Long before Mark Zuckerberg warmed our heads with the Metaverse – something that, as we now know, is destined not to happen at all in the near future – there was a game that served as a life simulator: Second Life promised at its 2003 launch that we would all end up living an alternative life inside its servers. Today, between 28,000 and 52,000 people, at its lowest and highest point, are still hooked twenty years later. But back in the day, everything promised to be very different.
I can and will promise
We are used to actors, characters and even celebrities appearing in ‘Fortnite‘ or ‘Call of Duty’ promoting themselves, but Second Life offered another possibility to celebrities: to be themselves. They could even set up entire political campaigns from their living room and influence the real world. On paper it was spectacular, and the governor of Virginia (in the United States), Mark Warner, was the first to decide to launch his group Forward Together and be interviewed within this proto-metaverse.
He literally got the whole world talking about him, and finally became a senator of the Democratic Party after failing in his attempt to run for the presidency of the United States. Not bad. Seeing the success that Warner had overseas, in Spain we also had a politician who thought that this was an opportunity to win the votes of young people: Gaspar Llamazares did not know what he was getting into.
The United Left candidate went into Second Life for a while. Nicolas Sarkozy or Ségolène Royal also tested the popularity of the digital world at that time. He was not even the first Spanish politician to get into this mess (it was the socialist Paloma Sáinz), but he was the one who dared to give a speech, an online mass bath so to speak. He was followed by 90 people, which his party hastened to say was equivalent to 10,000 in the real world. Right. Yes.
In the end, his avatar ended up burning a photo of the king and after the controversy and the little follow up they ended up getting off the bandwagon. Although, hey, maybe Llamazares still comes in from time to time to see how his house is between bits, now that the newspapers do not scrutinize every one of his decisions. Maybe in that second life he could have won. Who knows.
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