One of my favourite books is a book called Synthetic Worlds by economist Edward Castronova. From an economists perspective he disects online gaming and its effect on society. I recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in online gaming. In one chapter he is discussing the first successful lawsuit in China where damages were awarded when a persons online inventory of items (virtual swords, armour etc.) were stolen. The game company was also forced to restore the persons account to the pre-theft state. A very interesting legal point of inflection, but it led me this line of thought:
What happens when everything that we ‘want’ (outside of food, water and shelter) exist in a virtual world?
Think about it: most things we have now, we do not need. Video games have led the way but I propose that the concepts that social media are presenting are the next logical extension of this. Recognition, respect, a sense of ownership are all driving factors in the push to a communicatons-heavy and commodity light society.
Everyone is proclaiming historical advertising is dead, that community driven development is the new model for life and that we are “all bigger online” but are we missing the most fundimental shift of all: the things we have been raised and conditioned to want, the very things that pay the salaries of millions and people have died to get are now devalued and my level 7 vorpal sword…or expressing my opinion on pandas sneezing…or plan to make a better blog…is now worth 100 hours of my time on earth and those Nike sneakers are not. Why isn’t this paramount on everyone’s minds? Strange times indeed.