That is not true.
What is true, is that with hard work, dedication, the right attitude and a wide variety of other rare commodities including – but not exclusive to – money, circumstance, opportunity, social standing, support, timing and talent, we might achieve a modicum of success – perhaps even a good measure of success – at something that might approximate a realistic view of what we’d like to be. Sadly, in the real world, ambition is tempered by reality – dreams may well be what motivate us to work towards success, but the harsh truth is that they will probably stay dreams for the rest of our lives. Real life, no matter what they might tell you, rarely allows us to choose what we want to be, and even when it does, the reality tends not to live up to the dream.
In contrast, Second Life – with relatively few constraints – does indeed permit us to be who we would like to be, in the broadest possible sense. There is, of course, the caveat that if we want to be rich or successful, even in a virtual world, then we’ll need to invest time, energy and hard cash, as well as bringing real world skills to bear which by their very nature we might not posess. That aside, there’s absolutely nothing to stop us achieving pretty much anything else we want, and – more importantly – being exactly who, or what, we might want to be: male, female, furry, vampire, builder, dancer, escort… the list is as vast as our imaginations, and every single thing on that list – no matter how outlandish – is perfectly achievable.
Not only can we live the dream, we can re-invent it, tweak it and change it to suit our mood and inclination – but would it work in real life? If the real world was as accomodating as sl, what sort of a place would it be?
My initial thoughts are that it would actually be in a pretty disfunctional state: with a disproportionately large segment of the population employed as DJs or managing clubs! Relatively few would want to work, and those who did would be almost entirely concerned with clothes design, home furnishing or building. Vast swathes of essential professions would be crippled through lack of practitioners and life for the majority would revolve around music and dancing, shopping and being chased – semi-naked – around beaches.
It’s possible the world would become a more creative place, with greater respect for the arts and crafts than seems to be the case at present; we’d likely also see a move towards individualism, with people expressing themselves far more readily through styles of dress and personal expression than we’re used to. Uniformity and conformity would become dirty words, and the bizarre would become both commonplace and accepted without question. The world might be a happier place, but i can’t help feeling that there are some ways in which such a model is inherently flawed and would ultimately lead to disaster.
Take away those restrictive aspects that are so much part and parcel of our real world – the limiting factors that hold fame, fortune and success in check – and suddenly everyone not only wants to be a superstar or hero, but is entirely capable of achieving that goal. Not only do we end up with a world entirely populated by high achievers and the successful, where the mundane but necessary tasks are neglected and looked down upon, but we also end up with a world where self-actualisation becomes so commonplace that it loses its value. When we can all be who and what we want to be, what is left to for us to strive for? What is there to motivate us, and how can we possibly move onwards and upwards?
When our hopes and dreams can be handed to us on a plate, where is the true worth in that? Certainly it would be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience at first, but eventually i’m certain we’d tire of it; life would become intrinsically dull and boring, and we’d find ourselves in the awful position of having achieved our dreams and finding them, ultimately, to be not worth having.
Personally, i love that sl allows me to be all those things i can’t in rl – but it’s precisely because i can’t do them for real that they’re so much fun and so rewarding in sl. And maybe – just maybe – that’s how it should be?
Henry, sells junk
Candles, Lampshades to air rifles
But he don’t know, where they will all go
The antiques roadshow, maybe
Someday, trying to make some money
Twisted Wheel – Strife