IMVU is "the world's largest 3D Chat and Dress-Up community." Launched in 2004, Instant Messaging Virtual Universe is simple in concept: Combine the social networking power of IM chat with a 3D virtual "universe." Participants create elaborate new identities, called avatars, that give free rein to self-expression. As with other virtual communities, you can make friends among IMVU's millions of users. But IMVU is much more than a 3D chat room: it's a real simulated world (or the real world, simulated). You can design, make, buy, and sell things like clothes and accessories, earn credit in IMVU's virtual economy, and get noticed. It's a fun way to learn stuff like how to run a small business or market a product, too.
Signing up for IMVU is easy and starts with choosing a free avatar. There are nine each of male and female avatars to choose from, and you can choose from either set; on IMVU, you can't judge anyone or take anything for granted, and you have to interact with people to learn about them. The avatars are all young, attractive, and a bit edgy, but in different (and good) ways. To create a screen name and password, you'll have to provide some info, such as date of birth and a valid email address. There's also a security question to make sure you're not a machine. We're not going to bore you or amuse you with our personal exploits, except to say we're all noobs once. We had no problems whatsoever with IMVU's interface or with the people we met. But, like a lot of things, you have to experience IMVU to understand it. There's a lot to do and to learn, including a whole subculture. A Google image search will let you peep through IMVU's portal, if you're curious.
Social media users have more or less hidden behind avatars and screen names since the bulletin board days; IMVU simply takes it to new levels. It keeps growing because it's a look at things to come. That, and it's fun. It's not for everyone (yet) but it's free, so see it for yourself!