Monday, September 10, 2007

Tales of the Weird

OK. Here's some news from the weird side. First of all there is this fairly new virtual world called Second Life where you create a virtual life for yourself online in a "parallel universe." The problem is that it sounds worse than this one. Yes there are some benefits. You can fly. You can't feel pain and you can turn it off if you want too. But it seems very much like our world with all the problems magnified. A few quotes:
Second Life, a three-dimensional world built by hundreds of thousands of users over the Internet, is also being used for education, meetings, marketing and more obvious game playing. It’s a wide world with a lot going on, in multiple languages, and it can be real-life enhancing for populations who are isolated for physical, mental, or geographic reasons. But as a petri dish for examining what makes many of us tick, Second Life reveals just how deep-seated the drive is to fit in, look good and get ahead in a material world.

“Why can’t we break away from a consumerist, appearance-oriented culture?” said Nick Yee, who has studied the sociology of virtual worlds and recently received a doctorate in communication from Stanford. “What does Second Life say about us, that we trade our consumerist-oriented culture for one that’s even worse?” The rest of the story is in the New York Times business section.

The second story is about street kids with a twist. A weird cult of the Mormon Church has been excommunicating teenaged boys because of their, well ... teenaged boy behaviour - like watching movies and looking at girls. However the real reason is that there are too many men in a community that averages 3 or 4 wives per man. They have started a ministry to these street kids of a different stripe because the number is running into the hundreds. The New York Times again gives the the rest of the story.

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