You are not, apparently, fully dressed without a smile; the whole world, allegedly, smiles with you when you do, and according to popular culture, it takes fewer muscles to smile than to punch someone in the nose.
Knowing me as you do, you might be surprised to find that I wholeheartedly endorse all of those sentiments and I happen to think that smiling is one of those important things at everyone’s disposal that we can employ to make our own lives, and the lives of those around us, that little bit better without any drama or cost.
Smiling is something that I wish I did a lot more of in the real world, but you know how it is – hard day at work, stress and pressure, problems, deadlines and demands all exert their toll, followed by a trudge home in the rain on a cold and grey day, to collapse – worn out – on the sofa for an evening of nothing much. All too often, I can go a whole day without breaking into a smile, and I those around me don’t seem to do much better, either.
Yet smiling, as any number of sources will attest to, is good for us – it gives us an emotional, physical and spiritual boost, it makes us feel good and helps us to deal with difficulties, and – like yawning – it can be hopelessly contagious. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be working in a room full of smiling people, than be surrounded by frowns and furrowed brows.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s one thing that is almost guaranteed to bring a smile to my face, in fact it goes further than that and has been known to reduce me to helpless tears of laughter: And the magic happens shortly after I click that button which bears the legend ‘Log in’.
I happened to mention to some friends recently that I spend more time smiling and laughing during the course of a couple of hours inworld than in the whole of the rest of my day prior to logging in – rather than being met with sympathetic smiles and reassurances that one day things would get better and real life would improve, the response was a resounding ‘so do we!’ from all of my friends. I’m not the only one, it seems, for whom SL is an antidote to the banality and sobriety of the real world.
It’s not really magic either: I don’t login and instantly feel a broad smile crossing my countenance – there is nothing instrinsically mirthful about SL, although there will be, just as there are in RL, locations, scenarios and situations that will naturally lift my spirits. What really makes a difference though is what happens when SL time is shared with others…
This is when the real magic takes place: The daft and witty comments, the ridiculous conversations and the trading of friendly insults. It’s the coming together of the mad and the bad, the good and the gormless with their opinions, stories and all manner of nonsense that we try so hard to suppress in the real world but floods out in playful wild abandon once we’re inworld. Then there’s the ridiculous things we get up to, the daft typos, unintended double entendres and cringeworthy anecdotes, whilst all the time we’re enjoying those things we share in common with a whole bunch of people – music, art, and a myriad of other pursuits – for which we might struggle to find even one partner in crime in RL.
All of these things make me feel good: They make me smile, laugh, occasionally spit my drink over my monitor and frequently see me rolling about laughing – if not on the floor, then certainly doubled up on my sofa, incomprehensible and incapable of doing anything but laugh, and that makes me feel so good!
The stereotypical image people would have you believe of the virtual world enthusiast is a geeky, antisocial and rather sad individual… well, I beg to differ – because in my experience the average SL resident – when inworld – is a happy, whimsical, amusing and often ridiculously funny person, indeed the last thing I’d describe them as is ‘sad’.
Give me a few hours with that sort of person in RL every day, and every day I’d have something to smile about :)
You’d better smile
Smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile, smile
Cause that’s all that you’ve got left
The Supernaturals – Smile