Posts Tagged ‘first life’

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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?

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Two Times One Minus One

February 12, 2010

No, this post isn’t an homage to that musical supergroup Three Times One Minus One, but about how we keep our first and second lives together.  People come and go from Second Life all the time; it is simply the way things go in a pseudonymous virtual world.  (Which I blogged about before here.)   To be sure, the reasons people leave are many.  Things get too busy in their first life.  They get bored of their second life.  The list of reasons goes on and on and on.  Yet despite what people cite as a specific reason, I have noticed one theme among a group of departures upon which I can make a generalization.  There are exceptions, of course, and it doesn’t cover all people leaving SL but it does address a large group of departures.  Here’s the general trend that I’ve noticed:

“The lifespan of an avatar is inversely proportionate to the distance one keeps from their first life.”

Or, more simply put, the more people have to work to keep their first and second lives separate, the shorter their second life.   No, I’m not talking about people who don’t divulge their first life name, because that is probably 90% of SL Residents.  I’m talking more about the avatars who avoid acknowledging that they even have a first life.  If you’ve been around SL, I’m sure you’ve met the type; these are people that avoid sharing they had awful day at work for fear that someone might ask them what they do.  This is more about being so cautious that the person refuses to share contextual information as friendships develop.  Half the people in SL have something to the effect of “SL is SL and RL is RL” in their profiles, but I would venture to guess that the majority of them share some of their RL with people they’ve grown to trust.

But this doesn’t just apply to keeping your first life secret in your second, but also applies to people hiding their second life from their first. I tend to think that this is actually a larger group.  This is the people keeping their entire experience in Second Life secret from their spouse or partner.  Working hard to keep things hidden requires effort and psychic energy that eventually takes its toll.  Or, as one friend who left put it, “I just couldn’t keep lying all the time.”

Let’s be clear, I’m not judging here; at various points in my Second Life experiences, I’ve worked hard to keep them both separate.  While Second Life allows us to explore boundaries, create and do things that we might not be able to do in the atomic world, we really only have one life to live.  More accurately, I think it is often a process of realization that to maintain it all, one must find ways to be comfortable integrating all of these experiences together or risk burning out.

I would love to hear your two cents on this.  Do you feel you had to find a way to integrate all these aspects of your life?  Or, for those of you who work to keep them apart, has it felt challenging to do so as time passes?

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Apocalypse When?

September 28, 2009

AN

A Welcome Center.  Shit.  I logged into a Welcome Center.  Every time I log in I think I’m gonna rez at my home but my sim must be down.   When I was in my second life, I wanted to be in my first.  When I was  in my first, all I could think of was getting back in-world.  Every minute I’m stuck in this Welcome Center, I get antsier.  Everyone gets everything she wants in Second Life. I wanted a project, and for my sins they gave me  one. Brought it up to me like room service.

A few months back, I was hit with an idea as I watched the Apocalypse Now.  Why not try to make a version of Apocalypse Now based in Second Life?  What really put the hook in me was a sentence in the opening narration.  Captain Willard (a young Martin Sheen) was waking up in his Saigon hotel room and talking about his return to Vietnam for a second tour of duty.  The line that got me was this:

When I was here, I wanted to be there. When I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle.

Why did it hook me?  Because it reminded me of moments of my experiences with Second Life.  Of the times where I was in my first life and wishing I could be in my second.  Then times in my second life where I was feeling the good pull from my atomic world.  This, of course, got me thinking.  What about a Second Life version of Apocalypse Now or Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness?  (and for those of you who didn’t know, Apocalypse Now is a loose retelling of Heart of Darkness)   I found that I was thinking about what was common to those stories and linking them to SL; telling a tale of a  lead character set on a journey for Kurtz in Second Life, but going deeper and deeper into her darker places.  Done well, I thought the SL version could be a fascinating comic, machinima, blog with pictures, just about anything.

So why are you writing about an idea that you never did anything about, Lanna?  Because, just like Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, I got the mission I wanted.  And when it was over, I would never want another.  What mission was that you say?  Look after the jump to find out.

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