Today was a particularly emotional day for lots of people from around the world. However most of us don't have the luxury of sharing those emotions and thoughts in the middle of a workday with our friends and family. So virtual spaces like Second Life serve a potentially important role in providing emotional outlets and support for people on days like September 11.
I checked in briefly on the memorial service going on in New York NYC sim (click here to teleport). What I experienced reminded me again of what a special place Second Life is.
UPDATE 9/11/10: For those looking for commemorative activities happening in Second Life today, September 11, 2010, please see this post for more info.
There were 70-80 other avatars present, beaming in from who knows where. Several friends of mine were there, who I exchanged greetings with. Most folks sat on the grass in respectful silence, restricting communication to instant messages. A couple of avatars in soldier's uniforms stood at attention.
Believe it or not, it means a lot for a bunch of avatars to sit in silence. It just never happens, unless they are camping.*
On the audio stream, starting at 8:45AM EST (when the first tower was hit) and for several hours afterwards, the names of all the victims of 9/11 were read out by various members of the Second Life community via pre-loaded audio. Soft music played in the background. You could hear people's voices breaking in the midst of reading the seemingly endless list of those lost.
A pale, ghostlike replica of the towers rose into the sky.
It was suprisingly affecting to me, for the few minutes on the workday that I was able to be there. Then I logged out and got done the important work that needed to get finished today.
Later, I stopped by the incredible World Trade Center sim, a gigantic and mournful memorial to all those lost designed by Liam Kanno. A few dozen avatars were there as well, many in formal dress.
Obviously being at a virtual memorial is not the same as being at the actual site of the World Trade Center, participating in the real world commemoration. But for many around the United States and around the world it is as close as they can get without actually flying there. In some ways, it's better because it allows for you to be together with friends and family from around the world, exchange messages, converse using your voice, feel their presence around you. You are spared the hub-bub and the media frenzy, able to reflect and remember on your own in the quiet of your heart.
And now back to work, supporting the next generation of global leaders who I hope can build a better world.
*NOTE: For visitors from Gothamist.com and other non Second Life people reading this. "Camping" in this instance does not refer to the act of hitching your tent and getting to be one with nature. It in fact refers to a common practice in Second Life of sitting in a virtual chair to earn a miniscule amount of Linden Dollars, the currency of Second Life. Apologies for any misconception.