Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Holidays Are Coming to Second Life or Are They?

I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays.

Henny Youngman

          I hope I haven’t seemed too self-absorbed lately.
          My last two posts to this blog have been about life and living in Second Life (SL).   Why?  Don’t worry I’ll avoid the snarky reply of “because it’s my blog”.  But I have been engaged in a bit of navel gazing as of late (Significant Other smiles and says why should SL be any different from Real Life (RL).) and this story may be in the same vein.  (Spoiler alert!)
          So, back to the question, why? Maybe, and this may sound lame, it’s because the end of the year seems to be approaching too quickly again and with that the Holidays. 
          For me as an American, that means I’ve just gotten past Halloween and Thanksgiving is staring me in the face and Christmas is not too far behind and how did Hanukkah sneak up right after Thanksgiving this year?  (Why can’t all holidays stay in one place and play nice like July 4th does? BTW, be warned, this story is going to have a very strong American, NYC bent to it.  I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam as Popeye would say.)    
          I’m sitting here, immersed inworld, thinking big thoughts about the convergence of SL and RL, and just over the horizon is the oncoming freight train of the yearend Holidays. 
          In RL, this means getting together with family and friends, turkey (especially the drumsticks), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (Yes, I am a sucker for sentimentality.), shopping, gift giving, and everything else that the Holidays represent to us in our late consumerist society.  And, in case, you’re wondering, I’ll be charging off at midnight on Thanksgiving to hit the stores.  (Don’t worry, I’m only there as an observer.  Online shopping and gift cards have been a godsend for me. Did I say that I was a traditionalist?)
          Back to SL.  Do we experience all this inworld?  Do we have holidays in SL? At one level we do.  My good friend, Perryn Peterson, hasn’t met a holiday he doesn’t like and can’t pull a legs up social event around inworld.   
          But are we really having holidays inworld?  If Perryn and his merry band weren’t there, would we be celebrating inworld? 
          Yes, I know, if we wander through SL, we’ll come across any number of sims that have Christmas trees, lights, Yule logs, and a Santa Claus somewhere.  But, that’s like the department stores that trot out their decorations every year.  For me, this is the virtual equivalent of kissing your sister. 
          I think what I’m getting at here is along the lines of what comes first the chicken or the egg. (This is where Significant Other’s eyes roll and I’m reminded of Freud’s old dictum that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  But, I digress.)  Would we have holidays inworld except for the efforts of a few? 
          Granted that many are too busy with their own RL lives to go carousing inworld during the Holidays but do we, can we truly experience the Holidays inworld?  Some might ask if we even should.
          Are we merely mimicking our RL Holiday traditions inworld or are we actually engaging in community activities which have a life of their own?  Of course, one might argue that a party is a party and to just get on with it.  But, there’s more to it than just that.
          Traditions and oral histories are important part of communities and pass down from one generation to the next.  There are minor changes along the way.  (Like, thankfully, eggnog seems to be going away along with the unfortunate demise of mince pie.)  But, they are self-sustaining. 
          A few times in my blog, I’ve talked about SL’s long term viability.  Whether it can be something more than just a cyber haunt for those lost in the Metaverse or can it become something more.  Celebrations and festivities will need to be part of that, IMHO.  RL holidays needn’t be brought over, SL could evolve its own. 
          I hope I haven’t gotten too heavy as the Holidays approach us but I like to call out what I see as anomalies from time to time because they will be important to those of us who reside inworld and want to see SL live up to its promise. 
          I’ll be wandering around inworld as the Holiday season approaches this year and will report back on the festivities.  If you’re sponsoring or participating in any Holiday functions as we approach the New Year then please give me a shout out and I’ll do my best to join you!  (Or, if you don’t want me hanging around then either tell me outright or don’t tell me about your fun stuff.)
          Happy Thanksgiving! 
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.    
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here. 

1 comment:

May O. Mingzi said...

Well, holidays are about giving as much as shopping and partying in both worlds. Many people take the winter holiday season as a time to do charity work. In SL, the Relay for Life - which converts Linden donations into U.S. dollars for the American Cancer Society - will be hosting its third Christmas Expo December 5-15. More than 50 SL store owners will be participating (disclosure: I am one of the vendors), donating the proceeds of many of their items to RFL. It's a good way to combine people's love of shopping and gift-giving in SL with doing good in RL. So, if we are carrying over traditions from RL, that's fine by me!