Virtual reality secludes students


    As our techniques of communication become increasingly efficient, we, as a society, are also becoming increasingly isolated – shrinking back into dark caves, so to speak, retreating from person-to-person interaction and willing to be known through online summaries of our personality through Web sites such as Facebook. These sites quickly divide TCU students.

    On one side, it’s a fantastic way to keep track of friends at schools worldwide. On the other, it is too easy to reduce our personalities to a one-page summary – changing our electronic selves to reflect our changing moods. Some students update their Facebook profiles more regularly than they brush their teeth. It’s obsessive.

    Xanga, MySpace, Friendster and so on. Could the virtual universe get any worse?

    Yes, it can.

    Second Life, an online 3-D virtual world launched in 2003, offers users an alternate universe where they can visit virtual casinos, attend virtual weddings and own virtual land. All of the things one does in real life, you can do all over again in this online community. Has the real world become so boring and daunting that we now feel the need to retreat to an alternative fantasy land? More than a million people around the globe apparently think so.

    Even worse, the British news agency Reuters has began reporting news on Second Life to keep users up to date. But wait, there’s more: Reuters correspondent Adam Pasick has created his own character, Adam Reuters, to report on the virtual news from this virtual world.

    It seems harmless. But there is the possibility that real damage is done when we forfeit human interaction for online anonymity and distance.

    Earth to students: come back to the real world.

    News editor John-Laurent Tronche