It’s no secret that I’ve been dissatisfied with my second life lately. So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’ve been thinking about the things I like and dislike about Second Life, and I’ve been thinking about the way my interest ebbs and flows on a regular basis. This journal has been helpful in showing me a pattern in my mood, and I’m getting closer to finding a balance between my two worlds.
I haven’t been in-world much in the past three months. However, when I have been online I’ve had conversations with friends about my dilemma, and I’ve learned some interesting things especially from readers of this blog. One thing I’ve learned is that I’m not alone in the struggle to cope with the concoction of emotions that get brewed up in this artificial world.
Second Life has the appearance of real life, but it is not real life. I suspect that most people who’ve been in-world for a year or more have figured out that there is an insidious “time dilation”. It’s pretty simple really:
Ok, ok. I put this formula (Einstein’s theory of time dilation) in here to make you think I’m smart, but that’s not really the case… being smart I mean. Well, I used to be pretty smart, but lately I don’t know. hehe
This is me me and LeLe contemplating Einstein’s Gravitational Time Dilation. I think it’s really pretty silly, and when I hear “dilation” I think of pregnancy and stuff.
No, I’m not talking about the Time Dilation described in Einstein’s special theory of relativity. I’m talking about SL time dilation, sort of the strange effect where events that happen in-world seem to cause other events to expand faster than they would in real life. People say things like “one day in SL is like a week in RL”. I’ve heard a lot of ideas about about why this happens, but this blog post is about the problems it causes, not why it happens.
I think there’s one other type of dilation, emotional dilation. That’s mean, the emotions you experience in SL seem to expand more strongly than in real life. Many people I’ve chatted with have mentioned this kind of thing to me, especially when a romance ends. I mean, there seems to be so much more unhappiness in SL breakups than in RL breakups. I’ve heard many stories of people who leave SL forever after a romance that goes bad.
The point I’m trying to make here is that SL is not real life and I’ve come to believe that for some people (me, for example) there is a need for guidelines to keep SL’s special strangeness from messing with our minds. I’m still struggling with the whole thing and I haven’t figured out all the guidelines, but I believe that creating some guidelines to help keep me on track I can avoid many of these periods of confusion in the future. So the first thing I need to do is define the role my second life will play in my life.
Simply put, I need to reinvent myself.
In many cases, my friends and the groups I belong to are closely aligned with who I am and what I want to be, but there are other people and groups that have nothing to do with my future. Everything is on the table so to speak, even my beloved Zen garden. I believe I’m close to finding a role for my SL self that will be my foundation; afterall, in real life our role is a part of our identity.
The way to do is to be.
The way to be is to do.
-Cadet Handbook, U.S. Military Academy