I always ask students if anyone remembers ‘Second Life’. I’m always amazed when only one or two hands go up, even among older students. For several years, it seemed to be everywhere.
It was “a faithful replication of our modern world where whoring, drinking, and fighting were acceptable. It was the place where big brands moved in as neighbors and hawked you their wares online. For many, it was the future — our lives were going to be lived online, as avatars represented us in nightclubs, bedrooms, and banks made of pixels and code.”
This excellent article on The Verge blog gives some background to the ‘Second Life’ phenomenon, and the fact that despite the vagaries of fashion and media interest, it never really went away.
It’s also very good at communicating the idea that an online identity, quite different to your own, is a powerful attractor for many and even a comfort.