One of the great things about SL is that there are rarely any really bad decisions that you can make. Most difficult scenarios can be resolved by a quick switcheroo of the inventory, a judicious muting, or logging out whilst things cool back down. Money problems can be resolved fairly simply by dumping land or selling-up, or – perish the thought – not spending! And even the most toxic relationships need not spell disaster: when dumping a partner is simply a matter of clicking a button, with none of that ‘who gets the house and the kids’ hoohah and costly solicitors’ bills; indeed, some people change virtual spouses almost as often as they change their hair. Even if things were ever to get really unpleasant, having an alt handy can literally unlock a whole new life, with none of the problems of the old.
Not that there’s really all that much in the way of life-changing decisions to be made in Sl, (if you ignore the really big questions like, “The red boots? The blue? Or do I go the whole hog and blow all my loot on a fatpack?”), which is not to say that SL won’t ever exert its influence on the real world in a way that can be profound – we’ve all heard stories of neglect and broken RL relationships that have stemmed from SL. However, by and large, the choices and decisions we make inworld are unlikely to have significant lasting effects on our real lives, unless we do happen to strike it incredibly virtually rich, famous, or really do bump into our eventual life partner whilst taking a stroll along Giggles Beach.
Such things can, and do, happen but – out of the million or so SL account holders – it’s a relatively rare occurrence, and one that most of us will avoid in a whole virtual lifetime, during which the most world-shattering decisions we’ll generally have to make are barely going to ripple the fabric of our existence in the real world.
If only RL was that simple!
I suppose that’s one of the fundamental differences that defines the line between real and virtual – most of the time it’s the decisions we make in real life that decide how things will unfold for us, and unlike the choices we make in the virtual world, mistakes can be costly in every possible way. Pick the wrong partner, career or mortgage in RL, and you can spend a lifetime regretting it. Even small decisions can have big outcomes – walk down the wrong alleyway in the wrong neighbourhood, cross the road at the wrong moment and you could conceivably be taking a terminal risk. Wear the wrong outfit to an interview, study the wrong topic for an exam, or bet on the wrong horse and it could take years to put right the damage… and much of the time we have no idea what the outcomes of the choices we make – pretty much blindly – are going to be.
It’s one of the reasons that I’m incredibly good at vacillating, prevaricating and procrastinating when it comes to dealing with questions outside my comfort zone in RL. Do it long enough and with enough determination and the outcome is likely to be taken out of your hands, or the hand of opportunity will go away and knock elsewhere. The future is uncertain, and the thought of making it even more uncertain can be horribly unattractive.
Over the past few years I’ve promised myself that whatever life choices I make, whether they turn out to be good, bad or indifferent, that’s the choice I’ve made and it’s pointless harbouring regrets, ‘what ifs’ and dredging up the past in ritual self-humiliation. Que sera, sera. This is a ploy that has worked remarkably well, but it’s not infallible – and, to be absolutely honest, it makes a great excuse for not stepping up to the plate and occasionally taking a punt at a wild opportunity. If I don’t stick my head above the parapet, no-one can shoot me down. This is a little odd because I’m actually someone who isn’t afraid of change, indeed I’m quite partial to adapting, altering and developing new realms within my own experience and ability, and if there’s one thing the past couple of years have shown me, I’m more than capable of rising to the challenge of quite significant personal change, which you could say in some ways has indeed been life-changing to some extent.
And now I’m facing a bit of a dilemma – my workplace is undergoing a period of unprecedented change which has, in its turn, thrown up a potential opportunity that I’m finding hard to ignore. It’s a complete change of role, will involve an awful lot of travel and will expose me to situations and processes that are entirely new to me, but which I know I can master. Essentially it will mean project managing a multi-million pound IT infrastructure development, with a national remit, and thereafter… well, who knows? It will certainly be a game-changer for me, but am I just going to sit back and let the opportunity pass by?
By the time you read this, the decision will have been made, and I’ll have either bitten the bullet or be caught in the backdraft of a rapidly accelerating missed opportunity, which is precisely why I’ve delayed telling you about it. It’ll have to be my decision, and I’ll be making it on my own… so, let’s see what happens.
Did I, or didn’t I?
Will I take the fatpack, or walk away?
Indecisión me molesta
Si no me quieres, librame
Dime! ¿Qué tengo ser?
¿Sabes que ropa me quedar?
Pero tienes que decir
¿Me debo ir o quedarme?
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs – Should I Stay Or Should I Go