The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh...
This is the final installment in my trilogy about Second Life (SL) that I’m writing as part of my first anniversary celebration of blogging about SL. My first blog was a look back on my first year inworld. The next was about how I write my blogs. The third will take a more forwarding looking view.
One interesting aspect of SL that I’ve noticed about many residents is about their behaviors. First, how many do things in SL they would never do in Real Life (RL)? Then, there are those who do in SL what they do in RL but go over the top while they’re doing it.
All of them are pushing the edges of the envelope inworld as regards what they’re comfortable doing with others. Myself, as I’ve reported in recent blogs, I’ve been nude at several functions and have been visiting BSDM clubs inworld. (Trust me, I haven’t the nerve to do any of these in RL. Plus, Significant Other has major input into my social life and acquaintances.)
While I’ve been inworld observing these happenings, I’ve been wondering why do people do this? Act in a manner in a virtual world that they wouldn’t in reality. I’ve come to a few conclusions. (Warning this is an unscientific survey and definitely reflects the author’s prejudices and biases.)
First, I believe people act out because of curiosity or a desire to experiment. What is it like? How do I feel? Is it fun? Do I receive any satisfaction (whether emotional or physical) from this activity?
Then, there’s the anonymity. No one knows who I am. There’s no come back to me.
Next up is the relative safety and risk free aspects of whatever it is that I’m doing. There won’t be physical repercussions. Relationships won’t crater (at least they shouldn’t). Unwanted pregnancies and STD’s won’t occur. I don’t tire or become injured when I overdue it.
Now, some may ask, what about me, why do I push the edges of the envelope. My two favorite excuses, er, I mean reasons, are professional curiosity and anonymity. The former because my excuse is I’m searching for stories for my readers. (Don’t you feel guilty now?) The latter because I don’t have to worry about my friends and family plastering images of me all over the Internet.
So, what kinds of edgy behavior are folks engaging in while inworld? Frankly, there’s a lot. Let’s just look at the highlights.
Relationships are one area where many push the edges of the envelope. Some have SL partners who are not their RL partners. Sometimes the RL partners know, sometimes they don’t. (The last is definitely the edgiest.) The partners may act as romantic partners. Some go so far as to have children together. These partnerships may opposite sex or same sex. I’ve met many inworld who experiment with bi or gay relationships but are straight in RL.
Then there’s the perennial favorite of sexual activity. Cyber sex is for me, by definition, pushing the edges of the envelope. Somebody’s using all those pose balls lying around all over inworld. Going further, there’s group sex and BDSM. I’ve heard rumors of residents having in flagrante delicto in places they shouldn’t. And, I can’t forget all the strippers, pole dancers, and escorts who are out there. Not to mention all the shops selling sex organs for avatars.
OK, enough with the sex, there’s serious partying going on inworld just about all the time. Folks just go out on the dance floor and dance and dance… Well, you get the idea.
Next, one of my favorite topics in SL, exploring. Now, some may say how can SL exploring be edgy. Just remember, this is the guy who spent twenty-fours in SL. Enough said.
Some behaviors being pushed to the edge inworld are technical. Like my friend, Glorf Bulmer, who I think has built the tallest, free standing tower in SL. Wagner James Au recently wrote of a giant avatar built in mesh.
Another area where I’ve found residents have pushed the edges of the envelope inworld is the area of modeling. Some expend considerable effort, not to mention money, on clothes, skins, body parts for their avatars, and the list just goes on and on. Unlike myself and my juvenile efforts to make myself presentable inworld, others take their appearance very seriously. And, they have the Flickr folios to prove it.
Finally, and this one is not as much fun to write about, and that’s rude behavior inworld. (And, I’m not talking about griefing.) Some people think that when they go inworld they can just say whatever they want and do what they want. Two friends of mine, Glorf and Lindal Kidd, have recently written about their own experiences.
So to the future, what does all this mean for my readers and me? I want to continue to push the edges of the envelope as I go forward. I’ll meet some of the participants in these edgy behaviors, and try to either observe or participate myself. (I see trouble coming.) And, of course, I’ll report back to all my readers what I find (and whatever trouble I get into).
Please come back and check in!
As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.