Recently a lot of friends seem to have been celebrating their rez days – many of them first logged in to sl back in the days when the ‘frontier spirit’ was still very much in evidence. Buy them a drink and get them reminiscing and it won’t be long before the stories of the ‘good old days’ – when gambling and sex was to be found everywhere – start pouring out. i do seem to have a lot of friends for whom that was the golden age of sl, whereas for a comparative newcomer, like me, sl has always been a slightly more sanitised version of a virtual world – that’s not to say it doesn’t have its seedy parts, but it’s a lot more difficult to to just stumble across them by mistake these days.
It seems that most of my companions are all around the 4-6 year age bracket and it’s fair to say that in my travels around sl, it’s not very often that i run into avatars much older than that – i’m not sure whether anything should be deduced from that… there’s a whole load of reasons that it might be the case.
Age is a funny old thing though when considered within the environment of sl – what seems to be a relatively straightforward concept can become extremely ill-defined and obtuse when subjected to the rather odd world of virtual living. If Einstein thought relativity was a tricky subject, then faced with virtual relativity, he may well have decided to go back to checking patents for a living.
Let’s consider that seemingly straightforward indication of age – the rez date. A friend recently celebrated their 6th rez day, which makes them 6 sl years old, right? Not necessarily – it’s quite possible that their current avatar is not the first they created: a scenario that’s true of a great many residents of sl, (myself included!). You may argue that a rez date is still a reliable indicator of ‘age’, since it relates to that individual avatar – which is fine, but if i was to create an alt today and make that my primary avatar, can i really profess to being only a day old?
If that’s not misleading enough for you, then how are we to consider actual time ‘served’? Is someone who first logged in for a few weeks back in 2006, but then took a 5 year break six year’s old? A year? The sum total of the time they’ve spent logged in? And what about people who spend all day, every day logged in as opposed to ‘casual’ residents, who might spend a few hours a week inworld – how do we decide on an avatar’s ‘age’? Is an alt logged in 24/7 to create traffic, but otherwise inactive any different to its owner’s primary avatar that spends less time logged in, but achieves infinitely more?
All of which takes absolutely no account of the true age of the real person behind the avatar, which for the vast majority of sl purposes, is not only completely immaterial but also has absolutely no connection with either the rezzed age or the purported age of the avatar. There’s been some talk in the Blogosphere recently about how ‘mature’ avatars are under-represented in sl – for me this is a completely spurious observation: i doubt very much that there’s any measurable correlation between real age and avatar age and – given the opportunity to look young and beautiful – wouldn’t most people choose that anyway, no matter what their age? It’s just possible that the reason senior avatars are not the norm in sl is simply that the userbase is also under-represented in that age group and people gravitate to their own normality, then again, it could just be one of those unexplainable things. Similarly, there are an awful lot of cats, dogs and hamster avatars in sl… does this mean that Rex, Tiddles and Hammy are sneaking time on their owner’s computers when nobody’s around… unlikely, i’d have thought.
It’s all a bit of a daft construct anyway – age, whether virtual or real, has no meaning in sl… whether we were around as beta testers when sl was first conceived or today is our first day inworld, we are really only as old as our current session – when we log out, we ‘die’, until being magically restored to ‘life’ on our next login. In fact, coming to think of it, even that’s incorrect – in sl, our avatars are destroyed and re-created in their entirety in the blink of an eye, with every single frame. Our pixellated lives are but an infinitesimal moment in time, and then we are gone, only to be re-drawn an instant later.
Who cares how old we are? It’s how old we feel that matters, and whether we make the most of the time that we have, virtual or real, whilst we have it.
The simple things you see are all complicated
I look pretty young, but I’m just back-dated, yeah.
The Who – Substitute