Mid-life crisis – we tend to associate it with men getting hair transplants and buying Hawaiian shirts and sports cars and, i dare say, we all have a mental picture of your typical middle-aged crisis sufferer, or maybe we have someone who springs to mind when the phrase is mentioned.
Although it’s traditionally a male preserve, i’m of the opinion that women are just as likely to go through some form of mid-life crisis as men are, for that matter couples do too – on reaching a certain age, or state of mind, it’s not unusual for anyone – no matter what their sex or status – to suddenly undergo a personality change or do something unexpected and out of character. i think it’s about realising that a significant portion of one’s life has passed by and that the good old days of craziness and mad happenings are a long way in the past – far too long ago for comfort. Perhaps it’s a realisation that life has become somewhat dull, predictable and boring and that some, if not a great deal, of the fun has gone out of it – and that’s why people get it into their heads that it’s time to recapture the days of their youth, or to get their act together and make all those unfulfilled wishes come true, before they’re too old to appreciate them, or physically manage it!
All this sounds somewhat negative, and of course that’s generally how such things are viewed from the outside, particularly when – on the part of the person going through the crisis – little thought is paid to the consequences or, as is often the case, other more important responsibilities take a back seat. With that in mind, it’s little wonder that we use the word ‘crisis’ – people panic when they think that time is running out – but is it always necessarily a negative thing?
Take away the clumsy manner in which the change is often made and you’re left with a simple premise – it’s a realisation that life is actually for living and a very real attempt to rise above the ruts in life that many of us manage to make our home. Surely that’s a positive thing and, if you think about it, something to be encouraged – albeit with a little care and common sense!
So, where has this rather odd topic sprung from? mainly from conversations that i’ve had with various people inworld. SL does tend to focus the mind on the possibilities in life, inasmuch that it allows us to partake of activities that we’re either reluctant or unable to indulge, in rl. Few are actually impossible although, indeed, there may well be things we do in sl that were once very much a part of our real world lives but, for various reasons, are no longer. Then there are those things that we’d dearly love to try in rl but money, commitments, peer pressure or other barriers stand in their way… a large number of these latter activities are precisely those that we might associate with a mid-life crisis. Does being part of sl mean that we are more likely to ‘go off the rails’ in rl, borne of frustration at being prevented in the real world from pursuing those distractions that are so easily obtainable in the virtual world? Or does sl act as a safety valve, allowing us to pursue our dreams – to a degree – without compromising our rl stability? i’m sure there’s the basis for a decent academic thesis there… don’t expect any answers to those questions in this blog though!
Let’s consider sl itself for a moment – is there such a thing as a mid-SLife crisis? Do we ever reach a point in our virtual life where the realisation that sl has become boring and routine dawns upon us? A moment when we look back at our early days with a wistful sigh and wonder why we no longer get up to the crazy things we once did? Knowing that the sl/rl divide is rarely well-defined and that, psychologically sl often mimics rl, it seems to me inevitable that some people, at least, will experience some sort of virtual crisis as their online life plateaus out and they experience the same sort of feelings about sl as they might experience if in the same position in rl.
As to when exactly mid-SLife occurs, i wouldn’t like to hypothesise but i’d take a stab at the point at which all the shiny fantasticality has worn off – when we’ve settled into a regular and predictable routine. The point at which invitations to events have become an annoyance, rather than an escapade; when the size of our virtual wardrobe is more of a pain than a pleasure and when an interruption to our expected schedule results in us standing around, wondering what to do, rather than exploring new Sims.
Perhaps that describes you and, perhaps, i’m completely wrong in my assumptions but whatever the case, of one thing i’m sure… rl or sl: neither are getting any longer and both are meant to be lived to the full!
I remember running through the wet grass
And falling a step behind
Both of us never tiring
Better Than Ezra – Desperately Wanting