People have many and varied reasons for choosing to log in to SL. In my case, it’s to spend time with friends, unwind from the day, and escape the hassles and nonsense of the real world. Others may log in for specific events or activities, or to get creative in a way that they can’t be elsewhere, or – so I’m told – some may actually escape to SL to do teh sex!
Whatever your own personal reasons are, I’d be very surprised if you chose to log in to SL to treat it simply as a continuation of the real world, only with pixels, instead of the real thing. Yet, every now and again I run into people inworld who seem to relish doing just that.
I treat SL as being exactly what it says on the tin – a second life: Distinct and separate from the one I happen to be blessed with outside the confines of virtuality. So when I log in, I’m looking forward to chilling and relaxing, whilst not having to worry about doing the ironing, paying the gas bill, dealing with annoying emails from the boss, or any of the other million-and-one things that the real world requires me to put up with because they are in some way important to my continued existence, comfort or employment. I can forget about all those things once I’ve clicked that magical login button because absolutely none of them are necessary in my virtual world: My Second Life.
This means I’m free to muck about, shop, play, party, shoot zombies, drive like a maniac and whatever the hell else I want to do, without worrying about the price of petrol, how am I going to dispose of the bodies, have I got enough milk to last me the rest of the week, and is that worrying rash I’ve developed just a mild bit of irritated skin, or something more sinister? It’s a reality free of worries, concerns or (let’s be honest here), actual reality – and that’s what I love about it. That’s not to say that it SL doesn’t itself generate a whole raft of its own drama and problems, but that’s a whole other ballgame, and I guess that no world, real or otherwise, is wholly perfect.
Nevertheless, no matter how much I try to leave reality behind me when I’m inworld, I find that there are many who seem to hold a completely different perspective and not only feel the need to drag real life with them into SL, but having done so, feel no compunction when it comes to inflicting it upon those who would rather avoid it. Seriously folks, when I’ve logged in to SL, I really don’t want my fun interrupted by somebody moaning about their ingrowing toenails, or how Aunt Edna has started to smell even more of wee since you moved her to the nursing home. I don’t want to know how bored you are with lockdown, and I definitely have no interest whatsoever in your views on anything even remotely political in the real world, thank you very much.
Those are exactly the things that I wish to leave festering in real life, which inevitably I will have to return to at some point, but in the meantime I’d very much like to keep it off the radar and out of my presence.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve no problem having a heart-to-heart with a friend in IM about something that’s causing them concern or a headache in RL – that’s what friends, even virtual ones, are for – but what does bug me more than I can possibly say is when people insist on bringing the real world into a group gathering and then derailing the entire conversation to the point of saturation. And the worst of it is that, in a group, it’s horribly infectious… Once one person decides to share with the party the intricate details of their chronic haemorrhoids, everybody present seems to feel the need to weigh-in with their own symptoms, treatments and family history of anal-related complaints.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made my excuses and left, logged-out prematurely or simply retreated into a miserable shell, when an evening of entertainment and irreverent banter has been hijacked and I’ve found myself subjected to an hour or more of heated political debate, in-depth discussion about somebody’s halitosis or endless arguments about things that aren’t fun, aren’t conducive to friendly chat and make me feel that logging-out and doing the washing-up are viable and enjoyable alternatives to spending time inworld with friends.
By all means, feel free to discuss Latvian politics, the failings of the monarchy, and how depressed you are about not being able to get a decent haircut over the past year, when you’re having a private chat with friends – as long as they don’t mind – but please don’t bring it into a communal setting where others might just be looking for some downtime, away from the rigors of real life for a couple of hours, where the only thing they have to worry about is if their alphas are showing. If you really want to log into SL and get into a political debate, discuss your chillblains, or argue the relative merits or otherwise of large-scale deforestation in favour of industrial beef and palm oil production, then by all means find a group of like-minded people inworld and spend time getting it off your chest with them; you can even set up your own group and have dedicated events around your preferred topics of discussion, but don’t just dump it on a bunch of unsuspecting victims who might simply want to spend an short while away from that reality and have a good time. It’s not fair, it’ll make you unpopular and no matter how well you make your point, it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference to party politics, or the state of your rear sphincter!
If I wanted more of the real world… I’d stay there!
Please just shut up
I am going to slap you
Backhand and handicap you
Kat McSnatch – If You Don’t Shut Up