Melanie Kidd was the first blogger I ever met. I was a newly minted Second Lifer and was dating someone who made custom surfboards as well as swimsuits and rash guards and she blogged his store several times. I was there when she came to check out his store and then I started reading her blog, Grid Expectations. I just knew she was smart, clever and funny because of that name. She did a blog post on Baiastice that bankrupted me and started me on my long love affair with that clothing line and my eventual friendship with Sissy Pessoa. She did another post on Subtle Facial Expressions that I still go back to again and again. I got to know her better when I joined Plurk®. She was unfailingly kind and compassionate, a person who focused on others.
She died this week. Cancer, of course. This is the summer of cancer. Cancer has taken six friends since May and is haunting other friends and family.
I do not want to exaggerate my loss. We were not close, intimate friends. We were friendly, a casual friendship like 90% of friendships. But still my heart breaks, for the world that has lost another of the good ones, for Gogo, Cake and Carson, her closest friends whose hearts must be shattered, and for her family who has been robbed of her joyful, sunny spirit. Maybe a little bit for myself, too, because I liked her, damn it.
Lots of pixel ink has been used to debate whether Second Life® is a game or not. Is it a game if it breaks your heart?
Second Life’s motto is “Your Life. Your imagination.” I guess that answers the question of whether it is a game for me. If a game is the limit of your imagination, that is what it is —for you. For me, I wonder whether it is even a “second” life. Isn’t it more of a complement to or extension of our first lives than an alternate life?
I wonder, too, why we routinely contrast this “second” life with our “real” life? Are we less real in this world? What is unreal about friendship, love, and community? Are the tears we shed for our friends in this world less liquid, less salty, less painful?
No matter how different the digital presentation of an individual in SL may be from their physical manifestation in the non-digital world; their character remains the same. They have the same psychology, the same fears, the same hopes and the same habits of mind. If they are petty in their first life; they remain petty in their second. If they are open-hearted in the first; they are in their second.
I am not ignoring how Second Life frees people to be more open in expressing themselves because it leaves behind those impediments to self-fulfillment such as concerns about appearance, health, mobility and class. Actually, I think in many ways, we can express who we truly are even more completely in this world where our physical appearance is a facade. We can be free to be who we really are, our best, aspirational selves. You might even say we can be more real.
I have rambled far afield. I guess, for those who think this is TLDR, all I can say is that friendship is valuable and real wherever you find it. Treasure it.