It's tough being a politician in Second Life. Despite the allure of a fabulous new and PR-friendly marketing platform, it's not quite the controlled environment they are used to, where policemen and security guards swiftly can be called in to deal with 'undesired elements'. Hell, it's unlike any other environment most politicians are used to, and many have found that 'interacting with digitial users' didn't take on quite the form they had bargained for:
At the start of this week, The Guardian reported how 'Italians seeking respite in cyberspace from the surreal world of Italian politics were fighting plans by a minister to build a campaign headquarters in there.' A more unpleasant surprise awaited US Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards at the start of last week, when his Second Life HQ was vandalized by Republican Second Lifers and haunted by a feces spewing obscenity. Then of course there's was Le Pen's brand new HQ in the virtual world that was bombarded with flying pigs a while back (still, it must have compared quite favourably to Le Pen's frequent experiences of being bombarded with rotten eggs in real life).
"This is the modern-day equivalent of hippies freaking out the squares. You see countless news stories about this, over and over again: the gray humourless drones of political parties or corporations rushing to establish a presence in Second Life because it's the thing to do, only to find themselves staring directly into the collective Goatse.cx of the Internet's soul," wrote John Brownlee in Wired's Table of Malcontents, but one of his readers put it more bluntly in the comments:
"The way I look at it is that political idiots entered a realm that they do not and care not to understand. This would be like jumping in to World of Warcraft and expecting people to care about your political agenda... we just don't care."
Of course, politicians are neither the only ones, nor the first, who have met with 'violet' protests in this virtual world. CNET takes a closer look at Second Life 'grassroot activism' here.