Sometimes it’s all too easy to forget that not only is there a real person behind the avatar, but a real life too, and sometimes that real life takes twists and turns – occasionally unexpected – that starkly return us to a perspective that we tend to avoid.
Last year, i found myself following the harrowing journey of a much-loved sl resident whose blog spoke of her failing health and the good times in the past that she’d enjoyed through sl. When the posts finally stopped, i found myself in tears over a person i’d never met, a person whose real world touched mine, through the stories of her virtual life.
SL has brought me close to many people, many of whom i wouldn’t know if i passed them in the street in rl, yet i feel i’ve been part of their stories and their lives: the births, romances, marriages and deaths; the accidents and injuries; the moves, changes and difficulties. None of these have any true connection with the virtual world, but they are all reminders that the pixels we chat to and dance with, the writers, storytellers and creators that fill our virtual lives have a real life that will, and must, necessarily break through our happy little bubble on occasion.
Real life is like that – Nalate’s latest post causes me real concern and a fervent hope that she’s ok, and when other – normally prolific – bloggers fall silent, for no apparent reason, i worry too.
Do we see ourselves as virtual people, as real people with a virtual existence, or some sort of hybrid? You see, when i write here, and when i’m inworld, the real world is very much forgotten – i’m not me, i’m my avatar. So i resent it when the real world insists on making its presence known and – wherever possible – i really do try to keep my two lives very much apart and in their respective places. Most of us probably do, to some extent, no matter how much we might profess that we’re the same in rl and sl: the two lives are in fact very different.
One of the ways in which that difference is starkly evident is the way in which huge, maybe cataclysmic changes may occur for us inworld, yet real life continues with scarcely a ripple to indicate anything at all has happened. Certainly some of the baggage that comes with sl change can make its way into the real world – particularly when it comes to emotions and feelings – but overall, the impact that such things have on everyday life tends to be fleeting and fairly negligible in the overall scale of things. Turn things on their head though and it’s a very different picture – even small and insignificant changes in our rl circumstances can impact massively upon our virtual lives, and such things can creep up on us without warning.
Everything from a simple laptop failure right the way through to the most extreme of life changes can completely wreck our ability to function and interact even at the most basic of levels in sl. A simple technical problem can leave us bereft of our second life, whilst our inworld friends and associates are left puzzled and often fearing the worst. Conversely, when life hands us lemons, sl can be a safe haven where we can maintain a semblance of normality completely at variance with what is happening outside our computer screens – our lives may be falling apart in the real world, yet still we dance, and chat, and shop in our virtual escape pods.
Then there are those real life changes and unexpected glitches for which we’re unprepared and which leave us without a clue as to how our lives – both real and virtual – are going to be altered as a result.
Next Tuesday, i start a new job: it was unexpected and abrupt – i’ve had less than a week’s notice and it’s not been my choice. It’s a new role, new location, new team, new discipline and a new boss – should be a doddle! It’s been one of those ‘somebody making a decision to meet the needs of the business, and if you don’t like it, tough!’ situations, and i have absolutely no idea what it means for me.
My hope is that things inworld will go on much the same as always… but, if things become a little erratic, disjointed, or just different to what i laughingly refer to as normal around these parts, don’t panic – i haven’t died, gone crazy (well, crazier), or been abducted by aliens… it’s just that life – the real one – can be an interfering bitch.
Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight
There is no message we’re receiving
Let me know, is your heart still beating?
The Killers – Human