There is frequent discussion about the meaning of reality when one is present in a virtual world actuating an avatar which is the combined product of computer programming and art work. What IS real and what is not? I won’t be the first, the last nor the best one to tackle this subject but it needs to be addressed.
What you see and manipulate in Second Life is not real. Who you interact with is always real. The person sharing an opinion is someone sitting in Hoboken or Los Angeles, typing their comments via a computer…just like you! They are not computer generated images, however unlikely their avatar’s appearance might be. Just like you, they know great joys and disappointments in their lives. Just like you, they have had a good day or a bad day. And just like you, they enter into this virtual world for their own purposes.
UUtopia, like the rest of Second Life, fulfills many needs. One can relax after a hard day with friends, one can meet new people, share or learn new ideas or experiences. One can create new structures, devices, clothing, or opportunities for entertainment. And in UUtopia, one can participate in weekly Unitarian Universalist services.
There are limits to what an animated avatar can do to implement these principles, but there are no limits for the human sitting behind the computer monitor. As such, the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Second Life has decided to exert the influence of its very human members to help other people, to show our compassion and to enable those who are willing to help themselves. We regularly exercise the second and third principals with open and energetic discussions about the human condition and about the beliefs of many different religions.
Look at the avatar to your right and to your left. Close your eyes and see the college student taking a few minutes off from her mountain of text books, the father who read his children a favorite story before sending them off to bed, the retiree who just wants a bit of company and laughter. These are the people who are sharing the virtual space with you.