All entries for Friday 05 December 2008

December 05, 2008

"Thought" for the day 4.12.08

Frequently when listening to the Today programme’s thought for the day, I’m struck by how rarely the item actually contains anything resembling thought – it usually just contains the re-hash of some half-baked ramblings, and an enormous mismatch between the speaker’s statements, their understanding of themselves and any sort of self-awareness.

Yesterday’s was one. Mona Siddiqui on Second Life. Now I’m not going to construct any knee-jerk defence of Second Life, it has its faults, and has been prone to hype, and a lot of weird activity does take place in there. However, in her item Mona makes some statements that indicate she hasnt understood what’s going on there very well. “For me these sites can never replace the highs and lows of real human relationships”. OK brownie points for starting the sentence with “for me” but what she’s forgetting is that the relationships people have virtually are real human relationships, even if they’re taking place in a virtual world. Again “escapism flourishes by taking us away from what is important, from the needs and desires of those on whom we depend and who depend on us”. Well sure, too much escapism might be a problem, but spending time online is spending time with the needs and desires of those on whom we depend and who depend on us. Just because they’re not in the same room doesn’t mean that those people aren’t forming a real connection with us. Sure, I feel there might be a problem with someone who has a partner in the real world, and yet spends hours playing WoW or in SL, but then, it would be just as problematic if they were watching TV or reading a book rather than connecting with the people (we assume) they’ve made some sort of commitment to. For anyone living on their own though, what’s the problem.

And of course, MS believes in God, (otherwise she wouldn’t get a slot on Thought for the Day) and what can be more escapist than that? I don’t have a problem with people having a religion (I’m not a fundamentalist atheist) but it is hypocritical for someone to criticise others for not living in the real world if they’re living in a fantasy world where they like to pretend there’s a big beardy bloke in the sky making things happen. At least the people who spend 40 hours a month online (which is pretty much everyone I know) spend the rest of their time with reality. When can Mona Siddiqui ever say that she’s engaging with the here and now, not losing her senses into a virtual existence? Which really is more of a fantasy existence?

Again, no criticism of anyone who wants to escape into religious belief if that’s what you want to do, but it then means you’re not in a position to criticise someone else for being escapist if they live in a virtual world for some of their time.


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