Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"It's just life..."

Yesterday my friend and fellow blogger Diogenes Kuhr got something off her chest about the perception that Second Life residents have no "First Life." You can read it in its entirety here.

But since Blogger seems to have something against letting Mac users comment on other people's blogs, I'm posting my comments in my own blog. Which is probably for the best, because usually my responses end up meandering off course.

Dio's post got me thinking when she said that this time of year can be tough for SLers who visit family and try to explain this "other life" to them. "...and they kind of smile, while their eyes regard you with this mixture of pity, contempt and confusion. And maybe even fear." I had to laugh, because since I have a smallish family and live close to most of my relatives, I get that a lot myself all year round.

What it really got me contemplating, though, was the notion that this time of year actually proves what a wonderful platform SL is and its potentials.

For many people who don't have families, who don't have close relationships with their families, or can't afford to travel to see their families, this can be a lonely time of year.

Sure, in "real life" you can exchange phone calls, emails and Christmas cards with family and friends, but it's not the same as seeing them. The SL experience, however, gives you the next best thing.

Many folks spent Christmas *in* SL this year, having dinner, opening presents, leaving cookies and milk for Santa. They spent it with friends and family, some from SL and some even from RL. To me, that's the closest thing to "real" that you can get.

SL is also responsible for the happy Christmas an SL acquaintance of mine got this year. After marrying her SL partner in RL, thanks to help from her SL friends, she and her son were able to make the trip overseas to reunite with her husband. They were a day late for Christmas, but the three of them are now finally together as a family. What better gift could that be?

So while we may "live" in a pixelated world, there are flesh and blood people behind every one of those IP addresses that log on. It's really no different than texting or using Twitter or Facebook to communicate.

If anything, SL offers more intimate and meaningful interaction than those communication services, because it not only happens in real time, it also provides a rich visual experience and a deeper context to the communication.

You may not be seeing the "real" physical person via a webcam or photograph, but through an avatar, what you *do* see is even more revealing about a person. The avatar is a virtual manifestation of how we really see ourselves, deep down, and how we would like others to see us.

Yes, there are plenty of ethically challenged and morally bankrupt dickheads in SL, and at times it can be a struggle, without benefit of body language, to accurately interpret whether someone is trying to insult you or is being sarcastic. For the most part, however, Second Life is really just an enhancement of our "First Life." A "Second Home," as it were.

I know I feel the richer for having moved in.

1 comment:

Merryann Munster said...

That was lovely, Astolat. Thank you for sharing such a warm and gracious post.