Do you know me?

May 31, 2010

I’m trying something new.  Most of the time when I’ve blogged, I’ve labored over my posts, wanting them to be just so.   This post, however, I’m giving myself only half an hour to write it; just getting my thoughts down and posting it for the world to see.  I’m giving this a try because my schedule isn’t giving me much time and I want to see if I can post something without making it an arduous process.

This morning I read a wonderful post by my friend Chestnut Rau that included some of her perspective on trust in SL.  As I read it, one of her key points was that trusting people enough to regularly let them in was something that didn’t come naturally to her.   I couldn’t help but read that and think about my own journeys of trust and intimacy in the virtual world.

Initially I likened the intimacy that comes with pseudonymity in SL to meeting a stranger on a plane.  You sit next to someone, exchange pleasantries, and sometimes you find a surprising conversation where people are divulging all sorts of details about themselves that you would have never imagined.  Then you get off the plane and never see each other again.

My first experiences in Second Life were similar to this; I met wonderful people and shared surprising nuggets of myself.  But then some funny things happened; I found that I got quite good at being an intimacy junkie, looking for a fix that comes with sharing something deep with other people.  I coupled this, however, with a unique ability to keep many people at an arm’s length that comes with having a virtual identity.  I found pseudononymous intimacy to be powerful but it was tempered by my own anxieties about too closely linking the atomic and digital worlds.  Yet as time wore on, like any junkie, I found the fix got harder and harder to satisfy.  I found myself getting less satisfaction from virtual intimacy and decided to start trusting and let down the veil of pseudonymity.

The gist of all this?  I’m not exactly like the people on the old American Express ads, but I have gotten to know quite a few people.  Yet like our first lives, we recognize that a much smaller circle of people are worthy of trust.  I’m glad I decided to trust people and move toward a deeper and more genuine intimacy.  The experience has undoubtedly made both my first and second lives richer.

But what is it for you, dear reader, have you found people you could trust to share intimately all of yourself in Second Life?



  1. Not In SL but on other sites i’ve trusted and gotten to know people that actually turned out to become friends also in RL 🙂

  2. When I first started SL, I was very closed about my RL. Any acquaintences (note the lack of the word “friend”) knew me for the class clown persona I put out. When I met Strawberry in SL we became close friends, but whether she realized it or not there was still a part of me I withheld from her.

    As time’s gone by in SL, I’ve opened up more about my RL to people I’ve met. But even more, my involvement in Plurk has broken down a lot of walls to my RL. In Plurk I primarily post about my “Domestic dykeness” and even post pics of myself and my Cheyenne.

    However… there is still a line that I somehow can’t find the strength to cross. The dirty little secret I’ve not admitted before to *anyone* is that I was so nervous about going to the live music event at the 2009 SLCC in San Francisco last August that I sat in my car in the parking lot of the BART train station that night and got absolutely sh!t-faced drunk because I we terrified. I knew I’d be meeting Strawberry there, and a lot of the live musicans I knew in SL, and I fell back into what used to be my old self-destructive behavior with alcohol. So when I literally staggered out of my car to catch the train to SF, I fell down the escalator and sprained my knee. Needless to say what would probably have been my best opportunity to meet people from SL was spent sitting in the hospital.

    So, as for the tile of this blog post, “Do you know me?” to be honest not really all that much. And I hope I’ve never come across as nosey about your RL.

    And to answer your question at the end, have I found people I could trust to share intimately all of yourself in Second Life? the answer is yes, but I guess only via Second Life. I hope that makes sense.

  3. @Linda: Isn’t wonderful how we can meet people in surprising ways?

    @Wendy: I think our lines of sharing become more comfortable with time and consistency. Maybe it’s that people show themselves worthy of trust and that making parts of ourselves more vulnerable feels right at the right time? And thank you for sharing your comment. I know it was a little stressful for you to do so; know that I deeply appreciate learning more about *you!*

    • When I started in SL 3 years ago(!) my Resident at the time pretty well reflected my personality. I developed some close friendships, a few of them quite intimate. But then my ego gradually rose to the fore (not a pretty thing).

      But now as Maeve I’m a solitary freak; a week may go by before I talk to anyone but that’s cool.

      Morphine’s Mark Sandman said it right. I even quote him in my Picks :p

  4. Yeah, I have friends in SL (and only SL as opposed to RL friends who also SL) who know as much about me as my good RL friends. I naturally open up to people (it’s one of the reasons I find immersive roleplay so hard at times – I tend to just be me) and naturaly stick with folks I trust.

    Love & romantic relationships don’t figure in my SL – I’m too happily married in RL ;-D

  5. Oh heck yes! My current best friendships started in SL, and are about to go into their fourth (!) year – people I talk to nearly every day.

    We don’t all share everything – we each have the boundaries we feel comfortable with – but they’ve never been an obstacle to wonderful intimacy, support and fun, offline as well as online.

    I think people who count and dole out trust like rare coins don’t have the same experience, and I don’t think trust and disclosure are very closely related at all.

    It’s your heart, not your dossier, that needs to be open 🙂

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