Dare to be Different in Second Life

June 13, 2009 at 9:00 am (Communication, Life, Second Life)

Courtesty of Studio Tau

Courtesty of Studio Tau

If we had a chance to live life over again, would we make the same choices?

Have any of you seen the movie Eternal Sunshine of the  Spotless Mind? It’s a great and thoughtful film starring Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, who are both phenomenal in their unique roles. The story is about two lovers who go to great lengths to erase the painful memories of each other from their minds. But the underlying question of the film is poignant: if we had a chance to do life over, would we make the same choices?

The virtual world Second Life (SL) often reminds me of this question in its ability to provide a landscape where we might live our slives a little differently than the real ones in which we’re immersed every day. And I am often astonished to see the lengths to which many folks within SL go to recreate their lives so they reflect their real world around them.

Example, you say? Of course I’ll give you an example. What kind of writer would I be if I made assertions without backup? 😉 One of the places I find this behavior to be most prevelant is the dance clubs within Second Life. Even in design many of these clubs resemble the high school dances of yesteryear, complete with rows of seating lining the walls where avis line up and…you guessed it…wait. What are they waiting for? To be asked to dance, of course. Few put themselves out there and actually initiate conversation with others even though that’s probably what they’re there for in the first place.

Like real life, we use the attention we might receive from other avis in Second Life to help us feel better about ourselves and bolster our self confidence in our real lives. (Don’t believe me? check out my post that disscusses research on the subject). And, sadly, like real life we probably also experience dips in our self esteem when we are rejected in SL. I guess that’s why we remain reluctant to initiate conversation or put ourselves out there by acting in ways that are a bit different than our modus operandi in our real lives.

Admittedly I used to be unphased by initiating conversation with someone I found interesting at a club or venue in SL. But over time I began to feel like I was always the initiator and I stopped to see if the would pendulum swing back in the other direction. And after repeated (and rather lonely) visits to places brimming with activity where it seemed everyone stood back to wait for someone else to make the first move, I realized SL is just a microcosm of what’s both right and wrong with our world.

So my challenge here is to get off your butt (figuratively, of course) and reach out. Dare to act differently in Second Life than you would in real life. If you find yourself visting an event or social spot in SL put yourself out there. Strike up a conversation. Ask someone to dance. Comment on his or her profile. Flirt a little.  Why not? You’re just sitting at your computer; noone but  you will know if you are rebuffed by that stunning cartoon or not. And who knows, you might just meet a like-minded soul who was just waiting for you to reach out. If you stay silent, you may never know.



  1. Zippora Zabelin said,

    I don’t know if I have changed, our virtual has changed or that I’m simply visiting other places than 2,5 year ago, where people show other behaviour. But I do notice a change.
    Lately I’ve wondered quite often about the deadly silence in areas where many people were gathered indeed. In my memory it used to be much more common to start chatting with strangers. Only rarely I make new friends, and usually they are friends of friends, and not people that I encountered somewhere, as it used to be in my early days.

    Concerning the copying of our real lives to the virtual world: that’s something I’ve given quite some thought in general. Why are most of us living in a house with a kitchen and a bedroom – yes even a TV-set – just like in RL? Do avatars need a kitchen? Do you ever watch TV in world? And why do we commit our selves to the same restrictions of monogamy – including the accompanying drama – as in our real lives?
    If we can make our dreams come true in this world, for many people their dreams apparently are very much like reality.

  2. Zog Ozsvar said,

    I thought everything had just gone quiet – almost everywhere I go is empty and almost everyone I see is silent.

    Im a constant babbler even in text, but it seems like public chat voice or text is definitely less common than it was.

    BTW Cindy – nice to see that you are still writing occasionally!


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