For my daughter’s 9th birthday party, we decided to celebrate it at Sega GameWorks in Seattle. Everyone got unlimited access to the videogames for 2 hours so naturally, I plopped myself down on a game I haven’t played in over a decade. It was a game I used to cherish with my husband before we got married–Virtual Fighter. Now in its 5th incarnation, the graphics is an amazing work of art! The gameplay however is the same. I didn’t know I was playing against the kid seated on the opposite side as the challenger until I had defeated him for the 3rd time and heard him utter “umphh…she’s killing me…she’s good.” His friend peeked over at me and that was when I realized I was playing against a 12 year old and actually winning! I got a strange satisfaction out of the whole experience as he slumped away, with his tail between his legs, realizing that a mom had defeated him.
It really brought something to light. Is it our psychological barriers that older means less technically savvy that prevents us from accepting technology in our lives? We all know of fellow librarians who harbor internal prejudices against technology, often setting up a false dichotomy of technology vs. education. And how many times have we heard of people saying they have a hard enough time with their first lives to get a second one? I admit that I was one of these people until I got onto Second Life recently.
I discovered that having a Second Life isn’t all that different from real life. Some of us already lead this kind of existence with our roles as moms and librarians. In fact, I suspect that it won’t be long until we lead a third life, a fourth life, on other virtual planets etc. etc. the same way we own multiple email accounts with different sign-in names. More accurately, it would be like having multiple browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera to view the World Wide Web. The brain after all can simultaneously keep 4 thoughts going at the same time. Why not try four virtual planets just because you can?
My point is, don’t buy into the backlash against 2nd Life. It’s all terminology and circumstance. It’s ridiculous to suggest that when you serve someone on Second Life, you are neglecting a patron on First Life. Second Life isn’t really “life” but a platform, and the next evolutionary step of internet. Are we doing a disservice to first life patrons when we do email reference, Ask-a-Librarian chat and phone calls to serve patrons? The answer is an unequivocal no.
Many of us are in denial that we are in the age of digital natives. How many times have we walked by people whom we thought were crazy, only to find out that they have an earpiece attached to their cellphone? Watching someone using the Wii controller to jog around Second Life is even odder only because we’ve never exercised that way. Second Life is just another information place we can meet these people and serve them. It doesn’t have to be one world or another. We can straddle as many worlds as we want and be all the more information richer. We can even defeat a 12-year-old at a video game. It’s the same game, different skin. Second Life is the internet, in a different form. If we only set our minds to it we can free ourselves of our psychological barriers. If I can do it, you can do it too!