The Waxing and Waning of our Second Lives

October 3, 2008 at 5:38 pm (Life, Relationships, Second Life, Second Life addiction) (, )

I feel obligated to apologize for the slow trickle of blog posts from me over the last couple months. I’m not one to offer lame excuses for my lack of compelling content. But actually this is exactly what I wanted to talk about today. Over the last couple months my real life has gotten astonishingly busy. [incidentally I’ve thought a lot about the use of “1st life” vs. “real life” as an antonym to Second Life and I feel compelled to continue to use the expression RL, if simply to remind us all that yes, this life our flesh is living is real, the second one is not.] I barely have enough time to squeeze in the normal obligations of life every day, much less to pump energy into a second one.

So my beautiful house stands vacant on the beach, the wind–if there was any on SL–tosses my curtains around gently and the soothing sounds of waves bounce off my empty walls. I’m not there to enjoy the World->Environmental Settings->Sunset. And my mailbox is constantly overflowing with junk mail–I mean important group announcements for events I won’t attend. Has this ever happened to you? You find your free time gobbled up by the daily routine and soon your once smoldering Second Life screeches to a shocking halt.

Or perhaps my schedule hasn’t changed all that much. Maybe I’ve just noticed that SL has lost a bit of its luster. The list of events seems surprisingly similar to the list I looked at last night and the night prior. The little dings of chats that once poured in by the bucketful have dwindled. The mediocrity of some of the SL musicians has me clutching my ears begging to make it stop. And even the farthest reaches of the most fabulous sims seem, well, stale.

Ok, so honestly it’s probably a little bit of both. But what I’ve learned lately is that our engagements in our Second Lives wax and wane like the monthly metamorphosis of our moon–that is, if we’re healthy. Where I was once sad when I found a friend had disappeared for stretches of time I realize now that they were just taking care of business. Real life needs work. And if we’re engaged in a second–or fantasy–life too deeply, we’re most certainly depriving the roots of our real existence of the most essential and rich nutrients required for us to grow and flourish.

I realize there are many of us whose lives are so painful we retreat into our Second LIves to simply give us some room to breathe. I get that. Although I’d like to suggest even those of us in this situation take a long look at some solid steps–even if they are baby steps–we can take to make real changes in the lives we hide from.

So in the spirit of finding balance, why not take this moment to think of five other things you could do besides sit at your computer staring at your avatar as he or she gallops around the grid. If you don’t like TV, find some new books to read, call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile, or make a cup of hot tea and just sit calmly. Because Second Life can be fun, when played in moderation. It can also be dangerously all-consuming. And when that happens, my friends, we run the risk of losing what’s most important to us: our real selves.


  1. Elliot Lockhart said,

    This morning, I woke up at 6:25am. On a Saturday, this is sleeping in. Blessedly, it was 5 minutes before my six year old daughter came in to be with me. She said “Daddy, I really miss Mommy”. (Mommy is off saving the world this weekend with the captains of Silicon Valley.) She hopped into bed with me, and we snuggled. I was drifting in and out of consciousness as is wont to happen early on a weekend morning, while she was babbling on about something that had recently gone on in her little life. And then I heard the words: “Those were good times, eh Dad?” And I’m thinking “Did I just hear that right?” And, turns out, I did. We all get these little (and sometimes big!) bells that go off in our life. I snuggled her more. Kissed her. And told her I loved her very much. Time drifted for a few more minutes, and I got the urge (as we all do) to pick up the lappy by the side of my bed. Hard as it was, this time, I resisted the urge. I’m glad I did. Because next, I was treated to watching my daughter play with an old Palm Pilot that I’ve given her, and watched her draw rain storms and doll clothes with me under the duvet of our bed. Good Times, eh Ella?

  2. Mylena Aquitaine said,

    Well said Cindy! I’m one of those people who are taking an SL sabbatical right now, actually I’ve been AWOL for a few months already. Although I do miss my friends, it’s also a relief to have taken a step back. My RL was, and unfortunately still is, in the shits but I’m trying to bring some peace to it. It’s something I need to do for myself and for those around me. Will I succeed, I don’t know… but I will have tried. I’ve learned that one can only run so far; RL will catch up with you, always.

    Will I ever be back to SL? Of course. Will it be with the same fervour and enthusiasm? Certainly. Will I let it consume me to the extent it threatened to so before? Absolutely not.

    My RL decidedly comes first. Whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, it remains the most important to me and I refuse to let virtuality take over. I am tired of running.

  3. Koz said,

    5 things ey? Not SL..lemme think..euh…counterstrike, halo, doom, tf2 and UT 😛

    jk 😉

  4. Summer Wardhani said,

    End November, it will be two years that I am in-world. During this period, a lot as happened both in my First and in my Second Life (I tend to use the First Life designation just because I see them just as different plans of the same life, just like in Private Life, Professional life, etc.).

    I’ve read you for sometime now, Cindy – I agree with some of the things you say, I disagree with some others (nothing quite relevant on this side). I totally agree with what you wrote this time. But – yes, there is a but – I felt I had to add something out of my personal experience with both worlds.

    And that relates mainly to bonds you keep outside of your family, which is something we all, humans, are compelled to do (unless you are a sort of saint or hermit, lol).

    And to cut it short, my point is: we would all be happier if we would stick to virtual relationships and interaction, outside of our own families. You see, virtual friends and lovers stand by you when needed, laugh with you, amuse and entertain you. You do about the same with them, with an added bonus of getting to know someone really well and eventually help them in may ways.

    BUT, Second Life friends don’t wrong you about their intentions. At the end of the day, you know it is all a bit of a “pretend-to-be” and you remain aware that you have to count on you and on you alone. There is always this safety distance, you see ? At any point, all you have to do is turn off your pc and go do something else – read, walk, etc as you say.

    Virtual bonds teach us that we can survive anything. Real bonds teach us that humans are shallow and superficial. So yes, tend to your First Life needs first, no doubt. Spend some daily quality time with your beloved ones – and with kids in particular, there is NO better way to forget about time. But just don’t keep your other lives away, for they contribute to your balance as a person – offering you only what is good, together with the chance of avoiding the ugly part of it. That way, you will both touch and feel touched up to the extent you want to… not more, not less…

    Think back : avatars never hurt you, right ? Only people can do that 🙂 So, take your chance, there’s a whole world just waiting to make you happy !!

  5. Raab- Campsite # 15 said,

    Sorry it unfolded the way it did….I assure you the facts were correct.. I relayed them correctly…”twisted’ and “tnnacurate” is not correct… I assure you… Both 1st and 2nd Rounds…. Theres more to it then words in space,,,,Her words were more then a reaction to terms negotiated…So much more… I dont think its clear i relayed exactly what was told to me… 1st and 2nd round….Am i that useless ..Clueless …Hopeless… that you think i would embellish the facts?? I am so saddend by the way thing s have become. And I assure you ..Shadys words may have been fogged over,, But they came from the heart….I can see the light house through the fog…but its so far away. and i cant figure out which direction its in ….And the ship is under mutiny…And sometimes the Captain just wants to walk the plank because that was so not what he signed up for @ the recruiterzzzz… I am sorry for any pain that i have caused you,,, Gadget… or Gadget Jr.Or My crew for that matter.. She/they did not deserve my selfish wrath..The shadey curse..And when we do inevitably cross paths @ the next whatever, I so hope its a hug that We all get…..Because I feel a strong weakness in the force/ (2 put it in R& A terms) And without our alliance the universe does not stand a chance! I miss u all— I truely do. Memories are a curse as well as a blessing sometimes are’nt they?

  6. Bob Barker said,


  7. Invictus said,

    FUCK SECOND LIFE!!!! I lost my wife and two sons becasue of this illusion of life. My wife spent/spends between 14 and 17 hours per day in this cyber hell hole. I am not doing well becasue of this and I hate the fact that my wife is so deep in this that I have not seen her or my boys in over 3 months.
    The last thing that I heard about this situation was that she moved from our home in Virginia to a man’s home in Fort Worth. It would not be so bad if I did not love her or that I have started a relationship[ with a much younger woman to help me in this SL impossed depression. The worst thing to come out of this is that I have been under so much stress and depression that my body is shutting down. Two weeks ago I went into End Stage Renal Failure. Thanks Linden Labs for taking the only woman that I ever loved, taking my two beautiful boys to a place that they are alone, AND THANKS FOR DEPRIVING ME OF A REAL LIFE! The doctors tell me that I will be dead in less than a year.

  8. MoiselleErin said,

    I found that SL is real addicting at first but after being there for 3 months now, it just grows tiresome for me.
    Fantasy lives came long before SL, SL is just the latest thing.
    Nothing wrong with a fantasy life cause RL is nothing more than work, take care of the kids, pay bills, and take care of other mundane things. Heh, who wouldn’t want a fantasy of sorts? RL just sucks and is boring.

    Think of this – a lot of people who are hooked on SL, myself included, have issues they don’t know how to deal with and it has nothing to do with finding SL. Maybe they have been rejected a lot or have physical handicaps that prevent a normal RL. Maybe their love life sucks.
    So, they/we find SL. SL is just a substitute for the good things in the real world true, but there a person can be as beautiful, popular, and to some extent, as rich as they want, and have fun at clubs or skydive…
    SL may be a person’s only way to even virtually experience all those things they will never get to enjoy real life, so why take it away from them?
    Those who scorn SL’ers are not mad cause we rot away in a virtual world a lot, they are mad cause we found some inkling of happiness, some way to experience a taste of a life we can never have in the real world.
    Come join us, the weather is fine and we are welcoming.

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