One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Get a (second) life

An editorial from last week’s Guardian takes on the question of whether the behavior of “avatars” in virtual reality worlds such as Second Life can encroach too much on individuals’ real lives.  This is the question that the editorial poses:

So should journalists criticise those who immerse themselves in Second Life, where players can adopt a new identity and move around in a computer-generated world – and where, it was reported this week, an affair between two fictional characters led to a divorce in the real world?

secondlifeThe editorial proceeds to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of immersing oneself in Second Life.  This is all well and good, and The Guardian‘s editorial board is free to conclude, as it does, that “technology inevitably falls short of its social promises” and that folks should pay more attention to their real lives than to their second ones.

My question, however, is why The Guardian asked specifically whether journalists should criticize criticise Second Life users.  If this is just because those writing the editorial are journalists, who can therefore only account for their own opinions as such, then this is merely redundant.  Every editorial — and article — is written by journalists, yet few clarify (or generalize, really) that the position being taken is one that journalists as a class should espouse.

If the question is truly being asked only of journalists, then this seems an unfair abrogation of the standards of objective journalism.  If journalists even need to ask whether they should instinctively criticize some subject or another, then it seems to be demonstrating a preconceived bias that has no place in objective reporting.  Now that a Guardian editorial has concluded that Second Life users can legitimately be told to turn off their computers and go back to their real lives, does that give journalists everywhere carte blanche to heap scorn upon avatars?

(image from flickr user Torley under a Creative Commons license)


November 24, 2008 - Posted by | media |

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