Just lately the world – both virtual, and that other one – seems to have developed an extraordinary depth of soul-searching and self-reflection, in some ways a disturbingly poignant introspection that i haven’t noticed before.
Yes, the levity and humour are still there in abundance, but if i scratch the surface it seems that almost everywhere there are raw nerves to be exposed, barely suppressed feelings of angst and an almost palpable sense of ‘putting on a brave face’, against the harsh reality of… well, reality.
Perhaps it’s just my own mood – hyper-sensitively tuning into imagined neediness, maybe; or perhaps people really are generally having a hard time of it right now, and rather than bottle it all up, keeping a stiff upper lip and grinning and bearing things the way they normally would, people are finding it difficult to prevent their feelings of anxiety from oozing through the cracks in their emotional defences. i keep running across people who seem to be desperately clinging to sl and their virtual friendships as an antidote to the less than kind ministrations of rl. Or i find myself reading blogs where you can almost feel the tremble in the voice of the person whose world you’re sharing, with words that only thinly disguise a whole plethora of barely hidden unspoken feelings.
Perhaps i’m just reading too much into things, maybe i need to step back and grab a good measure of perspective and soda, chill out and stop over-thinking? Or maybe the world has indeed started on the course of some great downward curve and the vibes that i’m getting are indicative of the general feeling of people out there. It’s just a little shocking how intense and widespread those feelings seem to be.
Is it that the rarefied atmosphere of sl serves to polarise people’s feelings – that by its very nature – because it takes us away from the real world – we naturally gravitate to its safety and the security of our virtual friends – a place that is far from the oppressiveness of reality? Or do the commonalities that we share in the sl community, both inworld and through the paraphernalia that surrounds it, allow us to reveal more of ourselves at those times when we feel isolated, cut off and alone?
Then again, are people any different from how they always are? Have people involved with sl always been this way – somewhat fragile, needy (and that’s not meant in a nasty way), and precarious – yet i’ve been too much caught up in my own little world to even notice? It’s quite possible, i suppose – it’s the way that most of us go about our everyday lives… however, that feels wrong. For some reason, when i see someone venting their feelings or reaching out in sl, or through the blogosphere for a lifeline – something to grasp hold of that will draw them out of the morass of problems that the real world imposes: work and family pressures, ill-health, uncertainty, difficulties, depression and simple despondency, it’s not something i can blithely ignore. Gone are the days when the mere fact of not knowing you, or the awareness that our paths will never cross other than in the form of pixels and words created a wall of indifference that enabled me to sally forth on my own adventures, without a thought for those i share the virtual world with – something has fundamentally changed.
Don’t ask me what exactly has altered, how or why – i couldn’t tell you – perhaps it’s because there have been a few things i’ve been involved in recently that have changed my perception of what it means to be part of a ‘community’ – but perhaps that has nothing to do with it either. It could just be that i find it easier to relate to those in sl than those in the real world – whatever the cause; of one thing i’m certain – in some bizarre and perverse way, sl has taught me things about human nature that, for some reason, rl has singularly failed to do.
And, for that, i’m grateful.
I need you to help me carry on
You need me need you need him need everyone…
Lindisfarne – January Song