Puppy dog

weakYou may call me old-fashioned – actually, please do: I subscribe to a number of values and principles that seem to have very much fallen by the wayside in modern times, however I think they’re important – but there are some things that just jar with me when I come across them. I’m probably going to get shot by a few people for saying this, but I’m a firm believer, at least to some extent, in certain role models and stereotypes that are – apparently – no longer to be encouraged, even though to me they seem entirely natural.

Take Metro Man, for example: A disturbing trend which – like male facial hair – seems these days to be de rigeur for the bloke who wants to be seen to be trying. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against a chap who takes care of themselves, smells pleasant and has obviously made some attempt at personal grooming, but then again, I’ve no beef with a guy who comes striding over the moors, long hair blowing in the wind, a good five o’clock shadow and weather-worn skin, à la Heathcliff, (the Wuthering Heights one, not the cartoon cat), or maybe the rustic, homespun charm of Monty Don! What I don’t want is a bloke who spends more time in front of the mirror, shopping for clothes, or worrying about split ends than I do.

It’s not that I have anything against a guy wanting to look his best, and kudos to those who do, for making the effort; the problem is, as I see it, we’re looking at the thin end of the wedge, because it’s but a short step from taking a manly pride in one’s appearance, to losing the essential maleness that sets you aside from the gentler sex. Let me explain further by relating what I saw yesterday in SL – and it’s something that I’ve come across on several occasions recently inworld.

wardrobeIt was one of those days when a spot of retail therapy was the order of the day and, rather than head off to my usual shopping haunts, I decided to revisit some of the lesser used landmarks cluttering up my inventory. As always, the first half dozen either didn’t work any more, or saw me stood in an empty field with a big yellow ‘Land Rental’ sign plonked in the middle. Eventually however, I did manage to find a clothes’ store, where I spent a good hour, and a fair few lindens, on satiating my needs. That’s when I ran across ‘the couple’ – a girl and a guy seemingly attached by an invisible elastic prim that ensured that wherever she went, he dutifully followed a few steps later. Nothing wrong with that, of course, sometimes when you’re buying an outfit for a special occasion, it’s good to get your other half’s opinion before you splurge your savings – happens in RL too, particularly when love is young and one party is trying to make a good impression on the other. Not throughout the entire shop though… Which is precisely what I observed: Ms Elastic spent pretty much the whole time I was there, examining pretty much every outfit on sale, whilst Mr Elastic tagged along faithfully behind like a meek little puppy dog trotting at her feet.

Aside from trying to impress one’s partner in the very early days of a relationship, as mentioned above, there is only one other reason – whether in real or virtual life – that a woman would drag a man around every single display in every single store on a clothes shopping trip: It’s to assert her power over him. It’s a form of dominance that is very public and completely obvious to everyone watching, and for the guy concerned there’s simply no hiding the fact of exactly who is in control. At any other time, no woman wants to drag a sulky, bored, whinging lump of man around with her whilst she shops, and this is a perfectly well understood principle in enlightened society. Then man’s role is to let her get on with it, whilst he hangs around in loose groupings with his fellow males, shuffling in the doorway of M&S, or – if he’s lucky – nipping off to the pub for a swift one, or indulging his desires for gadget porn at Dixons. This is one of the reasons local councils put seating in the high street – it’s reserved for drunks, old ladies and bored men waiting for their partners to choose a pair of shoes.

As I’ve stated, I’ve nothing against men showing their softer side, neither do I have a problem with traditional concepts of dominance – some of my best friends, in both worlds, are dommes! However, it’s not one of those things I really want to have on my radar under such mundane circumstances as when I’m shopping, even in a virtual setting – somehow, it just seems wrong – there are solid reasons why masculine and feminine are fundamentally different, no matter what the PC brigade my want us to believe – and whenever I do see it heading off on this downward spiral, something of my faith in the virtual human race dies inside. I really don’t want, neither do I need to see poor, downtrodden, meek examples of the male of the species trudging mournfully around in the wake of their better halves, in the shoe aisles of the stores I frequent. I’d much prefer them to be out, getting into trouble and getting up to the stuff that blokes are supposed to get up to.

Like I said, I’m pretty old fashioned, or maybe I’m just out of touch!

s. x

I wanna play cricket on the green
Ride my bike across the street
Cut myself and see my blood
I wanna come home all covered in mud
The Who – I’m A Boy

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Punk isn’t dead (it just ‘aint rock ‘n’ roll no more)

punkThis week saw Joe Corre, son of Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood – you may also know him as the founder of Agent Provocateur – do something rather strange. It was a protest, which saw £5m worth of punk memorabilia, including a one of a kind acetate recording of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ quite literally go up in flames on a barge in the middle of the River Thames. The protest was against ‘Punk London’ – a celebration of 40 years of punk rock, including workshops on ‘How to be punk’, hosted by the Museum of London.

Lots of people seem to be very annoyed about it. I do think he rather had a point, although I have to say I don’t think he managed to get it across terribly well. He said punk was never meant to be nostalgic; which seems to me a rather lame excuse for his actions. What he should have said was that the very act of ‘the establishment’ legitimising and endorsing the punk movement effectively undermines its fundamental tenets. Punk is anti-establishment, it is anarchic, it is nonconformist and gives a metaphoric two-finger salute to The System. What Punk London manages to achieve is the emasculation of the very movement it wants to celebrate!

punk1_001If you ask me, burning that memorabilia is exactly the sort of affirmative action that any self-respecting old school punk would have taken to make a point back in the days when protesting the status quo really meant something.

I’ve always considered SL as being a little bit anarchic and perhaps just a touch anti-establishment too. There is much that goes on inworld that clearly says to convention ‘screw you’, and it seems to me that many SL residents have a rebellious streak, a fair bit of attitude, and a stubborn resistance to conformity. We don’t like to be told what to do, how to do it, or why we should; are highly individualistic and are more than willing to ‘stick it to the man’, given the slightest opportunity.

I’m not for one moment suggesting that SL bears anything but a passing resemblance to the punk movement, but nevertheless that resemblance is there, and it’s good to know that even when the the last strongholds of anarchy and freedom of expression are succumbing to becoming rather twee and acceptable – the sort of thing you can do in front of your granny, and not receive a clip around the ear – in SL at least, we have something of a bastion of the punk ethos, even if it isn’t quite as in your face as Sid Vicious spitting in your eye!

Maybe punk is dead, after all… But, whatever Joe Corre might say, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgic pogoing now and again.

Just so long as it’s not sanitised, endorsed by the establishment and sugar-coated until it achieves a veneer of politically correct, saccharine, doing-as-it’s-told respectability.

punk5_001

Bollocks to that!

s. x

How many ways to get what you want
I use the best
I use the rest
I use the enemy
I use anarchy
The Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK

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Three

threeNow and again, we find ourselves doing something in SL that a ‘reasonable’ person might find a little strange, even bizarre. I’m not talking about any of the crazy and ridiculous activities that most of us find ourselves embroiled in on a regular basis, but the sort of things that might lead a casual observer to scratch their heads in bemusement.

It happens to me quite frequently and is one of the dangers of the lines between the real and virtual worlds becoming a little too blurred. Where any less-involved person might recognise the point at which the line should be drawn and let common sense prevail, I forge ahead, having lost any sense of normality.

It was the annual Halloween bash at my regular Friday night venue. I dressed for the occasion of course, ensured that I was well furnished with refreshments, and settled down for an enjoyable evening of fun and frivolity. Closing time came, and went, as it frequently does on a Friday; the time crept onwards to midnight and beyond, and then even the diehards and party animals began to throw in the towel.

Not me… I, and a few foolish others – some of whom occupied time zones far more conducive to staying on than my own – decided to stick it out to the bitter end, no matter when that might eventually turn out to be!

As it happened, the bitter end, when it came, was the unholy hour of 3am. And although you might contend that we were having fun, it wasn’t a ‘school night’, and there was no harm in it, you still have to question my question my sanity just a little. I could try and justify it by arguing that I’m generally a bit of a night owl anyway, but sitting in front of a computer for seven hours straight, until stupid o’clock in the early hours, just to listen to music and exchange drunken banter with a few, equally bonkers friends,  has to make you wonder about my priorities, surely?

okinawa3_001It’s even weirder when you consider that I’m not a party animal. I avoid those sort of things like the plague in RL, and – unless I’m surrounded by people I know well, in a familiar setting – I’m not that comfortable with that scenario inworld, either. Although, when it comes to holding out until the last possible moment, I’m afraid that I do have form in both real and virtual settings. Outside SL, if you do manage to get me along to a party – and that’s no easy feat – the chances that you’re going to be stuck with me all night, either that, or leaving without me, are pretty high. I’m frequently amongst the last to leave, if not the last person out of the door at the end.

The same is true inworld – on many occasions I’ve found myself the last avatar standing, wondering where the time went, and where has everyone gone? I really don’t know why, it’s just one of the more inexplicable aspects of my character.

Perhaps I’m just not as capable as others when comes to moderation… Where any other reasonable person might say ‘it’s late, I have a warm, cosy bed waiting for me and I’ve enjoyed myself immensely, but it’s time to call it a night’, the thought doesn’t even come to mind. I don’t worry that 4 hours sleep is an unreasonable amount of rest at the end of a long and busy week, and the fact that I’m no longer at the age – and haven’t been for a very long time – that pulling an all-nighter is no big deal, scarcely crosses my mind.

Maybe I need a inworld chaperone, who will gently suggest, at an appropriate time, that I’ve had a good night, but now it’s bedtime and I should think about saying my goodbyes and logging out?

Or maybe I should just accept that there’s life in the old girl yet, and it may be wrong, it’s certainly not wise, but nevertheless nothing is likely to change for the foreseeable future, so I may just as well accept that this is the way I am.

And if I do happen to fall asleep in the middle of a conversation… You’ll know why!

s. x

Let’s dance in style, let’s dance for a while,
Heaven can wait we’re only watching the skies.
Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst,
Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?
Alphaville – Forever Young

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Renaissance

backLike most things, I suppose, the longer you associate with SL, the more likely it is that you’ll be unable to sustain the same level of interest in the platform constantly and consistently. The same is true of many aspects of our real lives: Our engagement with work, hobbies, interests and relationships is subject to wax and wane, no matter how committed to the cause we may be – that’s just the way things are. What once commanded our time and energy in the past may one day become less of a draw, and where once we might have braved hell and high water to pursue the object of our desire, now we may lack even the interest to consider spending time on it.

I’m not immune to such capriciousness and neither are the things in my life. When I look back over the years I see several endeavours that once filled most of my free time, and now for various reasons, never cross my path. That’s not to say that my reminiscences are not tinged with an element of regret – I miss some of the things I’ve given up; at the time they formed a massive part of my life and I owe much of who I am today to where I’ve been in the past, however, things change and some, inevitably, do not remain the same.

The same must be said of SL – in around six months, my association with the virtual world will have lasted 10 years, which in comparison with many of my other areas of interest in the past means I still have at least that long remaining inworld – so you’re probably stuck with me for some time to come, I’m afraid! Even so, my interest and commitment to SL over those years has varied, sometimes with good reason, whilst with no apparent cause at other times. In particular, the last year or so has seen my engagement wane.

I can identify some practical reasons behind my falling away from SL: A change of job and personal circumstances has certainly eroded the amount of time I can commit to inworld and associated activities. Maybe there’s also been a kind of ‘sympathetic withdrawal’ too – in the last year I’ve seen a number of SL friends disappear into the ether; a whole cohort of virtual world bloggers seem to have thrown in the towel, and inworld places and people seem to have moved on… It makes for a kinda lonely experience, even if it’s not really that tangible or real. Even so, there’s something more to it than that, something less defined – I just haven’t felt that connection quite as strongly as I once did.

kink2_001But… Suddenly I seem to be getting my mojo back!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself getting up close and personal again with SL, like in the good old days. Things I’ve not done properly and wholeheartedly for ages, I’ve started to do again: Exploring, shopping, the odd hunt, and the silly, ridiculous things that for a while seemed have fallen into oblivion – the mad car races, daft games and juvenile behaviour – are all back with a vengeance, and I’m enjoying them too! Clothing that has languished unused and forgotten in my inventory for months has been dragged out and flaunted, and I have a feeling that the crazy hair will also be making an appearance soon!

I’m even thinking it’s about time that I started working on a new exhibition for the Gallery – well, it’s been at least a year since I had a change! – and, since I’m definitely spending a lot more time inworld, I should be able to spare some to sort it out.

Thankfully, it’s not just the inworld activities that have experienced something of a renaissance, outside the viewer I’ve been getting back up to speed too. For the first time in what seems like an eternity this blogging thing is starting to feel appealing again: There’s a huge difference between writing because you feel you have to, and writing because you feel you want to – and that’s a difference that expressed in other ways too, most posts in recent months have taken three hours and upwards to thrash out, whilst today’s flowed over the course of around 20 minutes.

Don’t ask me why, I don’t know and I’ve learned not to over-think things too much, I’d much rather go with the flow and see where it leads. The important thing, (at least I think it’s probably important), is that – for the time being, at least – I’m back!

tonk4_001

So, watch out!

s. x

Rewind the film once more
Turn back the pages of my post
Rewind the film once more
I want the world to see it all
Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film

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Six

best-sixes-201411071A short while back, WordPress sent me congratulations on completing six years blogging.

Has it really been that long? I was surprised – the time has passed very quickly and, the truth is, nobody is more shocked than me that I’m still pressing on with this writing lark.

Technically, this is blog number 3 – the first was consigned to the virtual oubliette in a fit of pique, (a fit of something like that, anyway – I forget the circumstances, but it seemed so terribly important at the time); and the second, well it just wasn’t working out – probably because neither of my lives, real or virtual, were working out either at the time. So, new avatar, new perspective, new blog, and six years later you’re still stuck with me.

At least, I assume you are still stuck with me – judging by the number of bot comments that regularly end up in my spam bin, for all I know my regulars are just a pile of HTML, but then again, I do know that at least some of you are real people – that’s reassuring! Some of you, incredibly, have been here right from the start (you deserve medals!) – that’s an awfully long time to put up with my witterings. In fact, in blogging terms, that’s a ridiculously long time: Apparently, most blogs peter out and quietly die in the first four months, those that do go on to greater things have an average life of around three years, which means that I’ve outstayed my welcome by a considerable margin!

And it’s not as if I’ve chosen to make things easy for myself – anyone who chooses to write on a single topic – ie. SL – practically constantly for that amount of time probably needs psychiatric help, if you ask me – and I’m constantly amazed that despite limiting myself to such a narrow field, it’s a rare occasion when I find myself with nothing at all to say – although whether it’s a case of quantity over quality is debatable, only you can decide.

It’s a strange thing, this blogging lark: Writing stuff, principally for my own enjoyment, with no real agenda, other than to get words onto the page, for a bunch of people, the vast majority of whom I have never met – and never will – and most of whom I’ve never interacted with in any other way. I sometimes wonder how I must appear to you – do you have a picture of me, sat at my keyboard, in your mind’s eye as you read my latest post? Would you recognise me if you were to spend an evening in my company? Have you ever wished you could pick up the phone and take me to task over something I’ve written?

I’ve always said, right from the start, that this blog is a personal thing. I don’t write about what my readers want to read, I write about what I want to write – maybe that’s a selfish thing to do, but I doubt it’ll change any time soon, and it’s always been the case that I’d blog even if there was nobody reading it – that still holds true: I’m not in this game for profit, personal gain, kudos, followers or fame… Thankfully, none of that seems to have come my way anyway! I just write because I feel the need. Knowing that others enjoy reading what I write is wonderful – a bizarre feeling, but nevertheless I’m grateful that you’ve decided to join me on the journey – thank you!

So, with six years behind me, what lies ahead.

No idea… Let’s just wait and see!

light_001

s. x

No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
Boyce Avenue ft. Diamond White – Unwritten

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Wedded bliss

matrimonyThere are many things about both SL and human nature that bemuse me – some, I’m sure, arise from my own experiences or a certain incapacity to relate to things at an emotional level that are pretty easy for most people to grasp. The latter I put down to a latent psychopathy that I’m sure is lurking deep within my subconscious!

I was recently an attendee at an inworld get-together, itself celebrating the getting-together of a couple of friends, and surprisingly I enjoyed it. Normally these are things that I’ll avoid at all costs in both worlds, but sometimes for friends, I can make an exception, and I’m glad I did. Although it wasn’t a wedding as such, I’d be surprised if a virtual hitching isn’t on the cards at some point in the future.

I’ve never been to an inworld wedding and it’s one of those things that my little mind struggles to comprehend. I completely understand the emotional and psychological basis for SL partnering – indeed, I’ve been there myself – but virtual ‘marriage’ is, in my opinion a step way too far. I’m not having a dig at those who do subscribe to tying the virtual knot – I’m equally indisposed to the idea of marriage in RL too, but that’s just the way I am, I’m afraid.

Even without that bias, I struggle to grasp the concept of a virtual wedding. It has no legal standing, confers no particular special status upon the celebrants and has little to offer in the form of personal gain, or shared benefits. You may, of course, find that a terribly cynical view of the whole thing and be wondering whether I have any grasp of the concept of romance, and I can understand your bemusement – to which I plead ‘guilty as charged’. Romance aside, which I grant you is a strong motivator, all the paraphernalia of the accompanying wedding celebration is something that completely baffles me. Do people really derive the same sort of excitement, satisfaction and feelings of wellbeing that presumably accompany the planning and execution of a real life wedding, from imitating the process inworld? To me, that seems somehow unlikely… But again, I wouldn’t know, and maybe there’s some rational foundation for wishing to do so?

wedding_001Surely then, the SL wedding business must be founded on something more than just romance? I can understand how romantic attachments and all that goes with them thrive in RL, but they come with far more in the way of human contact and, dare I say it, emotional investment. If anything, those committing to a partner in SL and looking for that grand romantic gesture should maybe be considering something a little more tangible – that maybe breaks the divide between the real and virtual world – rather than a dressy inworld ceremony?

Or have I got this all completely wrong? I’m quite happy to be told I have, although I’m not sure I could be convinced otherwise! I guess I’m somewhat jaded when it comes to romantic attachments of any nature, and this is bound to colour my opinion. Sad? Maybe, but actually I’m perfectly happy with my situation, and the same happens to be true of my Second Life too. Inevitably, at that recent happy gathering, the conversation turned to ‘I wonder who it’s going to be next?’ If there’s one thing of which I am certain, it’s not going to be me, and that’s something that doesn’t bother me in the slightest!

Maybe you’re one of those who has demonstrated your love for another in SL by exchanging virtual vows, perhaps rings, maybe even pushing the boat out and going the whole hog – dress, top hat and tails, grand reception, the lot. If you are, then I wish you all the best and I’m sure you’ll gain great happiness from it. In a way, I wish I could empathise and share in the delight, but it just doesn’t work for me.

SL weddings, as far as I can relate to them, fall into the same category as Gorean roleplay, Vampires and and virtual fashion models – I can understand the allure; I really don’t mind if it floats your boat; and, there’s nothing at all wrong, weird or bad about it… But I really don’t understand it, and it doesn’t work for me.

Each to their own, and if it makes you happy, then why not?

s. x

One thing I can tell you is
You got to be free
Come together, right now
Over me
Joe Cocker & Martin Luther – Come Together

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That wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff

timeMy life at the moment seems to revolve ever more frequently around railway timetables. It would be nice if the trains were as competent at adhering to them as I am, sadly that’s not always the case.

The only thing worse than relying on trains that run to their own perverse, and private, schedule is having to get up unreasonably early in the morning to avail oneself of this mode of transport, which is happening rather a lot lately. Worse still, I seem to be developing a bad habit that really isn’t helping matters. Just recently, often enough for it to become annoying, I’ve found myself setting my alarm for an early start and waking well before it’s due to go off. I lie there, resisting the temptation to check the time, becoming increasingly irritated with my phone’s reluctance to burst into life and signal the start of another new day. I suppose I could resign myself to the fact that I’m awake, and get up anyway, but that really goes against the grain and there’s always that nagging suspicion that in my still-soporific state I could be giving up a large chunk of shuteye time by mistake.

timemachine_001So I lie there, irritated and restless, as the seconds turn into minutes and the minutes seem impossibly long. Then, just at the point I’ve decided I’m mistaken and there’s still hours until daybreak, I drift away only to be roused milliseconds later by that damn alarm I’ve waited for since first waking!

Contrary to the laws of the universe, and against all logic, I know for a fact that time – as it relates to me personally – is quite definitely not a constant, and it will do as it pleases, no matter what Einstein might have to say about it. Take the minutes spent standing in queues, sat on trains, or hanging around in airports and hospital waiting rooms… They quite definitely last far, far longer than average minutes, and aeons longer than whole hours spent indulging in any sort of fun.

time3Similarly, a day in work can easily last several years, but when I get home and log in to SL, an infinitesimal amount of time will pass before it’s time to log back out again. It amazes me just how much I manage to get done in such a brief interval. Last night, for example, I did a spot of shopping, chatted with friends and then spent what should have been a couple of hours dancing and socialising. So why is it that when I checked the time it was already well past 11pm, and I have absolutely no idea where that time could possibly have gone?

Time – as Douglas Adams quite correctly observed – is an illusion, (as for lunchtime being doubly so, I concur… Many of my purported lunchtimes are wholly illusory and never actually take place). I can’t help wondering just how much of this particular illusion I may have expended on that other illusion in my life: The illusion of living another existence in a virtual world. That’s a tricky one to answer – currently, I probably spend a couple of hours inworld a few days a week – however it’s been a lot more in the past, and any figure is going to be a rather rough estimate at best, and wildly inaccurate at worst. With that caveat, I reckon I may have spent getting on for 10000 hours inworld over the past 9 years, or to put it another way, I’ve spent about 2 years in SL in the last 9. That’s an awful lot of time, all told.

It’s been said that to truly master something and become expertly skilled, requires 10000 hours of work, so by that measure I guess I must be an expert when it comes to SL…

Except that’s really not the case!

timeandbooks1

All that time spent doing my virtual thing has made me an expert in one thing only…

Frittering away my time!

s. x

But I know all this means is
Whiling on the hours
Watching sideshows
Ocean Colour Scene – The Circle

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Going goth

gothOne of the joys of SL is being able to do things that are either not possible in the real world, or which we’d be unlikely to even contemplate, no matter what the circumstances.

Whether we’re talking skydiving, extreme roller derby, or simply changing our hair colour to one we’d never consider in RL, inworld we have a safe, risk free environment in which we can experiment and push the boundaries to our hearts content, without ever having to worry about the consequences or whether what we’re doing is going to come back and bite us in the bum at some point in the future.

It’s something that I take advantage of frequently… Sometimes it’s by design, often it just happens and I go with the flow. At the moment, that flow seems to be taking me down an unexpected path. To my surprise, I appear to be turning into a goth.

I’m not sure how exactly it’s come about, but I think the original inspiration may have been the unintentional result of combining a particular set of eyelashes with a particular style of makeup – it was just begging for a bit of gothic couture to complement, and before I knew it, I was looking like someone out of an emo band!

avid3_001It’s not a look that I’d ever consider in RL – I never have been, and almost certainly never will be of that persuasion, I’d feel foolish even attempting it and I can guarantee that, no matter how much effort I made, if wouldn’t look half as good as the virtual version. Besides which, I have absolutely no desire at all to pursue that pathway.

That begs the question, why do it in SL then? And the simple answer is ‘because I can’. There’s no rationale, rhyme or reason behind my current look – it’s the sort of thing that, if I was a teenager, you’d be saying of me ‘it’s just a phase she’s going through… She’ll grow out of it’. Like so many things that typify me in SL, I don’t need a reason and I do as I feel at the time – it makes me happy, and that’s good enough for me.

The truth is that over the past few months, I’ve been a little bit boring compared to how I can be inworld. I’ve dressed fairly conservatively, steered clear of the crazy hairstyles and my SL routine has been, well… Pretty routine, really. However, I can only be normal and predictable for so long, and eventually, after any extended period of this sort, there’s a very good chance that I’m either going to go completely off the rails, or have a brief spell of being a bit different; and being a bit different is rarely anything like the real life me.

In the past, such diversions from normality have seen me become a punk rocker, biker chick, cyberpunk, post apocalyptic grunge girl, Rocky Horror reject, and a whole host of weird, wonderful and way out virtual variations. You wouldn’t find me ever looking anything like these in RL, not even in fancy dress – I don’t have either the confidence or the excuse to do it, and even if I did, I don’t honestly think I’d want to. It’s strictly a Second Life thing for me, and that’s really the only place that I would feel comfortable exploring that facet of my character.

goth1_001It’s a lot easier in SL too – makeup is a doddle to apply, ‘unusual’ clothes are cheap and readily available – and in the right sizes too – and unlike the real world, people are less likely to be shocked, surprised or critical of how you look.

Maybe I’ll never do gothic in the real world, and that’s probably all for the best, but I’m having fun with it inworld… And isn’t that basically the whole point of SL?

s. x

Well I let their teeny minds think
That they’re dealing with someone who is over the brink
And I dress this way just to keep them at bay
Cos Halloween is everyday
It’s everyday
Ministry – Everyday Is Halloween

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Disconnected

disconnectedIt was a dark, dismal night and with a frown
I read the message ‘network is down’
I tried once more without success
Just what was wrong was anyone’s guess
‘Unscheduled maintenance’ said the blog
Or perhaps the Lindens were out, walking the dog
It didn’t matter to me what was wrong
I only knew that the night would drag on
I twiddled my fingers, I twiddled my thumbs
Then cleaned out my keyboard: full of biscuit crumbs
I surfed the net, but there was nothing to see
YouTube was boring and nowt on TV
I tidied my desk and opened some wine
Anything really to just pass the time
And still no connection; nothing at all
The virtual world was not playing ball
Resigned to an evening without logging on
I tried to recall what I once would have done
In those days in the past before Second Life
When I still had my money, my job and my wife
Before I succumbed to the virtual addiction
And my world was consumed by my SL affliction
Those days when my friends were the sort you could meet
People of flesh, with real hands and real feet
Now they’re just pixels – imaginary faces
Living imaginary lives, in imaginary places
And while I’m away in this world in the cloud
The real life I should have has become dissavowed
My clothes all need ironing and the bins need to be cleared
The fridge stands there empty and the toilet smells weird
There’s a million and one things I really must do
But I’ve not had the time, or an opportunity to
Instead I’ve been dancing and shopping and stuff
Playing with gestures; I can’t get enough
But tonight things are different and it seems I’ve no choice
There’s no Second Life, no chat and no voice
I’m really not sure I’m equipped for the task
Of returning to real life without a virtual mask
So I take a deep breath, and I try one more time
And by some miracle, find I can now get online!

furillen5_001

s. x

I want to hide the truth
I want to shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide
Imagine Dragons – Demons

Posted in Poetricity, RL, SL, Unlikely stories | Leave a comment

Insider insight

ropeIn the real world, I have been known to associate with some interesting and eclectic people. Occasionally, we’ll have a social get-together – maybe a meal or a few drinks in a local pub, and spend the time engaged in everyday things completely unrelated to the common interests that bring us together. I suppose you could say that we’re a community of sorts, although you might struggle to identify exactly what it is that links us, and an outsider to the group would probably find more in terms of dissimilarity than commonality between us, without knowing the common bond that connects us.

Indeed, at a recent evening out, there was an outsider in our midst – a university student undertaking a project seeking to document the activities of various communities within society. Some interesting discussion ensued, and it became patently obvious that not all social groupings are easy to either categorise or define, either by activities, beliefs, interests or indeed any frame of reference that our young researcher had intended to rely upon.

Some communities, I suppose, are fairly easy to categorise – model train enthusiasts, for example, are linked by a certain amount of common ground that is readily identifiable. Even so, I’m pretty certain that if you were to bring a bunch of model railway buffs together and questioned them, it would rapidly become apparent that the world of miniature trains is far more complicated than an outsider might ever imagine, as are the people who indulge in the pursuit!

Second Life clearly illustrates this paradox. Few of us would disagree with the statement that SL is a community – it bears all the hallmarks of being so, yet dig a little deeper and you’ll find that there is a huge disparity amongst the people who spend their time inworld. To some, SL is a game; to others, a virtual world; a business platform; a social medium; a creativity tool; an escape from the pressures of everyday life… And it can be any combination of these things to any one individual at any time.

Our reasons for spending our time in SL may see us sharing common interests with others – music, role play, romance, games or any combination of many varied pursuits that may mirror or even be at complete variance to our RL interests. Then again, we might choose to absent ourselves from the company of others whilst inworld, or perhaps interact with them on a strictly business footing. To call the assemblage of people who are connected through the device of SL a community, is perhaps stretching a point – we certainly share an environment, and within that environment we may well take part in community based activities, but just how closely do we really connect to the majority of the people with whom we share SL in real terms?

sunray3_001And speaking of reality, the real people behind the avatars really have very little in common too. We will share certain attributes, such as a means of accessing the virtual world and a shared understanding of the manner in which it works, but apart from the odd twist of fate and chance connection, the vast majority of us will have very little in common – in real terms – with those with whom we spend our time inworld. If we were to meet outside SL what are the chances that our real world communities would happen to encompass those same people with whom we spend our time in SL?

So, with regard to those in the oustide world those who do not share our interest in a virtual existence, we face something of a challenge in explaining the allure of SL and the community that we feel we are part of – on the face of it, it’s a fairly straightforward matter to rationalise partaking in what SL has to offer, but try to explain the relationships and friendships that arise from it, the connections that we feel so strongly, and the attachments we forge within virtual groupings of arbitrary and otherwise unconnected human beings – apart from the tenuous link of a shared interest – and we may struggle to engage those who have never experienced those sort of bonds.

How many of us, when we log out, become entirely different people… Leaving behind the virtual construct that we like to think of as a community, to rejoin the real communities of which we are a part in our real lives.

Or, is that the one vital ingredient that some of us may feel we are missing in the real world anyway?

s. x

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
Nouela – The Sound Of Silence

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment