A very nice article in USA Today: Faithful build a Second Life for religion online, even if they did ignore the Quakers (and almost skipped the Buddhists and assorted Pagans). Near the end is a statement that rings true for me:
Indeed, says Internet expert Julian Dibbell, “virtual reality is in some ways an essentially spiritual experience.”
2 Replies to “Nice article on Second Life religion in USA Today”
That’s an interesting statement. You find this to be true? If so, how is virtual reality spiritual?
BTW, have you started twittering yet? 🙂
Well, here’s the rest of his quote:
“You see signs and signals but you give them meaning. Even the rites of the Catholic Church are an interaction of signs, tokens and material symbols of faith, given their meaning by what is happening in the mind and soul of the believer.”
Virtual reality certainly isn’t a physical experience, so that leaves psychological, intellectual, spiritual, relational. I’ve found all these to be engaged in Second Life. I’ve made friends, I’ve learned things, I’ve expressed myself creatively, I’ve felt connected.
In Second Life, unless you blindly accept the default avatar you started out with, everyone must make conscious choices about every detail of how they present themselves visually to the world. Is it a costume? Is it a mirror? Is it a window? Inherent (for me) are questions of what is real, who I am, and what way of being has the most integrity, all questions that have a spiritual grounding. I’ve also looked for (and involved myself in) religious activities since I first entered Second Life, and I suppose that makes me part of a tiny minority.
Other people, of course, enter virtual reality for the thrill of shooting a virtual weapon at virtual figures or the thrill of pornography, or, or, or. Some (many? most?) may deny that spirituality is anything real. No matter where we go, we drag our “real” selves along with us, our interests, our peccadilloes, our beliefs, our biases. I don’t know if Second Life has a spiritual dimension for them, just as I don’t know if real life has a spiritual dimension for them.
Everyone seems to be all atwitter over twitter, but I don’t really get it. Certainly a number of bloggers I follow (both in my “geek” category and in my “Second Life” category) have been trying it out and either loving it or having a similar bemusement to mine.
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