If you haven't heard of it, one of the hottest things on the internet right now is Second Life. This is how Linden Lab (the creator of Second Life) describes the experience: "Second Life is a 3D digital world imagined and created by its Residents."
Such a short phrase and yet it says so much. I had to see what all the buzz was about. So, I created an identity (and no, I'm not revealing it) and started exploring. After reading some of the stories in the popular media I was expecting the worst. Instead of a virtual world filled with scam artists and moral depravity I found something else. I found a microcosm of the world we live in. Sure, a person can find all the trouble they want if they look hard enough, just like at home. A person can find some extremely positive areas and activities as well. Again, just like at home.
A large adjustment for me is that there is no "objective" or "mission". There are no points or lives. The environment is what you make of it. Sounds a lot like real life: You get out of it what you put into it. If you want to be a virtual slacker, go for it. If you want to be a virtual entrepreneur, have at it. For now I'm going with the slacker route.
The key phrase in the description above is "imagined and created". The sim is what I make of it. This is daunting to me, but with enough exploration to see what others are doing I'm learning what that means.
So far my favorite part is exploring and meeting people. It's really cool that every avatar I run into represents another person. Striking up conversations has been a blast. I have found some Christian themed areas that are friendly and make the experience positive.
In a virtual environment people seem to have fewer inhibitions, so they are more apt to stop and talk with virtual strangers. Of course, as anywhere on the internet, it's best to not reveal too much personal info.
In short, I'm glad I gave it a try.