Archive for October, 2010

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Your Cheatin’ Heart

October 8, 2010

I love Hank Williams.  He’s one of these people who displayed such a prolific genius so young, you can’t help but wonder if he somehow knew that he had a limited time and was rushing to create while he could.  I’m not normally what you would describe as a huge country music fan, but his songs have a stark passion and emotion that is so hard to resist.  Recently, a few things in SL have reminded me of one of my all time favorite Hank Williams songs – Your Cheatin’ Heart.  The biggest one of these is a recent conversation with my friend ChatBrat Pippita, in which we talked about how many people cheat on their SL partners.

This post isn’t about the question of virtual relationships and first life infidelity, but instead about infidelity within virtual relationships themselves.  (First, a very important caveat: This post is not about you or your partner.  I know there is a tendency among people to read into blog posts that intimate the personal and let me say for the record, this post is not about any specific person, it is simply my musing on something that I’ve seen. )  One of the things I love about Second Life is that relationships take all sorts of forms.  Monogamous, polyamorous, open, partnered, you name it and SL has it.  Of course, the most important part to all of this is how the two people in the relationship have defined it for themselves; if it is an open relationship, it is hard pressed to define it as cheating.  All that said, among the monogamous relationships in SL – partnered or unpartnered – it appears to be relatively common for things to go sour because one avatar has been unfaithful to the other.

I’ll be the first to admit that my evidence for saying virtual infidelity is “relatively common” is purely anecdotal.  But between stories from friends, observing some relationships break-up, and my own being hit on by avatars admitting to be cheating (either as an alt or more blatantly), I feel pretty safe to say that it does happens with some frequency.    It happens in all sorts of ways, of course, but the most common appears to be through alting.

My big question is why does this seem to be so prevalent in Second Life?  In a world where trust is the most important currency of all, why is it common for people to try to circumvent that trust?  I have some partial answers; I think one is that I believe people do it because they think they can get away with it.  Another is a belief that a little dalliance isn’t so bad, they still love their partner and this is better than breaking up.  Finally, I think that it also has to do with why people seek other relationships in any world; they’re trying to address some unmet need.  But as I mull over it, none of these seem to fully answer all the whys.

So I put it to you, dear reader, do you believe cheating on virtual partners is a common occurrence in Second Life?  And if you do, just *why* do you think this is?

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Linden Lab: Come Talk To Me

October 5, 2010

If someone were to ask me, “Is Second Life progressing?”  Sadly, my answer would be, “I don’t know.”  Why?  Although I’d like to think that I’m a regular and somewhat well-informed customer, I’d have to say that I don’t have the slightest clue where Linden Lab is trying to bring Second Life. Yes, Linden Lab has been busy, but with a recent  run of what appear to be disconnected business decisions, I can’t exactly say at what.

Linden Lab’s lack of transparency and tendency toward miscues with the community are nothing new.  Effective communication with their customer base simply doesn’t seem to be in the organizational DNA.   Flawed as that communication may have been over the years, there was often a sense of collaboration or even belated responsiveness that helped create a feeling that things were moving forward.  I simply haven’t seen that in some time.  Philip Rosedale expressed the Fast, Easy, and Fun vision for Second Life at the end of July,  but since that time, little has come out since then to describe how they plan to get there.  To top it all off, the mood among Residents can best be described as anxious; it wouldn’t take anyone looking for very long in the SL blogosphere and associated forums to figure that one out.  I can’t help but think the heightened anxiety is correlated to lack of clear communication.

I may be an idealist, but I’m a realist as well; I get that Linden Lab is a business trying to maximize profits.  That said, I also believe communicating and profitability aren’t mutually exclusive.  So rather than guessing at how to glue all the random acts of progress together, I would like to make a simple request of Linden Lab.  (And I doubt any Lindens read my blog, but I’m all for putting it out there.)  And what is that request?  It’s:

If you would like us to come with you, please tell us where you want to go.

I’m not certain if anyone can answer that right now, but it sure would be lovely to hear something.  Thank you ever so much.