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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Poor Conclusion

I believe in Second Life's value as a cultural entity because it embodies the triumphs and conflicts, the spontaneity and weirdness of human interaction. Poignant, memorable events - the likes of which in real life would require significant investment of time, funding, and likely the use of influence and power - can in virtual worlds be conjured with the predominant factor being motivation.

Strength of will has brought various political ideologies into virtual actuality within Second Life. Such visible diversity is often unable to be accepted within a finite zone. Social theorists widely accept the process of 'othering', whereby individuals define themselves by the perceived differences inherent in others' identities. Conflict can erupt when a zone holds value to multiple groups at odds with one another whom, upon collectively concluding their differences to be irreconcilable, resort to means beyond language to attain supremacy within the zone. Front National, a highly motivated conservative political movement based in France, became the target of one such challenge:

"Many regard FN as a fascist organization, which apparently sparked the SL protests... One enterprising insurrectionist created a pig grenade, fixed it to a flying saucer, and sent several whirling into Front National headquarters, where they’d explode in a starburst of porcine shrapnel... By last weekend, whole sections of the FN office were gone, apparently lost to lag or sabotage, their banners and posters floating in mid-air. And FN members seemed notably absent, too"

You may perceive bacon bombs as a lesser artefact of ideological conflict, the swine-swingers do exist (merely?) in a virtual world, after all. This virtual tear hardly parallels Tiananmen Square. Although SL's battles may rage on with little impact on the wider real world, I believe it important to consider these conflicts as a source of resolution without risk of injury. If real change can come about through virtual conflict, the Velvet Revolution may potentially become commonplace.

And penises are funny. Haha, penis.

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