I am a creature of habit, and I suspect that many others who frequent SL are cut from the same cloth. I tend to log in at around the same time, on the same days and hang around with the same people in the same places, with very little in the way of variation or change. I know that many of my friends do much the same thing – partly because they spend a lot of time in my presence, at the same times and places that I’m around, and partly because if they’re not around, I can usually predict with a fair degree of accuracy where they might be found.
Occasionally, the real world will intervene and mess us around, upsetting itineraries and changing our plans. This is usually unavoidable and those of us who may be tempted to put the virtual world first and jeopardise real life commitments should probably take a step back and get a stronger grip on reality!
Virtual life may throw the odd spanner in the works too. New friendships can sometimes fool around with our nicely ordered and structured inworld routines – and whilst we may not actually resent spending time with new people, visiting new locations with them and doing things when we’d previously have been doing something completely different, they can put a strain on our sense of order and control. We feel conflicted between nurturing and enjoying the company of our new acquaintance and maintaining our own familiar routines. Similarly, when SL imposes upon us and our time – even if for good reason – we can find ourselves irritated by that imposition, no matter how positive the reasons behind it. For example, landscaping a new parcel, creating a build or preparing for an event or fair can take their toll on our normal activities and pursuits, and although we may enjoy what we’re doing instead, it’s always with the frustrating knowledge that our usual routine has temporarily been put on hold.
I’ve always been a little jealous of those who seem to be able to flit around SL (and presumably, RL too), without any thought for routine, going wherever the whim takes them, unconcerned about places to be or things to be done. They remind me of my early days inworld before I’d established any real sort of routine, had few friends, no land or places I had to be and not even a place to call home where I could get changed. Certainly, that kind of SLifestyle had its disadvantages but, on the plus side, it was a free and easy time when I undertook a huge amount of exploring, discovery and investigation of the virtual world, its opportunities and possibilities – things that, although I still do them today, it’s nowhere near as much or as frequently, and more often than not, they are activities constrained by the demands of the routines that I’ve established since.
It’s a bit of a mixed blessing, growing into the virtual world – the longer you’re here and the more you socialise and integrate with the virtual community, the less freedom it seems you have to do all those other things that you’d like to do, but can’t, because you have things to do… If you see what I mean!
I know people inworld who have far more friends than I, who seem to have a full and varied social life, and yet if you dig a little deeper, their entire time inworld is completely dictated by the associations they have formed and the activities to which they subscribe. There’s no freedom to vary the routine and no leeway when it comes to fitting in anything outside that routine. They might appear to have everything going for them, but in reality, it’s just the same old routine, week after week. Of course, that’s fine if you’re happy with it, but it does seem to me to go against part of the ethos of SL, where we have the freedom to be who we want to be, do what we want to do, and create a life that we want… And, if we’re not careful, it seems that over time we can restrict our own freedom and end up in the very same type of routines that we try to escape in RL by heading off to the virtual world.
A cautionary tale, maybe: One that maybe I should take more heed of myself!
It’s the same old song
But with a different meaning
Since you been gone
But it’s the same old song
The Four Tops – It’s The Same Old Song