So…what IS this SL thing?

That was a question posed to me by a RL friend a little while ago. It took me a while to get a coherent answer together, and that surprised me.

SL, to me, is a genuine life – a life lived virtually but not vicariously; not a game, most definitely, nor a technical excercise, either. Two and a half years ago it was a bit of rather superficial fun, but that stage ended rather soon after I realised just what I was doing.

But to others, and very particularly, to those who build and run the bones of SL, namely the employees of Linden Lab – what is SL to them? A 9 to 5 occupation? A Technical excercise in which they use their knowledge of programming to do clever things? Is it any surprise that they have a totally different perspective on this virtual environment?
Are we, as users, “residents”, customers maybe of Second Life really to be taken seriously?
When some change in the coding of SL impedes our enjoyment of our virtual lives, we complain bitterly, sometimes rudely, at the uncaring attitude of LL and its employees. But in the limit why should someone to whom SL is just their day job really care deeply that I cannot TP to my favourite haunts? In my heart of hearts I cannot answer that question. It would be good if Lindens were to spend more time in SL, but their working day probably precludes it unless they do it on their own time, and I doubt that many do.

Then again, there are those who simply come to SL to play games…now to those folk I simply say there MUST be better scenarios outside of SL, I do not understand why you are here.
Is SL simply a social website, in 3D? Most emphatically not. We may socialise, but it is not a prime motivation for many residents.
Some folk come to SL to excercise their creative impulses, and those folk are a large portion of the population of SL that I can understand.

So at last I come to those who come to SL to have second lives. Those, perhaps like me, who cannot, through disability or illness, live rewarding first lives. Those who cannot BE what they are in SL… transgendered, transspecied (is that a word??); transformed in some way from what they are in their first life.

That is what I eventually answered “It is a place where I can live a life I cannot live in first life”. My friend’s response was swift and completely non-comprehending: “But WHY?”

That is something I’m still pondering, but I know one thing: I want to keep doing it.

~ by Ayesha Askham-Ezvalt on February 15, 2011.

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