CBS Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith dropped in on ex-plumber, Second Life millionaire Kevin Alderman to find out how he turned an alter-ego avatar into big income.
It’s the oldest profession in history of the world and now, with the reality of virtual worlds becoming visceral and comfortably private, the fantasy of exploring diverse sexual appetites has become practically carefree, and for some, quite lucrative. What is happening to our world?
Apparently digital entertainment has ushered in a new era of guiltless moral promiscuity. For some, that solves a lot of problems. For others, it poses a lot of serious questions about the future state of society and the blurry line of what freedom really means given the uber-pervasive nature of digital media.
Most people are quick to discount pornography as base and well, beneath them to say the least. But online pornography is the fastest growing business in the world. Some say it has funded the Internet for the masses. And obviously someone is buying all that porn. In this new world of computer generated alternative realities, you’d be surprised at how otherwise straight-laced, conservative people are working out their stress after a long day at the office.
According to Andrew Tuplin, a popular culture blogger:
“Technology is dragging morality into some deep and murky philosophical waters, forcing us to reexamine our understanding of it as many of us choose to become actors in virtual worlds. By putting choice and consequence in closed virtual worlds where we can kill without harming others or facing punishment ourselves, we are forced to reconsider the case for moral behavior.
New video games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and online communities such as Second Life, invite an increasingly large percentage of society to participate in fantasy worlds where we are invited to experience life without rules – to be the bad guy, or the sexual deviant. The implicit suggestion of these products is that, like gravity, morality does not necessarily exist in a virtual world. Morality and consequence can be switched off. Anything goes. It’s an attractive proposition, one that undoubtedly contributed to the record-breaking sales of Grand Theft Auto IV, which took in over $500 million in its first week.”
What problems does this portend for a well ordered society? How will people of religious faith maintain continuity with broader societal freedoms, preventing intrusion into private lives, while enabling cheap moral depreciation; perhaps the most insidious of drugs? CBS News contributor Lloyd de Vries weighs in with:
“A recent article in the Wall Street Journal told the story of a married man who spends more time online in a virtual world than he does in the real world with his real wife. His virtual self has a virtual female friend that was created by a real woman. They talk, go for virtual motorcycle rides, shop at the virtual mall, etc. They’ve never spoken to each other on a real phone, and have no plans to meet in the real world. So, it’s no big deal, right? Well, a few months ago, his virtual self proposed virtual marriage to his virtual girlfriend. His real wife’s virtually furious about the whole thing.”
One thing is sure, you better buckle up, because it’s likely to be a bumpy ride for The Great Society of individual empowerment in this new age of anything-goes. On the other hand, better to have the freedom to choose, rather than an odious lock-step shuffle back to equally prudish and puritanical morals enforcement that imposes a narrow view of a singular acceptable lifestyle for all of us – or else!