Saturday, March 17, 2007

Finding the Real World

As I read a young fella's blog (www.reemer.com ), I realized that his proclivity for all things web was matched by a propensity to travel. My first thought was, oh good, he visits the real world as well as the virtual. Yet I see an error in my thinking. My time at the office reviewing purchase requisitions is real, I suppose, but hardly more meaningful than visiting my daughter's blog or text messaging my son. It's wonderful when we are close enough to press flesh and monitor facial expressions minutely. But is blogging less real than standing next to a stranger on a city bus?

I recently discovered Second Life, a sort of massively parallel multiplayer role playing game without a score. I am not knocking it, but I'm sure you detect skepticism in my word choice. At first I was appalled. All those hours building an avatar, embellishing one's virtual accomplishments, accumulating virtual items. I checked myself and asked, what is present or missing in Second Life that would cause me to consider it real or unreal. Meaningful relationships was my first thought. If I hurt someone's feelings or make them glad, it is getting very real very fast. If all my actions are without real consequence as relates to anothers well being or even my own, how satisfying will it ever be. I loved watching YouTube videos of Matt Harding. On the outtake version at http://youtube.com/watch?v=tT8jA_pps3o he dances a little jig in a multitude of exotic settings. In most he is alone. In Rawanda he is joined by a growing, grinning crowd of young kids doing their best to imitate him.
They are delighted (as was he, I hope). Matt changed those kids world that day. They got to be video taped. A few of their elders gathered to watch and laugh. Quite a contrast with some other happenings in Rawanda. If even one person reads my blog and is meaningfully impacted, I will trade that for an awful lot of standing next to strangers on a bus. Of course, an alternative might be to meet a new friend on a bus.
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