Archive - May 15, 2008

Second Life Parallel Processes

I spend two days away from my computer and come back to over 2000 unread email messages and several interesting discussions. Last year, Gartner, “the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company”, predicted that 80 Percent of Active Internet Users Will Have A "Second Life" in the Virtual World by the End of 2011.

Not everyone is happy about the prospects of this. Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois is pushing for legislation that would Ban 'Second Life' in schools and libraries. Needless to say, educators that use Second Life for pedagogical purposes in schools are not particularly supportive of the proposal and there has been a lot of discussion about this on the Second Life Educators list.

Meanwhile, on the Group Psychotherapy mailing list, there has been a backlash against the discussion about the therapeutic potential of virtual worlds. Some of it seems to be motivated by discomfort with Second Life. Some of this may be motivated by concerns about possible dangers to children in Second Life, particularly related to sexual content, that is the big concern of Rep. Kirk, it seems like other concerns are more prominent, such as people spending too much time in Second Life at the expense of face to face social interaction.

This concern sounds fairly similar to concerns about kids watching too much television, and it is interesting to note that one therapist talked about how one of his patients had increased time for Second Life by decreasing time watching television. From a McLuhanesque perspective, this is perhaps a positive step, since Second Life is much more immersive and interactive.

It may also be that some of the concern comes from a fear of the unknown. For many of people, Second Life is something they haven’t experienced. They’ve read about it in various places. They’ve read about the dangers of video games. Second Life and video games remain a foreign and threatening technology to them.

There is perhaps another underlying theme on the Group Psychotherapy list, the concern about ‘alternative therapies’. The discussion about therapy in Second Life often centers around art therapy or psychodrama. People aren’t sure what to make of alternative therapies.

Yet this ties into yet another parallel process. As I was driving by daughter home from college yesterday, she talked about what she wanted to do. She is a musician, an actress and an artist. She is interested in psychology and was very interested in alternative therapies.

One of my todo items for today, as I tried to dig through emails that have piled up was to ask friends on the group psychotherapy list for good material for my daughter to read to find out more about alternative therapies.

So, I’ve read through a bunch of emails, I have many more to go. Let’s see what the folks on the Group Psychotherapy list have to say.

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