I think maybe I owe an apology – not to anybody in particular, but maybe to the virtual world in general. It’s an apology for over-simplifying certain aspects of virtual life, and lumping a whole range of behaviours and pursuits together under the umbrella term ‘peculiar’.
Let’s talk about SLex.
I’ve always maintained that the whole process of jumping on a poseball and getting jiggy in a bout of pixel porno is decidedly weird when you consider the mechanics of it, and even when such cartoon capery is taking place between two people who’ve established a deep and fulfilling relationship with each other, it can’t possibly compare to some of the alternatives available, such as picking up the phone, getting up close and personal over Skype or Facetime, or even – although I accept it’s not always possible, meeting up and doing the deed for real.
But, I’ve recently come to the astonishing conclusion that by holding this view, I may have been doing a disservice to the virtual community, and it’s even possible that I’ve misunderstood and missed entirely, a fundamental tenet that underpins this whole murky hinterland of SL.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t a whole bunch of people who manage to get their rocks off by watching avatarian nookie and talking dirty; of course there are, and it’s still something that baffles me, especially when there’s a great big interweb out there, not to mention real life, where a far more realistic version of that sort of thing is available, should you care to look for it. Even taking into account what I’m about to discuss, I really don’t see the attraction of computerised bonking… But, each to their own: YKINMK!
That’s where I think I was intellectually sidetracked, thinking that is all there is to SLex, but I’m starting to realise that it actually goes far deeper than that. They do say that the biggest sexual organ is the brain, and that – in the context of SL – is a game changer. Certainly, I would argue that there can be a certain amount of titillation to be found in watching pixels doing their thing, but bring the incredible power of imagination, emotion and creativity into play and any visual stimulus pales into insignificance beside it, even to the point where the visuals may even become completely superfluous and unnecessary.
In the real world, in my own experience, there is often a correlation between exercising mental acuity and emotional intelligence, abd the ability to experience satisfaction, contentment, and enlightenment in that particular aspect of one’s life. And I may be wrong, but within the circle of people that I know who happen to have an interest in the more esoteric of these pursuits and lifestyles, there seems to be a much higher proportion of high achievers, professionals and academics than what we might traditionally associate in our minds with sexual proclivity. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and so on seem to me to far outnumber the ‘flasher mac’ and grunt and groan, dirty old man brigade in the D/s, rope, fetish and BDSM communities, and I don’t think that’s mere coincidence. These are people who in other aspects of their lives are generally very adept at creative and abstract thinking, problem solving, and managing their emotions – people who are capable of expressing themselves in situations and circumstances that many might feel uncomfortable and struggle to relate to, and it must follow that they can apply that same talent and capability to the naughtier side of life.
It is precisely this particular type of mind that can also relate well, and is attracted to, the virtual environment. A state of mind that relishes the challenges that arise from the virtual world, and it’s no wonder that at least some part of that thinking is gainfully employed in bringing certain alternative lifestyles inworld. And SL is fertile ground indeed for exploring that side of human experience. I find people who embrace this perspective fascinating to get to know – almost invariably they are incredibly intelligent, open-minded, and have a story to tell… A story that is often still evolving and changing dynamically as they write new chapters upon its pages. They tend to have a very real sense of self and their place in the world – something that I happen to think is a real asset in a virtual world. The other benefit of possessing this kind of intelligent outlook is that your capacity to extemporise in any given situation can only serve to enhance your inworld experience – and if that experience happens to be bumping your bones, or engaging in a bit of slap, tickle and tie-up, then what happens to be unfolding on the screen in front of you is really only ancillary to the main action, the bulk of which is happening in the minds of the participants, demonstrated throughthe methods they employ to express what they are thinking.
Having come to this realisation – culled from RL experience, and from frank and honest discussion with friends inworld – I’m starting to gain an appreciation that SLex, on this more involved and cerebral basis is a very different beast to my previous ‘just jump on a poseball and nip off to brew a cuppa while your avatar gets on with the business’ assumptions, and that for those who really apply themselves to the task at hand, it is an emotional and highly evocative moment. Those who do indeed know what they are doing can develop, in a simple IM exchange, an all-encompassing and enthralling scenario in words alone… Nobody needs to get naked, there’s no clever equipment and scripting involved; it’s all down to the mind and the imagination.
Nobody can deny that sex is a big thing in SL, but like so many things inworld, it can be done badly, but then again, I’m starting to think that it could also be almost sublime – but, if it is going to be the latter, then it’s something you really do have to work at, otherwise it really is just pixels… Which is fine if that happens to work for you.
But, if it ever came down to it… I know that I’d want you for your mind, not your body!
Tell me now, baby, is he good to you?
And can he do to you the things that I do? Oh no
I can take you higher
Oh oh oh, I’m on fire
Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire