If you are looking to escape the constant chatter of politics, don’t look to Second Life to hide. In the guise of avatar Illyria Latte, I scoured the virtual community for political chatter, and I didn’t have to look far.
The political presence in SL is far from being static or passive. Just as they do among people in the real world, protests, debates and rallies spur political discourse among avatars. And, just as in real life, politicians–and politics in general–are a source of comedy and the butt of jokes.
Political satire at its finest in SL includes The Mike Huckabee Center for the Liberation and Housing of Spermatazoan-Americans and Faux Hillarious Whitehouse. Cloaked in avatar form, people feel much more at ease to discuss political beliefs. Unfortunately, there was not much action when I teleported to these locations.
Setting up Official Candidate HQ and grassroots political organizations in SL is fairly inexpensive and has the potential to draw large crowds. (Think of the travel expenses saved!) SL is the perfect environment to target potential voters. The issues of concern in this virtual world differ from the main stream issues of the real world. Inside SL, the population is curious about candidate’s positions on child pornography, scamming, copyright infringement, gambling and video game regulation.
The Metaverse Journal interviewed the chairperson of the Hillary 2008 Group in SL, Padlurowncanoe Dibou, July 2007:
Lowell: So you believe candidates themselves believe it’s a valid campaigning tool?
PD: Yes, but you have to put into perspective how rapidly SL has grown. I came in-world in November, and the growth and interest in it has been truly amazing. But in some ways, it is the Wild West. Regulations, legal matters, etc. have a difficult time keeping abreast of emerging technologies. SL is providing an opportunity and a voice to the people
— sometimes people who don’t feel they have one in RL. It is also giving us an opportunity to evolve the old way of doing things.
The US is not the only election presence in SL. All four major candidates in the most recent French election held campaign HQ in SL recognizing: “If they build a virtual headquarters in cyberspace, real people will come.”
SL will not be the deciding factor of the 2008 US Presidential Election, but may be the world of difference to sway undecided avatar votes.
US Presidential Election Presence in Second Life
- Ron Paul, Republican
Party in SL
Lauren Vargas is a public relations professional and college professor, relying on principles to survive and thrive in the social media evolution. Vargas is author of Communicators Anonymous.