Cotton wool

I was in London the other day, and I got run over!

Y’know, got can take all the precautions in the world to protect yourself from harm, but at the end of the day, you can’t cater for other people’s idiocy.

As always, when traveling anywhere likely to be crowded or prone to other hazards, I’d taken all the usual sensible precautions: valuables stashed away, belongings never out of my sight, brisk purposeful walking, and – in view of the current climate – highly aware of my surroundings and vehicles, especially when crossing over Southwark Bridge! In fact, right up to the last moment, I was taking reasonable care, even waiting for the green man to appear before crossing the road.

Then, bang! Barrelling around the corner, and straight through the red light, an idiot cyclist took me out.

It was OK for him, with his helmet, elbow and knee protectors, and big lump of metal and rubber between him and me; but this was the day that I’d foolishly neglected to wear my anti-cyclist armour, and inevitably, I came off the worst. Don’t work though… I’m fine, just bruised, winded and just a teeny weeny bit furious!

To be fair, he was incredibly apologetic and did check that I was OK, particularly after he checked and saw that the light was indeed against him – shame he hadn’t thought to do that before assaulting me with his two-wheeled weapon.

When I run into misadventure of that sort, it always comes as a little bit of a surprise to find that I am indeed only human, and that these things – few and far between though they may be – always turn out to be more painful, traumatic and ‘real’ than I’d expect. In part, I blame SL: I’ve grown so used to a world in which being run over, shot, eaten by zombies, blown up and falling from the sky onto solid ground has no consequences, is completely painless and is trauma free, that when something does occur in the real world, it’s a bit of a shock to find that accidents and upsets are actually painful and can have lasting consequences.

I suppose it’s another example of that weird transposition of virtual over reality. The oft-experienced ‘wardrobe effect’, where we spend ages looking through our cupboards for a dress, only to realise it’s one we own in SL; or the weird experience of wondering how many prims that flatpack Ikea coffee table is, instead of questioning whether it’ll fit in our living room!

Whilst I don’t think it’s something to be unduly concerned about, I do wonder if I’ll ever get to the stage where my brain has become so addled and attuned to SL that I become a menace to myself. I can almost see myself, in a moment of absent-mindedness, accidentally jumping out of a second floor window under the mistaken conviction I can fly, or stepping off the pavement into a busy stream of traffic thinking that the cars will simply bounce off me with no harm done! It may seem a laughable and unlikely situation, but I I’m guessing that we’ve all done daft things in real life as a result of our brains being firmly in SL mode, and the potential to do something really stupid someday is definitely there.

Maybe I should accept the inevitable and start taking precautions now? Perhaps invest in an industrial sized bale of cotton wool, or a skip full of those polystyrene packaging nuggets, and not leave the house without wrapping myself in their protective embrace? And perhaps I could wear a hard hat at all times, preferably with a dangly sign hanging from it, constantly in view, to remind me: “Remember – you can’t fly in real life!”

Then again, that would be just a little bit silly when all that’s really required is for me to reassert the boundaries between the real and virtual – you know, in much the same fashion as all those profiles that say ‘I keep my RL separate from SL’. That way, I can enjoy the best of both worlds, and as long as I keep in mind exactly where I am at any given time, I should have no problems at all. Of course, it does mean that I have to accept that if I come a cropper in the real world, it is going to hurt, but that’s the essence of knowing you’re alive… Which surely begs another question: If I get run over by a bicycle in SL and it doesn’t hurt, then what exactly does that say about my virtual self?

s. x

I hurt myself today 
To see if I still feel 
I focus on the pain 
The only thing that’s real 
Nine Inch Nails – Hurt

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