Saturday, October 1, 2011

ASK Acu: "Keeping It Real in SL"

Originally appeared in Metaverse Messenger Magazine(M2)

Hey Acu,

I’m not really looking for advice, I just want to vent. I really don’t get this whole idea of integrating SL with RL and relationships. I mean its Second Life, not eHarmony or I keep hearing people talk about how they feel so lost because SL affects their real life, blah-blah-blah. My second life is just that a SECOND (and separate) life. I am not my avatar, they are separate and apart from one another. I have a REAL life and when I come to SL, it’s to live out fantasies and experiment with things I might not be as willing to explore in real life. I could always try these things in real life of course, but I DON’T WANT to. SL is much easier to access and is a lot cheaper to build my dreams in. I guess I am different than most people as I am intelligent and creative enough to keep SL & RL separate. I don’t take this game seriously and don’t trust most of the people I encounter in-world. After all, they are living their fantasies too. Although there are a few people I’ve encountered who I have felt worthy of knowing me in my first life, I have no interest or desire to have people in my SL also in my RL. SL will never be a substitute for real life, so if you don’t have one you need to log off and find one.

~Keeping it Real

Blessings Keeping It Real!

Thanks for writing and being open to sharing your thoughts and feelings so expressively. You may be surprised to hear this, but I think we agree on a few things here. SL is never a substitute for real life, although it can certainly provide a platform to explore things we might not have access to (physically, emotionally, financially) in our first lives. We can not “live” in-world and all must log off to return to our first lives ultimately. If we are neglecting RL, however, we won’t be logging off to much, and the cycle begins making SL the most attractive of the two lives we are living. Escaping RL is when our SL adventures can become problematic, which is why I believe many struggle with their relationships in-world. Why their relationships? Because unlike other MMORPGs, Second Life is a social grid. The roles we play, unlike in other platforms like WoW or EVE are more like real life. Sure there are the Furries and Nekos and such, but there are by far more “human” avatars than any other form in Second Life. It is here that we fulfill fantasies relative to other people (who happen to be in avatar skins). We are not here to battle them, win a goal or advance a level. We are here to connect to others who are like us. In that regard, maybe SL is a game, the same we play in our real lives. Trying to discern other’s intentions and motives and responding to them in a way that creates a desired response. Griefers want drama, Artists want accolades, DJs want crowd cheers, and some want loving, reciprocal (not always, but often romantic) relationships. This is especially true when relationships in real life don’t provide this.

“Enhancing” rather than escaping RL is a much better prospective use of our SL energies, which is where the whole integration idea comes in. Keeping your SL separate from your RL is completely possible. In real life we tend to compartmentalize all of our social relationships (business from personal for example). We cannot, however, separate the person from the avatar. Without the human behind the screen, our avatar has no life. If we are exploring things in SL that we wouldn’t in RL those fantasies belong to the human operator, not the avatar. Although the pixels on the screen don’t have feelings, the operator behind it does. It is the human who seeks and provides responses to what he or she sees on screen. It’s amazing the emotions those pixels can produce in us: love, pain, fear, hate. Hmmm, just like people in RL (grin).

Integration of SL and RL is more about finding balance than it is exposing your privacy or inviting people into your world.  It’s about creating experiences based upon our perceptions and current level of understanding, and having those ideas challenged and matured as a result. It’s about allowing what we learn about ourselves as we explore our relationships in one aspect of our life and having the lessons learned trickle into our other experiences. It’s about knowing who we are in both lives and developing healthy habits and relationships which allow us to grow: mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Wishing you Peace in the pieces of your journey…


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