A little over a year ago, I explored the message of the Second Life medium at it relates to Marshall McLuhan's well known probe, "The medium is the message". A couple of days ago while contemplating Second Life's uncertain future, I realized that the medium I should have considered is the 3D Virtual World paradigm, rather than any particular instance. The future of avatarian existence is not in the hands of Linden Lab, or any other company or platform.
From the time an early human figured out she could use a stick to dig up insects to eat, people have been extending their biology through technology. From the phonetic alphabet to the digital computer, each new medium radically transformed human psychology and culture. I believe that the experience of avatar embodiment in 3D virtual worlds will eventually become as common and pervasive as today's use of cell phones and social networks.
Recent experiments have shown that the brain does not differentiate between virtual and physical experience. When avatar experience becomes as common as surfing the web, humans will be able to free themselves from fixed notions of identity that have fostered sexism, racism and other biologically-related oppression. Although I'm not sure of the path, I have a strong sense that it will also provide a means of spiritual transcendence. The quote in the image above from the gnostic "Gospel of Thomas" seems quite prophetic:
Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."(Today's Big Bad Blogger Challenge topic was "Blogger's Choice".)