We’ve all laughed over misheard lyrics in songs, despite which, our minds work in such a way that even when we know the real words, we’ll still stubbornly persist with our own warped interpretation anyway. It’s one of the quirks of humanity that I find quite endearing and which defines us as being more than purely logical, rational machines. We’re pretty adept at accepting the illogical and irrational, and adapting so that such things fit seamlessly with our world view. In many ways it’s a necessary survival strategy – if we were unable to cope with the illogical and counter-intuitive things of the world, such as the waging of war and blatant, wilful acceptance of social inequality, then we’d all be doomed to an existence where the everyday business of living would become a struggle that would simply tear us apart.
On a lighter note, that very same principle that enables us to mediate the irrational and ridiculous permits us to explore our creativity in SL without losing our sanity or sense of perspective in the process.
To return to the business of mishearing things… Whilst waiting for the train this morning, an announcement came over the tannoy – what I thought I heard was that a train had been delayed due to ‘existential engineering’… A bizarre but fun concept that my mind leapt upon with glee!
In the real world, our lives are very much governed by our circumstances – existence is all about surviving, wrestling with the choices life demands we make, and finding ways to deal with the world and the way it impacts upon our lives. Our jobs and responsibilities determine ‘what’ we are and how we act; and our lifestyles are very much a product of our environment. We have some influence over our circumstances, and we do what we can to attain some degree of individuality, but – in the main – life tells us what to do and how things are. We are very much subject to the whims of fate, continually tossed around on the sea of life and blown by the winds of fortune. The best we can do is often just to go with the flow and make the best of circumstances, with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. That’s not to say we can’t triumph – we can, and do – but, when it comes to engineering those successes, we can only work with the tools at our disposal, and within the constraints of our situation and circumstances.
Much as we may bemoan our lot, most of us are – in the main – pretty satisfied with maintaining that status quo. We prefer life to play by the rules and to follow patterns that make logical and practical sense, even if that often leads to a foregone conclusion that isn’t always completely satisfactory, we take a pragmatic view and accept that life is something that most happens to us and that our influence on it is fairly limited in the wider scale of things.
However, unleash us in SL and everything changes! No longer subject to arbitrary or fixed rules, we a free to engineer our own worlds and our own second lives. We can do what we want, when we want and however we want to do it: Our existence is no longer a product of the world around us and its influence. Instead, who and what we are shapes that world and creates an environment that is in harmony with our wants and needs; one which reflects and enhances our character and our dreams, rather than stifling and constraining them. If we stick with the engineering analogy, not only does SL provide us with a vast array of tools, but also a limitless supply of materials with which we can construct an existence that fulfils and facilitates our ambitions. We actually create our own vicariously experienced reality, instead of fitting in to one that the world has shaped for us.
And some people call it a game!
So move away Jimmy Blue
Before your small, small town turns around
And swallows you
Del Amitri – Move Away Jimmy Blue