There are some things simply guaranteed to make you cringe: that moment your mum digs out the family album at a party and shows off those pictures of you nude in the paddling pool as a child; the cheerful wave you give at the sound of a car horn before you realise it’s somebody you don’t know at all; and, the humiliation of tripping catastrophically over a paving slab, as those in the street around you give marks out of ten for artistic merit.
As a blogger, one should never look back at posts from the past – particularly those from way back in those heady, early days, when you had no idea what you were doing, and the only people reading were your best friends anyway. It’s a mistake, and one i made recently when, out of sheer nostalgia, i looked up some of the first posts that ever graced the .net, (don’t bother searching for them – i’ve sealed them away in a vault, to which only i have the key!).
Quite apart from the sheer sense of sadness that filled me when i realised that every one of the people i mentioned in those first few posts – dating from June 2010 – have left sl, quite possibly forever, the utter direness and poor quality of my writing made me squirm! There are those who might think it’s not up to much even now, but believe me, today i’m a veritable Pulitzer prizewinner compared to those early attempts!
Whilst the writing may have been pretty dreadful, some of the ideas i was tinkering with weren’t quite so bad. Take this snapshot, for example, from June 10th, 2010:
“My current ponderings revolve around this whole rl/sl personality thing. Personally, i think there’s probably 3 distinct kinds of people on sl… those who are really nothing like their sl identity and use it to explore being crazy, or super-attractive, or sexual monsters or perhaps bunny rabbits. The second kind, like me, find it difficult to separate their rl selves from sl – for me sl is a natural extension of my persona – i can’t hide behind my sl identity… ‘me’ just keeps forcing it’s way through. The third kind of person – well, i really don’t know – i guess they must exist, just haven’t worked out what they are yet.”
So, what has the wisdom of the years taught me since writing that pithy little dissertation? Well, surprisingly little has changed in my mind, to be honest. Maybe the ideas have become a little more rounded and well-formed, (as do many things with the passing of time), but basically those words still sum up my view of the majority of sl inhabitants. As for that ‘third kind of person’, whose definition so eluded me back then, with the benefit of hindsight and – sometimes bitter – experience, i’d suggest they lie at the opposite end of the spectrum to those for whom the real and virtual personæ are like chalk and cheese. These then are the poor, tormented souls for whom sl holds greater validity than the real world: those whose virtual life comes first and foremost and is probably more tangible and meaningful to them than the real thing. Here you will find the true drama whores, beasts and bitches… tangle with them at your peril!
This triumvirate of alter-egos forms a continuum: at one extreme you have the complete escapists, whilst at the other extreme we have those who’ve sold their souls to sl. Along the line linking the two, there are varying degrees of immersion, with those like myself slap bang in the middle – in some ways neither of this world or the other, whilst in other ways, entirely caught up in both: the hybrid spawn of the need to both escape from reality, whilst keeping one foot on the solid ground of reason.
Ironically, to find myself in that position is perhaps the ultimate insult to self – if there’s one thing i could never aspire to, it’s middle of the road, sitting on the fence and being neither here nor there -but that’s indeed where i seem to have ended up. Lacking the strength of character to go towards the one extreme, whilst being too strong of character to move in the opposite direction – i’m in a geostationary orbit around the binary system of sl and rl, and – whether it suits me or not – it’s a happy medium where i seem to fit very comfortably.
Let’s hear it for mediocrity, folks!
And so, back into the archives that thought goes… perhaps i’ll dig it back out for an airing in another four years? If nothing else, it’ll give me a chance to look back at how dreadful my writing was in 2014!
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same