That’s a tricky one to answer – ideally, Linden Lab would like it to be people from all walks of life and a wide range of ages, but preferably those with a reasonable disposable income and spare time on their hands.
To a certain extent, it’s probably true to say that there is in fact a pretty diverse spread amongst the SL user base and that to try and describe the ‘average’ user behind the avatar is a pretty pointless exercise. With such a wide range of inworld activities, interest groups and sims that focus on niche activities, the likelihood is that there’s no such thing as the average SL user.
Even so, my own experience is that the sort of people that SL draws, and who then subsequently stay long term, do indeed exhibit a degree of commonality. Perhaps this is simply because the circles I move in attract similar people, but I have a suspicion that the same traits may well hold true generally throughout SL… Maybe you know differently?
If someone was to ask me the same question I posed at the beginning of this post, I’d say that the average long term user fails within the 30 to 50 age group, is employed, most likely in a skilled profession, will regularly play in other gaming environments and routinely participates on one or more other social media platforms. They are likely to be highly intelligent and have a wide ranging, and seemingly infinite knowledge across an eclectic range of subject matter. They might well be considered almost obsessive about the things they have a passion for.
That’s rather a sweeping generalisation, I know and it might in fact be wildly misrepresentative, but in my own personal experience, it’s not that far off… And yes, I can indeed tick most of those boxes myself, with one or two notable exceptions. Those personal exceptions are perhaps surprising, considering my leaning towards technology, the wider social constructs within which I operate and, indeed, the very nature of this blog. However, in short, gaming and social media are completely anathema as far as I’m concerned.
You may think it weird, considering my interest in so many aspects of SL, technology and the Internet, that I’m not equally immersed in one or more of the multitude of games that so many of my inworld companions find so enthralling. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure myself why this should be, although it’s safe to say that time is one of my most precious commodities, and I have so little of it to spare that – outside of SL – I can usually find plenty to fill that time with, without the need to turn to other means of entertainment, such as Grand Theft War Gears, or such like. Then there’s the nature of games themselves – they simply don’t appeal to me. SL is different: unlike a game, there are no fixed objectives or set game plans – I can choose to do what I want, when I want and in the way I want. No-one is going to shoot me if I make a mistake, and I can pretty much go about my SLife exactly as I wish. As for those games with their guilds and quests and armies… Not my cup of tea at all! I like to do things on my own, I don’t want to have to be part of a team or cooperate with others on their terms, timescales and rules; it’s just not my style. More fundamentally – not matter what the genre of any particular game – after only a very short time, most games simply bore me – I’m very hard to please!
As for social media… I hate it with a passion! It’s partly because I’m horribly antisocial, partly because I value my privacy over most other considerations, and partly because most social media platforms make absolutely no sense to me. In respect to preserving my privacy, I’m pretty reclusive in my real life and I’m incredibly careful about what personal information I put in the public domain – I am, as a real person, a rare commodity in this information age: A ghost in the machine, pretty much invisible to the .net. Add to this an horrific experience in the past where an acquaintance from social media became a stalker in a very real sense, to the point they found out where I worked and even got themselves a job as a temp in the same office and you can probably appreciate my reticence to get on board with Facebook and the like.
Also – weirdly, considering that I’m fairly bright – I just don’t understand the mechanics of most social media. I really don’t know how Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, SoundCloud, Weibo, Pinterest and their like work – yes, I understand the principle that you post and share on them, but the whole paraphernalia that surrounds that simple concept: Who gets to see what, the web of interconnected networking, re-whatevering stuff – none of it makes any sense to me, neither have I a clue how any of it is supposed to work… And I wonder just how many others are the same as me, yet do it anyway. Surely that can be a dangerous thing in the wrong circumstances?
In any event, I’ve no interest in the minutiae of the everyday lives of those people I know, and I doubt that my life is any more thrilling to them. I really don’t want to see blurry photos of your last night on the town, be invited to share pointless memes with other contacts who’ve already themselves shared them a thousand times before, or ‘like’ your general announcement to the world in general that you had a lie-in this morning. And if you think that I do, then you really don’t know me as well as you think.
So, no I don’t really fit my own SL typical demographic, at least not in every respect, but I suppose, even in a virtual world, someone has to be a square peg in a round hole.
Someone like you, and all you know, and how you speak
Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody