Let me start with a confession. I do not hate Shopping Cart Disco’s SL Secrets. From sociology and evolutionary psychology, I understand the role of gossip in defining community norms and values. It is possible that anonymity allows more viciousness than we might see in first life, but given the many stories about young people driven to suicide by online harassment on Facebook® and Twitter® coming from non-anonymous classmates, I think that anonymity is a smaller factor than we might think.
Sometimes the secrets make me think, sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they surprise me. Secrets often spark discussions on Plurk® and I suppose they do on other social media as well. Sometimes I agree with the secret-makers, sometimes I do not. One thing most secret-makers have in common is an idea of how the world should be and they want us all to know it is out of alignment with their standards.
Today a secret maker repeated the all too common “Get a real life” mantra that always seems so ironic coming from someone whose emotional investment is Second Life® is so powerful they are compelled to create anonymous secrets to share their opinions. This time, the “Get a real life” message included an insinuation that purchasing from SL creators could be contributing to their mental illness by promoting an attachment to this second life over their first life.
I think the secret maker is wrong on all levels – because while our first and second lives are distinct and often separate, they are both real.
Before you schedule a commitment hearing, let me explain. I am aware of the differences between my first and second lives. For one, my first life wardrobe is less than a tenth my second life wardrobe. It is also much more difficult to braid my hair perfectly, my lipstick fades during the course of the day and my linen dresses wrinkle when I sit. Let’s not even mention coffee stains! I also do not know how to surf in my first life. My first life cat poops while my second life kitty does not, so there’s that as well. So disappointing!
Of course, petting my first life cat, I can feel his soft fur and the rumble of his purring. When my first life friends give me a hug, I can feel their warmth and strength. When I have grapefruit in first life, the tart and tangy juice explodes in my mouth and I can smell the bright citrus notes of the zest. My first life blankest are soft and cuddly and comforting. These are real differences, but the differences do not make one life unreal and the other real.
I also am not arguing that our first lives should be sacrificed to our second lives. I know that there are people who become so immersed in their second lives that their first lives suffer and that can be horrific.
However, creators who make money in SL use it to pay real bills. People who make friends in SL make real friends. Gidge and I will be friends when Second Life is a memory. When Squinternet died last September, I cried real tears and so did many others. The people who are supporting Munchflower’s struggle with Ehlers Danlos are showing real love, real friendship and sending real money. Our avatars may be unreal, but our friendships and our community is very real, indeed. For creators, whose income is dependent on SL, this is also very real in terms of first life skills and career as David Thomas Scorbal explains here.
Of course, that may not be true for the secret-maker. Many people withhold friendship and insist this is just a game. For them, it may be just a game and that is their loss. The richness and wonder of Second Life is not based on beautiful sims and gorgeous avatars with perfect hair and clothes, but on the ability to bring people together from all over to find each other and find friendship and community.
It reminds me of one of the people I met during my first month in SL. He was very insistent that SL was just a game and meant nothing to him. He was dating another resident who loved him but was often hurt by his lack of commitment – because it’s just a game. Then she died in a car accident. His loss was more painful, I think, because he had refused to recognize how real their love was. He spiraled out of control for a while, with first life consequences. Perhaps if he had recognized that his second life was real, not just a game, he would not have been so overturned by this tragedy because he would have the comfort of having been honest with her in their second lives.
I do not know. What I do know is this. There are people I love in my second life and that love is as strong as the love I feel for people in my first life. I have friends in my second life that are are real and true as my friends in my first life. And those emotions are real.
Store info at Blogging Second Life
Poses: Behavior Body
Skin: ::JOLI:: Lucie Skin-Pale-Bare-Red Brows @ Skin Fair
Tattoos: ::JOLI:: Lucie Lipgloss-04@ Skin Fair
Eyes: [UMEBOSHI] Eon eyes Duo Green (med)
Mani/Pedi: SLink Mesh Hands & Feet with A&A man/pedii applier (Appliers at A&S 6th Birthday)
Hair: /Wasabi Pills/ Sandy Mesh Hair – Rouge @ Fameshed
Clothing: Adore and Abhor +>A&A<+ Princess Dress (S) – Blue/Pink @ A&A Birthday
Shoes: ::HH:: Hucci Uvol Sling Back – 21 @ 21 Shoe event
Scarlet Creative Mountain Lodge Mesh House @ The Arcade
[LeeZu!] Sophia Sideboard Clouds @ The Arcade
-tres blah- Spring Living – Roses RARE @ The Arcade
-tres blah- Kitchen Basics – Coffee Pot 1 @ Dec. The Arcade (December)
[*Art Dummy!] nourish. (grapefruit) @ Dec. The Arcade (December)
The Secret Store – Wild Flowers – Bouquet/Daisies @ The Arcade
Trompe Loeil – Ribbon Table White Wood Collabor88 last year
I so appreciate your comments, Cajsa. RL and SL are both very real…and my experiences in both are important to me. Friends in SL have helped me to cope with the results of an accident and some bad storms by their sweetness and genuine smiles…I could not do what I can now without their encouragement. They and my RL friends and family are precious to me. I have rediscovered my art and writing in SL and those are lovely lifelines.
Thank you for expressing these thoughts so eloquently in your post. Thank you for all you do to make SL the lovely and meaningful world it is.
Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, by opening ourselves up to friendship in our second lives, we can make both our lives much richer, I think.
I was watching an anime recently that had an ongoing theme of “even if it isn’t real, it has consequences to who we are as people,” and I think that’s something that is very true online and in Second Life – and in other games as well. We become comfortable with what we do, whether it is in so-called reality, or a virtual reality. There is, in fact, growing evidence that our brain doesn’t necessarily differentiate between thought, memory, and experience as firmly as I think many people would like to think.
Thanks! I agree that it has consequences, though I do think it’s real – at least in a two-dimensional way.