However we may choose to relate to sl – be it as a game, an immersive online experience, an expression of creativity, or whatever – whether we’re aware of it or not, it manages to pervade our thought processes in ways that perhaps we wouldn’t credit. That’s why we find ourselves drawn to sl, sometimes despite ourselves… we keep coming back to it and to all things sl-related. That, in part is one of the reasons you’re reading this blog right now.
At a recent Phoenix Firestorm Office Hour, Jessica Lyon made a very valid point (45’40”) – one that i think most of us would subscribe to, even though far fewer of us might admit to it: simply this – even with the best will in the world, no matter how hard you might try, you’re not going to understand what it means to be a resident of sl unless you’ve spent time in sl as a resident. In plain terms, as residents, sl is going to touch us and affect us in ways that someone outside the virtual world is simply not going to understand – by the same token, it can be very hard to explain exactly how we connect to, and with, sl – we just know that we do and this can manifest itself in strange ways.
We’ve all experienced that blurring of rl and sl boundaries – those occasions when we experience momentary confusion over objects and which life we own them in… the times we’ve answered the ‘phone and given our avatar name… the moments we give vent to a gesture in rl… and so on. It works the other way too – there are times when sl will trigger an rl response, and this is particularly noticeable in the realm of memory.
There are places that i can go in sl that will evoke rl memories – i can be reminded of rl places, people and events in the past simply by virtue of my virtual surroundings. Similarly, rl memories can be triggered, quite unexpectedly, by an sl place or situation, and it can happen without warning and be extremely potent.
Quite how sl can bring deeply embedded memories to the fore can be quite shocking, in both content and intensity – and seemingly trivial events can unlock memories that may have been buried in our subconscious for years, even decades, along with the emotions, feelings and other interconnected memories and moments from our past. This happened to me fairly recently, when a completely innocent and innocuous activity resulted in a whole string of memories surfacing that, to all intents and purposes, had been lost for decades.
It was at a club i’d not been to before – to be honest, i felt a little like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole: The music, along with most of the hair, clothing and decor was strictly old-school disco – quite definitely not my thing at all – but i had friends there, the atmosphere was friendly and i felt welcome, so i endured it! Then an opportunity for a bit of daftness presented itself – some light relief that i could occupy myself with. ‘Feel free to try out the trapeze above the dance floor’, came the announcement… so, of course, i did!
Now, Cirque du Soleil have nothing to fear from me in the way of competition – i wasn’t made for the high-wire, trapeze or anything where a safety net may be required. i much prefer to keep my feet firmly upon the ground, even so, i think i performed brilliantly!
Dangling precariously by my legs, some crazy distance above the ground, suspended only on what amounted to a large dowel, i suddenly experienced the most astonishing feeling of deja vu! Many years ago, as a young child, my sister and i were given a play set by my parents – it was a proper, solid wood and metal set that included a swing, a couple of those hanging rings that you only ever see gymnasts with huge biceps use in the bits of the Olympics that most people skip over, and a trapeze. Hanging there, on my virtual trapeze, i suddenly experienced the most profound and rich memories of the rl times i spent in the garden falling off playing on that real trapeze; the way it would twist and refuse to behave itself; the thrill of hanging upside down with the imminent danger of smashing my head against the frighteningly close ground beneath it; the horrible discomfort of trying to sit on a thin wooden pole that was never designed to be sat upon, and just how painful the hard wood against the back of my knees was when i did try to dangle upside-down, (bruises to prove it too!).
Along with those memories came many others – how i used to swing as high and fast as i could, looking over the hedge at the top of each arc, to peer into the garden next door. How the swing frame became a ‘den’ one year… and they just kept coming. Quite remarkable how all these distant memories were suddenly as clear and vibrant as if it happened only yesterday, carrying me away to a place in the past that i’d completely forgotten.
Happy days indeed… thank you sl. 🙂
I’m thinking of the days,
I won’t forget a single day, believe me.
The Kinks – Days