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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

ARE THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 REACHING BEYOND THE PHYSICAL WORLD? – BROOKE BLACKBURN REPORTING…





A whole new world.
It’s a new world in this age of Covid-19 and for many of us, it’s been a life-altering. Living in the physical world in complete lockdowns only to travel out for food and emergencies has been tough on so many. How do we function as humans and have our intellectual and emotional needs met? How do we keep ourselves entertained and not go crazy from loneliness and boredom? This Pandemic has had one significant difference from past outbreaks … the internet. Life’s highway of information made from copper and silicon running to every corner of the world. For many, this is the only way they can communicate with others. Having to cut back to stretch every dollar these days has been difficult but keeping internet service running and that window to the outside world open has been a necessity for most.



Reaching for something different.
Staying inside and running out of Netflix shows to watch, many are turning to other forms of online entertainment. The ones who crave more than then endless Xbox or Playstation shooting and destruction are looking for something different, a little more meaningful. They find their way to Second Life. With everyone’s First Life sheltered in place, Second Life allows them to reach out and fulfill the experiences they’re missing. Going to a club and dancing to live music, heading out to an amusement park, or whatever entertainment you crave, these things have all been put on hold in the physical world but they can be lived out in Second Life.




Who’s benefiting?
At the root of every experience are the resources to make it worthwhile. Beyond the basic infrastructure that Linden Labs has provided, are the businesses that make Second Life function. These businesses provide members with anything from a mesh body and clothes to the venues we go dancing and listen to music. Are these businesses benefiting from the additional people who are logging in to Second Life on a daily basis? Linden Labs last statistical figures showed in a 24 hours period 30 to 45 thousand people log in to Second Life but they have stopped reporting this information over a year ago. It’s difficult to see if these numbers have increased due to the lack of transparency. Is Linden Labs hiding this information from business owners to cover up the truth about the online activity? Are businesses wondering what’s going to happen to their bottom line while fees go up and just being told life is fine? If they are left holding the bag, I can tell you one thing, just like casinos, the house will always win.


  
Businesses speak out.
I interviewed several businesses to see if their sales have actually increased since the onset of Covid-19 and the lockdown began. The results are very interesting. While most music and dance clubs have not seen a profit, they did indicate an increase in visitors to their clubs. Guru, the part-owner of The Merry Pranksters, told me they have not seen a profit but their increased customers are more from old accounts coming back to life then new memberships. Some club owners like Melodee McDonnell of SongBirds and JAdmiral Maelstrom of Eclipse, couldn’t give statically data because their clubs are too new for comparison but it may be a good sign that new businesses are opening.
Some stores have not seen any increase in business at all since the worldwide pandemic started. Widget, the owner of Sahi Furniture, told me she has a loyal group of repeat customers that get her through the tough summer months but has not seen any new member sales since Christmas. That is her busiest time of the year for her beautiful furniture creations.
Some of the largest clothing retailers were unavailable for comment but a surprising business has shown a significant increase in sales since the beginning of the year. Teegle, providers of fine horses and equestrian products, have seen a nearly 400% increase over last year’s sales, with a remarkable 50% going to new customers. Whether this trend will continue remains to be seen, let’s hope their sales continue an upward movement.







Why are people joining Second Life?
Everyone has their own story and reason for coming to SL, but I spoke with several new members at the welcoming platform to see if there was some common ground. I interviewed about 10 new members at random and with ages ranging from 2 days to 2 months. None of them were premium members and most are reluctant to spend any money. With the uncertainty of the economy in the physical world, they prefer to hang on to their hard-earned income for necessities then spend it here. The few who have purchased items have done so to improve their looks. What became evident to me very soon after interviewing them was that most came here to find a human connection. To find someone to talk to. To help overcome being shy, to be more extroverted, or to possibly make a romantic connection. As most of the world has been quarantined in their homes and in the bleakest of times, people still need to connect with others. To get the reassurance they’re not alone. People need to express themselves and feel loved. Joining gives them that outlet and the ability to reach out and see there are others just like themselves who find it enjoyable to spend time together. So if they find it fun to go shopping together, ride on a carousel next to one another or sit on a couch and just cuddle, I’m sure the Second Life business will be more than willing to provide them with the means to do so…  

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