Including big corporations.
Many people with more money than sense gladly waste $295 a month buying real estate that doesn't exist. What an opportunity for those of us who have bridges connecting strategic parts of New York City for sale!
You invent an avatar, a synthetic you that's younger, taller, thinner and better looking than you are and allow this non-existent creature to live a fantasy life. You buy it clothes. You send it on trips. You teach it to ski. To speak Urdu. The possibilities are endless. And pointless.
Corporate America has stampeded into Second Life. Companies--ranging from the NBA and Sun Microsystems to Nissan and Reuters--have set up their own elaborate islands. Coldwell Banker, for instance, has an in-world headquarters where they rent virtual houses. Some companies have been more imaginative in their approach.
IBM has a massive, in-world corporate headquarters which spreads over multiple islands. Fortune reported in January that 3,000 IBM employees had created avatars (including CEO Sam Palmisano) and that 300 of them were "routinely conducting company business" inside Second Life.
I hope corporations are not wasting their money and their employees' time, which we, the stockholders, are paying for, living lives that don't exist. At least the Brooklyn Bridge, even if I don't own it, does exist. You can drive a car over it, for instance. Try getting into your car and driving over a non-existent or virtual bridge. I will give $1,000 to anyone who actually does it. I will donate another $1,000 to anyone who manages to get his avatar to perform his job--let's say as a flagger for a construction company--while he himself stays home watching tv in his underwear and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The Weekly Standard actually has a long article on this kind of tosh, the 21st century equivalent of a pet rock. I can't believe they would waste valuable space which they could dedicate to, I don't know, interviewing Fred Thompson.
I keep thinking of my bubbe, who would have called this narishkeit (stupidity). Or mishugas (craziness). Bubbe knew that real life was hard enough for a person; you don't need an imitation one.