We human beings are awfully clever at finding innovative ways to navigate the sometimes indeterminate pathways of life. We’ve evolved brains that are adept at making sense of situations where real and tangible facts are in short supply, although unfortunately the conclusions we may come to, may not necessarily make as much sense as might be achieved through simple logical deduction, or an analysis of the facts to hand. Although it does make for an interesting life.
Phenomena, such as pareidolia – I saw Elvis in my cornflakes – demonstrate how, when faced with a deficit of information, our brain will often come to a rational conclusion that is far from rational. We know for a fact that what we’re seeing is a naturally and randomly shaped cornflake, but once our brain had convinced us that Elvis has taken on breakfast cereal form, there’s nothing that can convince us to the contrary, not matter how misplaced our assumption may be.
If there’s one place, above any other, where hard facts are in short supply and we’re hugely reliant on our brains filling in the blanks, it’s got to be SL, and in particular, the avatars we share our inworld time with.
Many of the people we’ll come across and spend time with will always remain something of a mystery, and that’s something that we find difficult to process, so to compensate we may find ourselves unconsciously filling the gaps in our knowledge and creating fictitious back stories for the people behind our fellow avatars that are every bit as creative as some of the roleplay scenarios that we see inworld.
The plausibility of our made-up lives taking place outside SL doesn’t come into it: In our minds, we are quite happy to accept the most outlandish and unlikely scenarios, and even when we know these are in stark contrast to the facts, somehow we manage to convince ourselves that our mental picture of the people we know, mostly from their inworld presence, is as real – if not more so – than the truth.
I have inworld friends who will happily insist that I am, in RL, some sort of high-society mover and shaker, that I routinely dress in cocktail dresses and attend ambassadors’ cocktail parties with the great and good. Apparently, I live in a penthouse flat and drink Bollinger for breakfast, with servants attending to my every need. Others inworld will assert that, without a shadow of doubt, I’m a Linden spy infiltrating SL undercover to weed out dissenters and subtly influence those around me in the ways of the Tau of Linden. Still others will say I’m both!
As for how I imagine the lives of those around me might be, I can only say that I’ve filled those gaps in my knowledge with some pretty outlandish possibilities – and even though I know they’re fanciful and unreal, in my mind these are the real lives of the people I know, and it’s hard to convince myself otherwise.
So, the real lives of a selection of my inworld friends unfold something like this…
- The power-obsessed, but still extremely likeable, person whose sole aim in life is to take over the world. On a daily basis, they sit in front of their banks of monitors in their underground lair, somewhere near London, making their plans and plotting their own personal New World Order.
- The dodgy, perma-tanned wide boy: Fat Cuban cigar permanently jammed in the side of his mouth and fedora at a rakish angle, he spends his life touring car boot sales and the back rooms of smoky pubs, sealing deals for dubious boxes that have fallen off the back of lorries. He’s hardwired into eBay and refuses to deal in anything but hard cash of the folding variety, which he keeps in foot-high stacks under the bed.
- The reclusive, exiled rocket scientist, on the run from several governments and international agencies; recipient of numerous Nobel Prizes for physics and chemistry, they lead a secretive lifestyle, leaving no trace but always on call to those who need a bridge blown up in a hurry, or a country invaded.
There are many more. In fact, most people I know from SL have double-double-lives – and I’m sure that if I knew the real stories I’d be terribly disappointed. However, by the law of averages, even some of my most outlandish suppositions must inevitably have a ring of truth about them, and that’s a rather thrilling thought. Who knows, which of the above may ultimately reflect the life of one of my friends in every detail?
And, for all you know, those wild imaginings you have about what my real life is like may, bizarrely, be true!
But I’m always alone.
And my heart is like ice.
And it’s crowded and cold
In My Secret Life
Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life