When my friends are logged on, but not in the immediate vicinity, I can’t help wondering what they’re up to and where they are – of course, I could simply IM and ask, but even though I may be nosey, I’m also a bit shy (no, really!) and I don’t like to intrude. The truth of the matter is probably quite mundane – people are either going to be exploring, shopping, socialising or getting on with whatever their particular forte is in SL – building, roleplaying, DJ-ing, hanging around doing nothing much, etc. Even so, the fact that I don’t know what they’re up to means that I automatically tend to think it’s a lot more exciting than it probably is.
It never occurred to me that others might be wondering the same about me.
“So what do you do when you’re up in the sky all that time then?”, was the question that came up in the conversation after it was pointed out that I’d been online and in the same sim as my friends for at least an hour, during which I’d kept myself to myself up in my little moon high above the clouds. It wasn’t just this occasion – during an average week, I’ll usually spend a decent proportion of my time hanging out on my own, in and around my home plot. At other times, I’ll be out and about exploring and doing all the other things that everyone else gets up to, but the amount of time that I do spend with other people, sharing the virtual experience is actually pretty small. I reckon at least 70% of my time inworld is spent doing my own thing – and I wonder how representative of the general virtual community this is?
As for what I do get up to when I’m hidden away, well I’m afraid that’s pretty mundane and boring in the main – I do spend an inordinate amount of time unpacking boxes, trying on clothes and rezzing my latest acquisitions, whilst desperately trying to stay in control of my ever-expanding inventory. Indeed, it’s not unknown for me to spend a couple of hours in the confines of my little changing room in the sky, simply working my way through outfits, and categorising them into folders. Hardly the rock ‘n’ roll virtual lifestyle that some seem to think I live!
I also seem to spend far more time than you’d expect doing very little at all: I can often be found loitering without intent somewhere on my land, just enjoying the ambience, and basically, dossing about. I’ll fiddle with the odd object, tweak my surroundings, perhaps move the occasional item around, but apart from that, I’d be hard pushed to explain exactly what it is that I’m doing to fill my time.
Yet others seem to be under the impression that whenever I’m not around I’m up to all sorts of wild, wacky, fun and important things. I’m sure that when I’m incommunicado, my friends think I’m out saving the virtual world, overseeing huge engineering projects, boldly going where no avatar has gone before, or pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in SL. The reality is more likely to be that I’m debating whether to buy a pair of shoes, or fiddling with some foliage at Nowhere Land. I’m certain that no-one else thinks my virtual life is as unexciting as that because of the comments and questions I’m regularly asked… “What project are you working on at the moment?”, “What are you currently building?”, “What interesting things have you been up to lately?” – erm… none of the above!
I don’t know whether it’s simply human nature, or a by-product of being in a virtual world, but it does seem that we’re all under the impression that everybody else is having a far more exciting time than we are. When someone is conspicuous by their absence, to our mind it’s never that they’re hunting down a new pair of jeans or struggling to get their alphas to cover their naughty bits – we automatically think that they’re hobnobbing with the virtual rich and famous, saving the planet from invading alien hordes or orchestrating world-changing projects that defy description. If we’re a little more prosaic, perhaps we don’t assume our friends are enjoying quite such a roller-coaster of a Second Life, but we still make the assumption that whatever they’re doing, it’s a lot more interesting than what we’re occupying our time with.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing… It’ll be a sad day indeed that SL becomes so dreary that we can’t imagine that someone, at least, is having a wild time, even if it doesn’t happen to be ourselves!
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar
And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on?
4 Non Blondes – What’s Up