Let Yourself Go

October 5, 2007 at 4:33 pm (Life, Relationships, Second Life, Sex) (, , , , , , , , , )

rock-concert.jpg

Ever been to a live concert? I’m not talking the symphony or that traveling version of Cats you took your nephew to see. I’m referring to a real live rock-n-roll show, complete with clouds of pungent pot smoke and that posse of pierced pre-pubescents. Now, remember those annoying people in front of you who refused to sit down and quietly watch the performance? They spent the entire concert on their feet dancing, drinking, and generally enjoying a grand old time. Well, I hate to break the news to you but I’m one of those people. I find it physically impossible to sit still during a live concert. And I’m violently unapologetic about that.

To fully enjoy most of my extracurricular activities, especially entertainment, I tend to give myself over to the experiences entirely. I prefer to lose myself in the activities and become a participant rather than an observing bystander. This is true of concerts, movies, and even Second Life, where one’s experiences are enhanced the more he or she is able to suspend disbelief and go with the flow of the fantasy.

I’m aware of those out there who struggle to release their white-knuckled grip on reality and slide into the sensational spectacle that is Second Life. Sadly, some even stand in judgment of those of us who do delight in delving into this dream world. I recall a recent conversation where a friend categorized a Friday evening spent in SL fantasy “funk land” as pathetic (ya’ll know how I feel about that word!!). Yet I wonder, would this same friend feel as sanctimonious toward an entire evening spent watching Sex in the City reruns or even perusing the plethora of internet porn sites? I think not.

For some reason there remains a lingering social taboo around Second Life. Normally light-hearted, fun-loving folks–people who boogie their butts off at RL concerts and marvel at movies even– seem reluctant to venture into the fun of the game by enjoying things like dancing, relationships, role-play, and sex. Even gamers, who have a rich history of playing just for the fun of it, often scoff at those who find pleasure in SL. And while this may seem merely the minor musings of a fantasy-averse few, I argue it is indicative of a larger issue.

Forgive my soap box here, but what I see is group of self-appointed cultural “experts” who hold other people to their own subjective standards of the merits of certain forms of entertainment over others. This smacks of the argument between the value of “high art” vs. “popular culture” and to me is no different than the societal elitists of yesteryear–eloquently captured, for example, in books like Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence–who relish in their role of determining what’s ok or not for society at large. But who gave any one person or group the authority to decide what is trash and what is treasure for the rest of us?

I don’t mean to rail against anyone here. I merely want to suggest that we all challenge our assumptions and let down our inhibitions once in awhile. So I’ll take the gloves off now and extend an olive branch over the chasm that divides those of us who fully experience SL and those of us who do not (realizing, of course, this is subjective too). I think we should all join hands, let down our guards, and find the fun in the SL fantasy. Let’s fling off those chips on our shoulders and let our hair down together. I promise if you join me at funk Friday, you will have a rockin’ good time. Who knows, you may even be compelled to jump up from your chair and boogie your own butt off!

Funk Fridays are held every Friday night from 7:00pm – 9:00pm (LT) in Second Life at the MMAC, a cultural arts center devoted to cultural arts of all flavors.

Check out this killer tune by Trowzer Boa featuring the shenanigans of a familiar cast at Funk Fridays.  

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2 Comments

  1. macaudioguy said,

    Hey Cindy
    There is another aspect of Second Life consider when comparing it to more passive entertainment media. That is that not only do you interact with second life, you contribute to the communal entertainment experience. While somebody could make the same case.for some other MMOGs, SLis fundamentally different. When I’m Djiing and you’re dancing and we’re carrying on a conversation. There is a creative feedback loop there that traditional media can’t rival.

    VJ

  2. moi said,

    Hmm…

    Here’s what I wanna know:

    How did someone NOT have a good time at an MMAC Funk Friday?

    And here’s what I wanna say:

    There are plenty of good reasons not to venture into various aspects of sl. Like, for instance, sex. If I get into sl sex, I’m cheating. That respects the nature of my rl relationship. I wasn’t sure about that at first, but it’s what I think now. Not only that, it would blow my circuits. As Clint Eastwood’s character says in one of the spaghetti westerns, “Man’s got to know his limitations.” Seems wise to me.

    BUT, I’m not you (I intend a general “you,” not a Cindy Kesey “you,” or an anyone-else-in-particular “you”), and I don’t think there’s any reason for you to be constrained by the same things, or in the same ways as I am. That would be stupid and coercive. Far be it from me to appoint myself your judge.

    So, is your thesis that there ARE peeps in sl who insist upon some kinda moral uniformity? It’s an interesting question, and I don’t say it just because I asked it. I’ve encountered plenty of those kinda peeps myself, but for the most part, they seem to be insisting that everyone in sl be as libertine as they are. Which is knida ironic, to me.

    Seems like a strong aspect of human nature: we tend to insist on the other’s conformity to our conceptions. And it seems inevitable that that tendency would follow us into sl.

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