With Internet reaching nearly the whole world, and most of the people being a part of one or the other kind of virtual avatar, let’s finds out more about the virtual world, its addiction, and the effect on the youth.
As RJ Jahanvi said in Lage Raho Munnabhai (Indian movie), “Internet pe duniya se to touch mein hai, lekin pados mein kaun rehta hai, jante tak nahi” (through Internet, one is aware of what is going on in the world, but is unaware of his/her neighbours), taking this thought further, the youth today is not only in touch with people around the world but have made a fake life that they live in the cyber world.
Call it second life, virtual life or an escape from the reality, the youth today is more into their virtual world that they have built through websites like secondlife.com and games like Farmville, Cityville, and Yoville, where one can create their own animated figure, make them live a life like they would have liked to lived.
Many psychologists opine that the reason for such a rise virtual life’s popularity might be because people are trying to escape from harsh realities of life. “Making a life in the cyber world and making that virtual person live your life, is one of the defence mechanisms that people use to distract themselves and escape from the problems that they might be facing,” says Bineeta Sengupta, a psychology student.
Not only is virtual life a form of defence mechanism, there are many who have become addicted to their virtual avatars and find the happenings there more important than any real events in their real life. “The opportunities in secondlife.com are almost endless. One can make their own dream house, buy and sell things, make a world for themselves that is almost perfect. In that case, why would I not give more important to my life there?” questions Vasavi, a 20-year-old who has a virtual avatar since last two years and has been visiting her virtual world nearly everyday.
It is a second world as many institutions have been taking it very seriously and have set-up their virtual businesses in the virtual world. This includes one of the leading news agencies that has set up a bureau there with avatar journalists.
Not only secondlife.com, but also games like Farmville, an application in Facebook, have become so popular that people have exchanged their real cash to get the Farmville currency called Farmville cash. Many are so addicted to Farmville that they have created a whole new world on their farms, where they have various people living, each having some or the other kind of relationship with their neighbours.
“Patricia Smythe-Radcliffe is thinking of having an affair with the hot young piano teacher, Theodore Vance, who just moved into Farmville. Little does she know Theodore has already set his sights on the homely librarian, Ellen Bradshaw.
Patricia’s husband, Sheldon Radcliffe is quite actively pursuing Victoria Montgomery. The minx already has two men wrapped around her finger, the adulterous Sheldon and the rakish Christian Blackwood. And she’s about to add a third — Jean-Pierre Savage, who loves his wife Michelle, but is drawn to Victoria.
Mme Michelle Savage, is happy tending to the vineyards, oblivious to the drama that is unfolding around her,” was the status message of one of the ardent players of Farmville.
With smartphones becoming more and more common, it has become easier than ever to visit one’s virtual life, while on the move. There have been incidents where employees are caught visiting their virtual avatars while at work, on their smartphones.
In sometime, it will be no surprise if people in the real world will stop moving out of their houses and will live a life only through their virtual avatar.
Radhika Chhotai Kotecha
Published on March 30th, 2010