They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidents and things.
They don’t realize there’s this, like, Lattice of Coincidence that lays on top of everything.”
That’s a quote from the movie Repo Man.
And while it may be the ramblings of a character who did way too much acid in the 60’s, I think it has a deeper meaning in Virtual Worlds.
When we use virtual worlds, we are thrown into environments of seemingly limitless creative possibilities. And these environments are full of other human beings.
We meet other people in these worlds. We communicate with them. We connect and collaborate. And through these interactions, we share our dreams.
But if you’ve ever spent a fair amount of time in virtual worlds, I bet you’ve experienced something else. Something that probably raised the hairs on the back of your neck a little bit. Something spooky.
An Abundance of Synchronicity.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. Meeting the right person at the right time. Stumbling on a project that dovetails perfectly with your own goals. Finding something you’ve never experienced before, and that something turning out to be what you’ve always been looking for.
Such synchronistic events happen all the time in one’s life. But I’m willing to bet you’ve noticed that they seem to happen a lot more often in virtual worlds.
I spend a lot of time talking with people who use virtual worlds on a daily basis, and a large number of them share this same observation.
So what the hell is going on?
I’ve got lots of anecdotes about synchronicity in virtual worlds. And, unfortunately, the plural of anecdote is not data. But anecdotal evidence can suggest new hypotheses. So I’m going to make a new hypothesis.
I think there is clear anecdotal evidence suggesting that synchronistic events happen at a higher frequency in virtual worlds than in real life. And I hypothesize that the mechanism behind this amplified frequency of sychronicity is as follows:
The unique malleability of objects, identity and environments in Virtual Worlds gives us the ability to more deeply reflect and share our unconscious mind with other human beings.
Jung described synchronicity as “meaningful coincidence.” He argued that synchronistic events reveal an underlying pattern, a conceptual framework that encompasses, but is larger than, any of the systems that display that sychronicity. It was this principle that Jung felt gave evidence for his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious.
Our unconscious mind contains all our innermost hopes, dreams and desires. Because of the malleable nature of virtual worlds, our unconscious mind is free to express itself in completely new ways. Through how we customize our identity with avatars. Through the things we build out of thin air. Through amazing acts of creation at the speed of thought.
And while we’re sculpting ourselves and everything around us in virtual worlds, our unconscious mind is reflected in our virtual creations. In creations the likes of which could never exist in the physical world.
But we’re not alone. The virtual world is full of other people. They experience the things we’ve built. They see our avatars in all their marvelousness. They bear witness to all our virtual creations. And in doing so, their unconscious minds pick up the finespun threads of ideas left by our unconscious mind.
Ideas bubble up and connections are made without us consciously noticing they are happening. And before you know it, we find ourselves experiencing brilliant moments of synchronicity at every turn.
And the funniest thing is, we think “Wow, that opportunity came out of nowhere.” But it didn’t. Our mind cultivated it with other minds. We just didn’t notice.
That’s what the hell I think is happening.
All this reminds us how we can never forget those qualities that make us most human (as I blogged about earlier). By thinking carefully about how our human mind works (both consciously and unconsciously) and by figuring out how our minds can best leverage the tools in virtual worlds, we can unlock completely new human potential.
So enjoy your ride on the Lattice of Coincidence. You’ll be amazed at the adventures and opportunities waiting for you.
-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Special thanks to Wizard Gynoid, who commented on a previous blog post of mine, planting the seeds for this one.