What is Second Life?

Second Life is an online virtual world created by Linden Labs. You move about in this world by means of an "avatar"—a virtual representation of yourself. In Second Life (SL) you can do pretty much anything that you can do in real life (RL)—explore, socialize, shop, run a business, take classes, attend cultural events, buy and sell "land", make things and build buildings—and you can also do things that you can't do in RL—fly, build floating buildings, turn yourself into an animal (or some other fantastic creature), and so on.

Almost all of Second Life's world is user-created. This means that it's a real mixed bag, content-wise. What you will see will run the gamut from the tasteless and aesthetically jarring to the exquisitely beautiful and astonishingly creative. Some large businesses and universities have a presence in SL and have done some amazing things.

Many religious people are active in SL, and among them Catholics are a strong presence. I have participated in a rosary group which met regularly in a beautiful garden chapel, attended compline in a re-creation of an ancient German church and had a cell in a peaceful virtual monastery. I've met and become friends with Catholics from other parts of the US and around the world.

One caveat, however: With very few exceptions, Linden Labs takes a fairly hands-off approach to what goes on in SL. So there are areas that are definitely not appropriate for children (or adults, for that matter), and you will inevitably accidentally bump into them from time to time until you get used to things. If you decide to explore SL with your children looking over your shoulder, keep that in mind.

A second caveat is that SL requires a lot of computing power and bandwidth. You need a fast computer and internet connection if you want to be able to play without banging your head against the wall (or perhaps even to play at all).

Having said all that, Second Life can be a great deal of fun and quite rewarding. If you are interested in playing, here is the link to their main website: