Oh the virtual humanity. The economy in Second Life—the online world where users, known as avatars, can spend actual money on real estate and clothing— is in turmoil :

“I am quite amazed that lots of businesses in Second Life still push for higher prices when so many people in the real world are losing their jobs,” Second Life avatar Janey Bracken said.

“As Second Life expands with so many new people coming in lately, you wonder if less people will actually be bringing money into the virtual world, as it’s going to be way down on the list of real-life expenditure as the credit crunch tightens.”

iReporter Wil Perian interviewed other Second Life residents on the changes they were seeing. “As the real life economy is a bit more unstable, Second Life will be a bit more stable,” said Czari Zenovka, a business owner in Second Life. “One dollar goes a lot farther in Second Life than real life.” . . .

He’s right. I can buy fourteen hamburgers in Second Life for the price of one in the real world. It’s such a great deal I can almost taste them.

Jojogirl Bailey, another avatar business owner, told Perian, “I really think it is affecting folks who were spending large amounts of real money to fund their Second Life stuff.”

I would hope so.

Despite these challenges, most of the iReporters and interviewees in Second Life are hopeful for the future. As Perian says, “The economy continues to go down and rarely do we hear some positive news. Perhaps it is Second Life that is giving us that bit of hope.”

Hope. In a virtual world. You can’t make this stuff up.

Articles by Ryan Sayre Patrico

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