I’ve occasionally had cause to wonder whether having spent time around and in SL can encourage your to be more tolerant and accepting in the real world? If I’m honest, I think it’s probably unlikely that it does, and that the way in which you relate to the world and people around you is based far more upon your temperament and attitudes than any amount of learned behaviour acquired inworld could be attributed to.
Being exposed to a miscellany of cultures, beliefs and diverse experiences in the virtual world – despite what we might logically surmise – does not necessarily teach us to have a broader real world view, in the same way that learning to deal with the frustrations and irritations present in SL does not necessarily mean we become more patient and laid back in real life. Maybe it does help a bit though, at least in terms of giving us relatable experiences and the occasional pointer in the right direction, and I sometimes think that what SL does do quite successfully is inoculate is against some of the more ‘off the wall’ moments that we come across in RL.
Earlier this week, I was sat on the train, pulling out of Leominster station on a rainy afternoon. As I gazed through the window, my attention was drawn to a gentleman, stood on the platform, dressed in shorts, t-shirt, pork pie hat and – rather incongruously – a bright and colourful lei. Now, this being Leominster railway station on a wet July afternoon, I was hard pushed to come up with a rational explanation for such attire, neither could I satisfy my curiosity by contriving a satisfactory connection between Hawaii and Leominster, or for that matter pork pie hats. So I did what I so often find myself doing inworld when faced with the odd, peculiar, and downright out of place: I metaphorically shrugged, put it to the back of my mind, and moved on.
It was the realisation of what I’d just done that made me stop and think. Seren ‘enquiring minds need to know’ Haven seems to be becoming somewhat immune to the peculiarities of life and the world around us. This is worrying, especially since – now I come to think about it – it might well be the case in the virtual world too. It seems I’m losing that sense of bafflement and bemusement when I see the weird and inexplicable around me, and rather than questioning, wondering, investigating and pondering what it’s all about, I’m starting to just accept things without further enquiry, mentally shrugging them off, and moving on, none the wiser and remaining completely uninformed.
Yet I’m the one who always needs to know more; I’m the one with the mind of an eternal three year old, always wanting to know why; I’m the one who takes things apart, just so I can see how they work; I’m the one who loves to learn, discover and explore: But I appear to be losing that enquiring disposition… Which I find a little worrying.
It feels to me a bit like a bird, waddling around, that’s somehow forgotten that it is capable of flight – the wings and the fathers are perfectly functional, the capability is there, but for some reason it’s become easier to walk than to make the effort of flapping. And, even though there are plenty of flightless birds that do just as well as their aeronautical cousins, it seems to me that they lack the defining factor of what it means to be a bird. It’s like a photographer that never takes pictures, an artist who never puts brush to canvas, or a musician who never picks up their instrument – everything is there, except the will to do it.
Am I becoming disenamoured with SL, or more worryingly, unconcerned with anything that I see around me; failing to question, investigate or even wonder about the world passing by, even when presented with the unusual or bizarre? Have I become so jaded that life in all its variety no longer manages to raise even an enquiring eyebrow? Pepy’s famously observed that when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life… But, what if you skip the ‘London’ qualification altogether and are still tired of life?
There was a time when I’d suggest that’s exactly the point that SL comes into its own, but when even that crazy, mad, bonkers alternative reality doesn’t grab your attention, then I’m at a bit of a loss to know what will.
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody