Okay, this one is a little weird. This is a picture of an island… a virtual one, to be precise, and according to this article on Yahoo, it just sold for $26,500 USD! The article states,

“That’s the amount David Storey, a 27-year-old graduate student living in Sydney, Australia, paid for a virtual island, the “Most valuable object that is virtual,” according to Guinness World Records.”

Uh… what?

The article is interesting to say the least (the dude is making a hundred grand a month from this purchase as people pay to get virtual hunters onto the island for virtual hunting), but it really gets to the crunchy part near the end:

“…For all the buzz around virtual goods, you might still wonder why people are willing to pay for things that don’t really exist. Susan Wu, founder of social games developer Ohai, says her game’s players use virtual goods as a form of communication and as decorations on their sites. Virtual goods can also help them win games. “It’s about relationship building, and things like rank and status,” Wu says. Castronova had perhaps the simplest explanation. “Why do people buy diamond earrings?” he says. “They are something that make you feel good.”

Why would people buy something that doesn’t exist?

Wait just a minute; the island does exist, framed ethereally by the shifting shadows of ego and desire and longing.

Sure, $26,500 is a bit steep for shadow puppets, but why did I go to see Avatar three times? That set me back sixteen bucks a pop (though my buddy paid for my third time out). Pandora doesn’t exist apart from a flickering light-show of pixels and sounds (sorry to break it to you).

What constitutes true existence will probably always be up for debate, but the real question isn’t about whether said island exists or not. It’s whether it matters.

An entrepreneur spent a bucketload of cash on a virtual island or a virtual necklace. And? We spend bucketloads of cash on things that don’t matter every single day without batting an eye, things that seem to matter because they’re framed ethereally by the shifting shadows of ego and desire and longing.

And honestly now… what’s the real world difference in eternity between things that don’t exist and things that don’t matter? In ten thousand years, they’ll be one and the same thing!

And not just virtually. Really.