I will confess I make a significant portion of my living on-line. I have a Facebook page for friends and a LinkedIn site for professional colleagues. I get many of my ideas for blog postings from newspapers, but I search for the latest information on-line. I spend less than 3 hours per week in causal web interactions, including the time to write weekly postings for two different blogs. With that confession:
"You want your actual life back? Sign out." Those are two of the scrolling headlines on an exciting new web site.
Web 2.0 Suicide Machine.org
As a recommendation to check it out, Facebook has banned their access to Facebook.
The premise of the organization is to gain back your pre-web lives and as another quote suggests "actually meet your neighbors." The owners of the site make the claim that it takes more than 9 hours to manually remove yourself from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other "social networking" sites. To see and hear the full NPR story on Machine Suicide try: "Erase your virtual life".
One beautiful things about posting a blog, is the ability to point out connections. Just a week or so ago USA Today had a story about sales of "goods" in the virtual world. If you are unfamiliar with (as I was) of sites like Second Life its seems that people create avatars who are their alter egos and then build a fantasy life. Others in second life create goods and services for avatars, and real cash is exchanged for those Prada Like shoes that your avatar wears. Aside: I wonder if counterfeiting that Gucci Bag on Second Life will get you time in the virtual slammer?
For the full story see Unlike reality, virtual retail sales are hot, especially for avatars. Here are some excerpts that provide story color.
LaWanda Johnson loves buying virtual jewelry gifts for her online avatar friends and beams with pride when she sees them wearing necklaces she bought. Johnson, who is on disability in the real world, can be far more generous in the mobile social and gaming community Cellufun, where she can spend less than $1 or earn credits to buy for others, create a wardrobe and decorate her "home" for Christmas. The attraction of that proposition has made avatar fashion and possessions including most everything you'd buy or want in the terrestrial world must-haves for millions of people who play games on Facebook or dabble in virtual worlds such as Cellufun or Second Life.
"Virtual goods cost a fraction of what goods cost in the real world," Kingdon says. "You can get a beautiful pair of white ice skates for … less than $2."
Still, virtual commerce can be confounding to non-participants. From pets to pretty eyes, everything's for virtual sale. Sure, if you're OK with a dressed-down avatar with no stuff, you can play without paying in most worlds or games. But, hey, this is America, and everyone's keeping up with the virtual Joneses.
I am certain that if we all committed virtual world suicide, when we get up and look over the top of the monitor, we might find there is a great deal to see, learn and do. I do not denigrate those with a real need to "connect" through virtual reality such as Ms. Johnson, but I am pretty sure there are tens of thousands of individual web denizens who have become lost in the Internet and who have forgotten the value of real relationships, and real service to others. I humbly suggest that some of the time spent on line by the lost, might be used in face to face interactions with shut-ins and disabled. Meals for Wheels comes to mind. Simply asking the elderly neighbor lady if she would sit on the porch and chat with you occasionally. See that as a privilege not a duty, and it really becomes something of value.
There is an on line gaming community called The Mafia Boss.com where you don't have to you can just rub out others. Below is the lead in from the Mafia Boss website:
Enter the The Mafia Boss World, where you will become a boss of a crime gang. You have the choice to collect money from your casinos, whorehouses, loan sharks and gambling dens. You could also produce drugs, liquor and Counterfeit money. You will use bribes, and minor crimes during your daily routine. You will embark in street wars against other gangsters for control. You can bring your gang forth to join a Crime Family with a well structured hierarchy or even form your own Crime Family. The options are endless under a proven business logic with extra scope for illegal businesses and use your legal businesses to clear out the money.
Anyway here goes the suggested connection:
Suicide Machine.org merges with The Mafia Boss and takes over Second Life. If you want you put out a contract on yourself, someone else gets to "rub you out" for pay (sort of virtual suicide by proxy). You can rub out those avatars you hate or who "disrespect" you or hire some else to kill them off. A virtual "Hit Man". How about "protection" fees for the local Crime Boss. The ideas are endless. New super heroes emerge, and a Rudy Guiliani avatar.
The idea of a $1Billion plus market for virtual stuff for you avatar deserves a whole posting for itself. $3 Billion will feed the hungry of the world.