Looking at the Real World Value of Virtual World Protests

August 31, 2009 -

Protests held in virtual spaces such as Second Life have real-world political value, according to international projects lobbysist Max Burns, who pens an op-ed for Foreign Policy in Focus.

Paying particular attention to SL demonstrations against the Iranian government's post-election crackdown against opponents of the Ahmadinejad regime, Burns writes:

The active Iranian protest community in Second Life is more than a curiosity, and downplaying the importance of virtual societies in our political and social lives... understates the power of synthetic worlds in creating viable social movements...

Authoritarian governments that repress real-world demonstrations have difficulty doing the same in the synthetic world. Virtual rallies are so hard to shut off because the mechanics of virtual protest are fluid...

Indeed, the efforts of real-world governments to restrict the Internet usage of virtual protesters appears to strengthen the rallies as the online community responds to what it views as an offense against expression. So, for instance, Second Life's virtual protests continued — and even increased in scale — after real-world Iranians started to mysteriously disappear from the synthetic world...


Comments

Re: Looking at the Real World Value of Virtual World ...

Great idea. Think about voicing your opinion, standing up for what you believe in, without the threat of violence.

Unfortunately, with every rally, regardless of the cause, there's always a threat of riots. A person can be peaceful and non-violent, but people are dumb, violent, dangerous creatures. You get a bunch of people together, and you get a mob. And a mob is only as smart as it's dumbest person.

But in Second Life, that threat is removed. Yes, you're still going to have those loud and foul mouthed idiots, but they're influence will be greatly reduced, and program doesn't allow for physical violent behavior.

I think this is a trend that can only prove benefitial as it grows.

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