Religion,’ Marx wrote, ‘is indeed the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself or has already lost himself again … It is the fantastic realisation of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality.

‘The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.”

The parallels with Second Life are plentiful. Sure, at one level, this virtual reality world is harmless fun, no different in principle from any other form of the escapism in which all of us sometimes indulge.

Unlike religion, Second Life isn’t even accompanied a more or less intellectually rigorous belief system with the ability to inspire both the better and the baser human instincts. These days, it looks like even alienation has to be dumbed down for mass consumption. [link]

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