Second Life, Tech Geekers, And Escapism

By Xah Lee. Date:

The following is originally posted to newsgroup “comp.lang.lisp” and others.

Tim wrote: “…”.


So you did get a life? What? Second Life? LOL.

Btw, if you joined Second Life, let's meet. I'm Xah Toll there. We can voice chat about the importance of functional programing in humanity's future.

In fact, there is a lisp group in Second Life. I don't remember his name now, but few months back he's telling me to post in comp.lang.lisp about it. (obviously he's not gonna do it and seeing how i more fit for the job.) Also, i have created a emacs group in Second Life too.

(one time i mentioned about Second Life in's irc lisp channel then promptly got banned (luckily, it was temp ban). LOL, you know how male groups are … )

If you haven't heard of Second Life, have a look here: Second Life Screenshot Gallery.

I highly recommend Second Life even if just for a tour. A virtual world like Second Life, is in some inevitable sense, how technology is heading towards.

Whenever i mention Second Life to some programing geeks, their first reaction is “thank you, i have a life”. Quite silly. Perhaps such reflex is partly due to them being the most lifeless class of people. I can't emphasize enough, that Second Life, despite it's funny name, is a major technological impact on human society, just as the internet was. I've been in Second Life daily for the past 1.5 year. Originally i was there to explore the potential of building geometry visualization, but got distracted quickly.

(for geometry in Second Life, see for example: Math in Second Life)

Daily, i literally talk with (voice or text) people from Europe, Australia, Japan. And there is all sort of incredible social things you learn in such a virtual congregation. In fact, now many universities have courses on Second Life including programing courses on their language (just do a web search using keywords: “Second Life courses”, “Second Life, education”), and many major tech corps have a presence (For example, IBM, Intel, AMD, Sun Microsystems, (just do a search in Second Life on company names.)).

We, are the lovers of technology. Though, sometimes i am surprised by how little your guys know about its relation to society. I don't mean average professional coders, who are usually dumb, just doing a day job, and have no interest in math or programing langs really. But i mean you guys, who hog around “comp.lang.*” newsgroups and tech geek blogs n slashdot all day.

have a look at top website by Alexa for example:

Yahoo and google and msn are top 5, old news. But look at things like YouTube. Basically in just a couple of years it climbed to the top. Note that any of these, will have building-sized serve rooms with hundred server machines. And, when i see some of you sneer at YouTube with its JavaScript and Flash, or sometimes sneering at Wikipedia (currently ranked 7) , thinking that these are for kids or whatnot, i can see how you are totally ignorant of what's actually influencing the human society.

Also, note that Facebook, Myspace,, orkut, these are also top 10. These are social network sites. Most are often sneered by tech geekers here. You really just have to take 30 minutes to think about the significance of these sites with respect to the world's affairs, the impact they are doing.

I'm no card-carrying sociologist, but i can tell you roughly on the ball-park, that Youtube alone, its impact on cultural exchange and understanding, perhaps out weight all the culteral exchange works and programs and education done in the past decade.

Also, note that is ranked #35. Perhaps you don't know, but is basically a website like youtube, where people can upload vids, but porn. [see]

In the past, there are many major controversial studies on human sexuality. For example, Kinsey report (~1950), Masters and Johnson (~1960), involving funds, interviews, painstaking research… and at those times, their results are controversial, banned, etc. (at those times, gays are illegal and jailed. Only in recent decade, ass faaking or cock sucking is officially legal in most states) But look at youporn today! Such a site basically makes past human sexuality research like using kid's toys to build a house. And look at how our society has progressed and opened up, by what? By Communication! The _communication_ that the technology brought us. Mostly the internet!

well i don't know why am i writing this… i guess one sentence leads to another. You tech geekers, have a look at society! Stop your killfile drivel and spam-filtering setup proudness or your how-you-should-format-your-code or Common Lisp vs Scheme, or whatever incredibly blind and stupid thought you are doing daily.

Xah Lee wrote: «So you did get a life? What? Second Life? LOL.».

Tim B wrote: «I used to think there was nothing sadder than usenet and IRC. Now I know there is. “Oh hey, the real world is too painful to deal with, and we're crapping all over it which is making it worse. So lets run off into some fantasy world where none of this happens, and if it does, it's all just pretend anyway.” Come the revolution everyone who has ever used second life will be used as fertilizer.».

O, but what can i say? It is the modern world that is becoming. It's called the cyberspace, metaverse, cybersex, phone sex .

Modern society made us. It made me. I'm just helplessly addicted to my emails, computer screen, refreshing google group every minute. And, one day, i'll dive into the machine, the net, a digital becoming, and merge together with information as one.

Further readings:

PS you are quite right about Second Life. Despite its technology aspect, it is a place where a lot people use it to escape reality.

I've been slaving in Second Life for the past year daily. I have observed, a abnormal percentage of people who spend half a day or more there daily, are unhappy in life, or in some depressed state, had physical or mental trauma, or otherwise filled with life's problems (many are fat n lonely housewives). Many have cancer or other illness, and there are quite a few (real life) deaths i've known.

(In Second Life, by its 3D nature with humanoid characters in humanoid environments, and real-time voice chat, the conversation are often about real life things, from dish washing to movie watching to relationship, sex, programing to politics — anything human converses, much like any conversation you might hear or talk in bars, coffee shops, shopping malls, dance clubs, parks. There are also profile photo for real life info, and users can easily get to email exchange, phone chat, and in fact a lot couples met in RL thru SL. It is very conductive to get to know the real person behind the avatar.

But in newsgroups and irc, due to the text-only nature of the medium and tech nature of group charter, it's hard to guess who is behind the email addresses. This i have wondered in the past. I picture a high percentage of them to be disgruntled programers, unemployed, or no-girlfriend college nerds. Fat, ugly, sad, loners. I bet the average happiness index of tech newsgroup or irc users are in fact lower than Second Life users.)

Of course, this doesn't apply to all, and escapism is just one negative view of online media. For example, i'd say majority of Second Life users have a healthy life physical or mental, and is in Second Life for the fun, entertainment, learning experiences, technological exploration, and even making (real) money.

Perhaps Second Lifers have high percentage of escapism, but let's look at real life for a moment. There are bars, alcoholics, cig addiction, drug users, unhappy infirms, family abuse problems, … If you look at the human animal broadly, let's say just in settings familiar to you of North America or Europe (let's ignore Asia, Africa, South America for the moment), there's all sort of people and life styles. I would, rather, be a loner and play with fantastic characters in a tech created virtual world, than, say, become “normal” and “happy” and watch TV everyday, go to church to chant every week, or go to bars to drink, or be a white trash or red neck life-style and mentalities in some Bible belt states. There's Britney Spears and Michael Jackson and too many other celebrities who are illustrative of this point. Such private live amuses me.

PS perhaps this is worth mentioning, that tech geekers perhaps think Second Life users is mostly kids or game players that are small in number. Actually, the active users of Second Life is perhaps 10 or 100 times than the active users of newsgroup. (what can i say? the tech geeking morons are imbued with unreal views of the world)

Ok, the above is a brief write up on life-style, happiness, and state of some online media users. I gtg to sl now. Don't touch the dial! The next episode of Xah's Edu Corner is coming up!