Saturday, July 6, 2013

What Second Life Means to Me

In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away. 

Shing Xiong

               I’ve been thinking again.
          Yes, as Significant Other continually reminds me this is always dangerous, even in Real Life (RL) and not just in Second Life (SL). 
          The question is where all this could lead to and not whether or not I have too much time on my hands. 
          I’ve been thinking about what SL means to me. 
          After over two years of traveling across the Grid, meeting new friends, and having new experiences, I’m stopping to think about what SL means to me.  (Don’t laugh, I’ve talked with many of you inworld and I know you’re having similar thoughts.) 
          At the most basic level, SL means three things to me.  First, a sense of community among residents.  People are coming together inworld for a variety of reasons, fashion, music, BDSM, or just hanging  out.  They are serious about these interests and they enjoy meeting others of similar inclinations and sharing whatever it is they have. 
          Next is friendship.  People tend to meet up with other people whose company they enjoy for whatever reason.  I know I have friends inworld whom I enjoy meeting with regularly and heading out across the Grid together.  I confess to feeling good when I’m logged in and someone IM’s to just say hello and check in on how I’m doing.  Why would I feel any different about this inworld than I would in RL?  (As I’ve stated before many times, I do have friends and a social life in RL even if Significant Other requests that I keep them outside our home.) 
          Finally, there’s the feeling of never knowing what happens next inworld.  Starting from a very prim and conservative position, I now wander around nude and interview people about their BDSM practices.  Perryn Peterson can always be counted on for a new idea for a party and a hunt, and something different and new always seems to be around the next corner. 
          How did things change for me inworld?
          This was an interesting question for me.  My original premise coming inworld was to go walkabout.  I’d believed that the SL technology and the builds were the big stories.  Simple, right?  What did I know!
          What changed for me?
          Things inworld were more involved for me than I’d originally thought that they would be.  Instead of a bunch of geeks sitting around coding things and sending rockets to Mars, I found individuals in communities who were having a merry old time for themselves.  (Don’t get me wrong, the geeks are there and they are sending rockets to Mars, they just didn’t seem to be too interested in me.) 
          The individuals whom I interviewed became friends who brought me into their groups and before I knew it, I had a social life inworld.  Who knew?
          These groups went across a diversity of interests and I find I have to continually update my group list as I join new ones and have to delete old ones because of Linden Lab’s limit.  I’m a wanderer and explorer so tend to move along.  Sadly, some groups have just drifted away. 
          Why did my thinking change?
          Well, for one, I now realize that SL is not just about the technology.  Then, people are as complicated inworld as they are in RL. But, most importantly, people in SL are as good as they are in RL.  (I confess to being an unabashed believer in the ultimate goodness of humanity no matter how much we may screw up along the way.) 
          There were other factors as well which developed as I blogged.  Questions like whether or not SL is a game got me thinking initially.  Next came the question of friendship inworld.  People are more than just a bunch of pixels.  As I’m continually reminded as I wander about inworld, there are real people with real feelings behind all those avatars.  Not only that but people help people inworld.  When I temporarily lost access to SL last year (for technical reasons), people helped me stay in contact with others inworld.   After Hurricance Sandy, people reached out to me to see how I was doing.  Finally, I started thinking about our identities inworld (Maybe I do have too much time on my hands.)   Who are we inworld?  Really.  Does SL equate to RL?  Are our second lives an extension of our real lives? 
          Going forward what does SL mean to me?
          Community, friendship, and the unknown will always be part of my SL experience.  A sense of balance with RL is important as well. (Significant Other helps there considerably.)
          But, the SL experience will have to change going forward.  Mobility, a robust virtual economy, and social media will need to be part of the SL experience going forward.  For just as I rarely write letters to anyone in RL anymore, SL will need to add the tools that I use in RL with my social circle.  Otherwise, SL could become nothing more than a fond memory that I’ve outgrown.                 
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. 

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