my opinion.

This is the number of people who inhabit an online, virtual universe called Second Life. Second Life is more than another Massively Multiplayer Online role-playing game. It’s a complete separate world with its own economy, where you can buy property, own stores, go shopping, play games, eat dinner, take a shower or mow the lawn. You can pretty much do anything you can imagine doing in your first life. In addition to that, you can do a lot of things you can’t do in this life: marry someone way out of your league, turn into an alligator man, create an empire or fight dragons and space aliens. Linden Lab launched this virtu-verse in 2003, and it’s become a whole new designer drug for the marketplace—evercrack is old and busted, Second Life is new hotness.

People make (real) money in Second Life; some make enough money to pay for their real first life needs. They create Second Life products—games, animation, graphics or virtual jewelry, cars, whatever—and sell them. You can even buy an island (again, with real cash) on Second Life, where you can isolate yourself from the Second Life community (we’ll ignore the irony of that one for now).

Marketing wonks are hip to Second Life. Already, Comcast, IBM, Adidas, Warner Bros. and many more real, first-life companies have Second Life presence. Suzanne Vega, Duran Duran and Ben Folds have all played concerts in Second Life. Major hotel chains and travel agencies now exist in Second Life. Real cops in Vancouver are recruiting through Second Life. In South Korea, the government is taxing Second Life inhabitants’ income.

In short, with each new user, each new first life entrant into the Second Life world, the line between the two gets just a touch more blurry. Anyone remember The Matrix?

Second Life could be even worse. In The Matrix, the computers had taken over—the vast majority of people didn’t even know they had been cyberjacked. In Second Life, we’re jacking in voluntarily.

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