Today, April 11th, is my sister’s birthday, so of course she is the first thing I think of when writing for this day. I tried so hard to recruit her into Second Life®. She had an avatar and she logged in, but, like too many people, she was unwilling to work through the learning curve from confusion to exploration. It is too bad, she loves music and would make a great DJ. She could come to my sets and I could go to hers. She also loves home decor and would have a fine time redecorating on a whim. I could totally see her as a home and garden blogger. She is also a huge fan of poetry and has memorized hundreds of poems that she can recite on demand. I could see her participating in a poetry salon, too.
That is why Second Life is so magical. If you have a real life enthusiasm, you can explore it in SL. Even more, you can explore it without many of the barriers that frustrate your enthusiasms in RL. You don’t need a second mortgage to remodel your home, you don’t need $15,000 in equipment to spin some tunes. You don’t need to spend $300 on food to host a party. If you’re a poetry enthusiast, you don’t have to try to find enough others in a town of 4,000 people, because you can invite people from all around the world.
I joined SL after an injury sidelined me. I thought I would recover quickly but did not. In many ways, SL has been a lifesaver through these ups and downs of health as I try to recover. I will never forget when I reached the nadir of my illness in 2010, after post-surgical complications had me wanting to die. It was my SL friend, Gidge Uriza, who yelled at me and said, “Don’t you dare.” I don’t think most people in RL knew how sick I was, conditioned as we are to say we are fine. But the SL connection is freeing, we can be more honest without the conventional facade that assures everyone that all is well.
If who we are is determined by our character, personality and intellect, we are probably truer representations of our real selves than we can ever be in real life. Here we are who we aspire to be, we are how we see ourselves. We can be active in spite of disability, we can be social despite lack of transportation, we can be fashionable despite poverty.
Best of all, we meet others in their aspirational form. I think there is something wonderful in that idea, that we are a community of the people we aspire to be, our best selves. No wonder it is so addicting.