Addiction – SL as the double-edged sword

Addiction is a word that’s riddled with stereotypes and varied meanings. When saying the word to someone, usual associations they’ll make will include alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling, sex and so on. For the sake of this discussion, addiction occurs when an activity affects an individual’s ability to function effectively in their day-to-day life. Based on that definition I’ll make two claims:

1. Second Life will cause addiction

2. Second Life will help ameliorate addiction


On the downside, it will be fairly obvious to any regular SL user that there are people in-world who have made SL the focus of their existence. They literally live it. And in some cases this will come at the expense of employment, family, friends, sunlight or pretty much anything that person may have held dear. I emphasise some cases. There is a much larger population of people passionate about SL and that’s actually essential for the ongoing success of it all. What I’m getting at is that SL, like pretty much any pursuit in life, will take its toll on some people. All that can be done about it is ensuring those people get the support they need, whether officially or through some sort of volunteer network.


On the upside, SL is already demonstrating its potential as a therapeutic agent for people with addiction or other mental health issues. We’ve mentioned the Support for Healing island before and I have no doubt ther are other great initiatives going on. At the very least, SL may provide a less harmful addiction for someone doing themselves serious damage in real life – harm minimisation is a powerful perspective in the addiction field and it could play a valuable role in-world as well.

I believe in-world counselling will become a must-have feature – the only issue will be whether it’s driven by Linden or the SL community.

Woud love to hear your comments here or on the related discussion on our forum

SL the future of the internet?

I ain’t sure – and here’s why – it’s too much of a pain in the arse.

Let’s do a hypothetical: the big four banks decide an SL interface is the way to go for their internet banking and introduce it. I can tell you now, if they continue to offer the current web interface I’ll take it over going through the motions of walking up to a virtual counter to go through a virtual conversation to withdraw funds. It’s a trite example but you get my drift.

I’ve shown SL to a bunch of people between the ages of 25 and 65 and the initial reaction is usually flat to say the least – not because it’s new and involves change, but because the feedback is ‘why would I bother?’.

I’ve even done some work to get a company I know to look at SL and I get the same reaction – it’s not that the technology doesn’t have potential, but that it will extend the time taken to do things. I think there’ll be some bridging technology between Web 2.0 and the SL-type interface before there’s even a remote hope of wide user acceptance…

Thoughts? Thanks to Leyah for inspiring the topic 😉

Kevin Rudd avatar contest

I’d like to announce the Kevin Rudd Second Life Avatar contest. Whoever can design an avatar that looks the most like Rudd, wins a lifetime subscription to this site, worth at least fifty cents!

Anyone game?

Rudd vs Beazley and SL

This may seem a bit of a stretch, but Monday morning at 9.30am the Federal Labor Party caucus will choose its leader. It got me thinking around the Australian political scene and whether SL could play a role like it did in the recent US mid-term elections. I can’t imagine Beazley thinking that far outside the square, but maybe the Rudd / Gillard team might?

Given we tend to follow the USA in so many ways, then in-world electioneering may not be too far off. Or am I being just a little bit optimistic?

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