I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Second Life for seven years. For six of those, I had an older desktop computer that couldn’t properly handle SL’s demands, and I spent time inworld with my camera pointed at the floor so that I could type. I kept water, trees, and most people derendered, and my graphics on the lowest low setting. It was the people, the conversations that kept me inworld, and I saw very little of the actual world I was visiting.
A couple of years ago a family situation turned my entire life upside down, and I abruptly became a full-time caregiver. The friends I’ve made in Second Life and InWorldz became my only social contacts. Real world friends quickly disappeared when the shit hit the fan. Virtual worlds, and the people in them, kept me from going postal.
And then last year one of those friends gave me a gift that changed everything. She sent along her old gaming laptop. It’s a beast; it’s the size of a small suitcase and weighs 12 pounds. But that laptop opened a window to a brand new world for me. The first time I logged into Second Life on my new lappy, I cried. I did! Even though I’d seen pictures of SL, rezzing on my dock and seeing water for the first time inworld, I fell in love with Second Life all over again.
I could walk! Move, dance, fly- well, almost. I’ve never been very good at flying, I always wind up stuck in a tree or a roof. And don’t even get me started on spiral stairs. But back to my brand new Second Life: I started exploring. For the first time I could see past a draw distance of 22. I could see my house properly, my trees, and oh man, the skies! I went nuts with windlight, and when I discovered the water light settings I was like a kid in an Apple store. Guys, it turns out virtual worlds are really stunning.
And because I could, I started snapping photos. I’ve been blogging for four years, so I’ve taken photos before (and crashed after every single one). I look back at those pics now and cringe- the graphics were so bad. But that was how I saw my world.
Now my world is very different.
Second life has moved from social outlet to a creative outlet. I’m a writer; visual expression never really called to me. But lately I’ve felt less and less like sharing my writing, and the photos I take in Second Life allow me to share some of myself without using words. These photos are a type of therapy, and I will forever be grateful for the gift my friend gave me. She gave me more than just a laptop- she gave me a whole new world.
Second life is a social circle, a canvas and a medium. But I never forget that it’s the people that make it a world. If I had to go back to camming the floor and derendering everything, I would still come inworld for the people. I wouldn’t have a second life without them.
Bio: Whiskey Monday lives in the eastern US and spends her real world time writing ‘til her fingers bleed and resisting the urge to burn her house down. She spends her inworld time composing photographs and resisting the urge to burn her neighbor’s house down. You can find her blog at whiskeymonday.com.
My blog: http://www.whiskeymonday.com
My flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75351422@N03/
My inworld Gallery: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Edloe/199/200/30