Thursday, June 14, 2007

Living in a Virtual World

Jack Myers has always been a good friend of Lovemarks. He was one of the people who got it straight away. Like me, he believes that emotion will be the driving force of this century rather than twentieth-century rationality. That’s why, when Jack writes a book, I sit up and take notice. His latest is Virtual Worlds: Rewiring Your Emotional Future and it’s a fascinating deep dive into how these virtual worlds are changing the emotional DNA of future generations. Jack is an optimist and he believes our emotional range is expanding as people participate in a new world of community and identity. I often quote the brain guru, Donald Calne, who tells us that reason leads to people drawing conclusions, while emotion compels them to take action. Jack would agree and he takes the argument right into the heart of the virtual realm. Jack points out that virtual worlds are different because they empower emotions and reward emotional connections. He predicts that the generations born in the twenty-first century will demote the brain from its position of dictatorial power over emotional well-being.

This is heady stuff for anyone trying to attract people to their ideas and images and also to their stores and entertainment. Underlying Jack’s entire argument is his conviction that we are in a "don’t sell me, engage me” environment. I’ve called the same thing the Attraction Economy. In virtual worlds, success depends on what you bring to it; on participation and contribution. In places like Second Life, MySpace and Facebook, the creators keep their own intellectual property so they have a different kind of personal commitment. No wonder these virtual worlds are proving controversial as questions around commercialization and safety increase. A couple of years ago in my book Sisomo: The Future On Screen, I commented on the emotional potential of the screen. Jack has taken the emotions deep into the virtual world. Join him and also check out his storytelling project here. A community creating a virtual world. Take a peak into the future.