Obviously I’m not oblivious to the inevitable passage of time and the accompanying signs of aging, but apart from the odd ache, the realisation that I can no longer do all night what I used to do all night (sleep, that is… Without needing to get up for a wee), and the disturbing grunts and other noises I’ve taken to making when I get in and out of a chair, in the main, I manage to stay fairly unaware of the natural processes of entropy.
Then, whilst idly testing through the comments on a ‘true stories that really did happen to me in work’ website, I came across the fatal phrase:
“Whilst I was working in customer service, around the turn of the century…”
That stopped me dead. ‘around the turn of the century’ – now there’s a phrase that I never expected to hear used in my lifetime in that particular context. As a youngster, the 21st century seemed like the dim and distant future, a theoretical point in time that was so distant as to be incomprehensible. Then, as Y2K loomed, it suddenly all became very real, although I have to say that my actual millennium eve, when the calendar finally clicked over from 1999 to 2000 was something of a disappointment, as was the fact that planes steadfastly refused to fall from the sky, traffic lights obstinately continued to work, and all the other promised horrors of the Y2K bug singularly refused to manifest themselves
Until then, the phrase ‘around the turn of the century’ always feel that it referred to ancient history. The realisation that the century turned all over again, during my lifetime, shook me up a bit.
I imagine that it’s the same for those who experienced the swinging sixties at first hand, rather than through the recollections of their parents, when they hear a Beatles’ song and remember buying the single when it was first released.
I am indeed getting old… I remember evenings spent taping songs off the radio and hoping the DJ wouldn’t speak through the intro; I remember panicking about the immanent demise of cassette tapes; I remember when Doctor Who was still a bloke, and moreover, he was Jon Pertwee; I remember having a black & white TV, and when remote controls didn’t exist; I remember being so excited at upgrading my 14k modem to a 28k and the sweet music of its digital handshake; I remember Netscape Navigator.
I remember experiencing SL on a 386sx PC that could barely display Internet images, let alone run a virtual world.
That’s quite disturbing too… Ten years is a very long time to have a life in a virtual world, especially considering that for much of that time I’ve logged in almost every day, and usually for hours at a time. That’s a lot of virtual hours logged during which surprisingly little has really changed inworld, despite the many momentous real world ‘upgrades’ and changes that have taken place during the same timeframe.
People, relationships and places, of course, have come and gone and sometimes changed beyond recognition, and technological advances mean that some things are a little slicker, a little more polished and the overall virtual experience is somewhat improved, but I don’t think there’s anything really comparable to many of the massive changes that have taken place in reality. Whilst I accept that there are those who may log in after a number of years’ absence and struggle to get to grips with this new-fangled mesh clothing, it’s nowhere near as radical a change as a time traveller might face in trying to buy something at a typical electrical goods store to to play their old VHS tapes on!
Much of what made SL unique, interesting and fun back when I joined up hasn’t really changed at all: It’s still a mad, quirky, bizarre and confusing place; negotiating doorways and spiral stairs is still a challenge even with ten years’ practice under my belt; goods still cost pretty much the same as they did in the past, and people still spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about the same old things they’ve always complained about.
Very little has changed at all, and for a geriatric avatar like me that’s great news… Because so little change makes me think that maybe I haven’t been around for quite as long as it feels.
However, the there’s something else about SL that makes me feel slightly less old: Second Life didn’t even exist at the turn of the century, and I arrived much later than even that… On that basis, I’m practically a complete noob! (Which would also explain why I’ve still to master walking through doors and climbing stairs!)
Yep, gotta say, even after all these years, I’m still down wiv the kidz! Innit though bruv! Safe.
People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
The Who – My Generation