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Quaintly wrote a post about her awakening from SL and, since we have always argued about the “reality” of SL, it got me started into a long comment (for example, that spending countless hours with your virtual wardrobe may look shallow, but in fact shows respect for your enviroment and people’s immersion… and, err, well, it is pretty fun), which ended  with me “londoning” it.

The main point was my answer to this lines of hers: “What SL is, is an illusion. It seems real, but it isn’t. And before anyone tries to argue the point, of course the people in it, and the friendships we build, are real. Just as real as the friendships you have with the co-workers in your office. But when you switch jobs, move to a different company, how many of those friendships remain? Only a few. The same thing with SL”.

I simply can’t get it; if SL is less real because you can leave it, doesn’t make a job illusory too?

Aha! Got you with your own words! *grins at Quaintly*.

After all, if we check how we where before SL, and how we are now, and it has changed us, doesn’t make it real?

Errr…

No?

I’ve been changed by books and films, by wonderful, fictional stories that made me look at life in new, open ways, but that doesn’t make them real.

In fact, it would be a bit silly to argue about a film being or not being real and, in the same way, it is a bit silly to discuss if virtual worlds are real; they are and aren’t, in the same way other activities are and aren’t: entertainment, work, pornography or spiritual shelters.

I’m afraid that, deep inside, the problem is always the same: is the people behind the screen real? Can I accept a virtual personality as such, or do I need an RL link? Are we being deceived?

Yes, relations may be catastrophic when one end don’t meet the expectations… and yes, we can talk about ye olde trucker joke *rolls eyes*, but mainly about people who fakes care, compromise, disappearing in the shadows of anonymity when they get what they want; I think this is why many people thinks this place isn’t “real”.

But I disagree; yes, there is many many people around who aren’t what they seem, people whose shyness, physical traits or society enviroment didn’t let them be what they wanted, until they found this strange, virtual canvas; but that doesn’t mean they are fakers. And yes, I’ve met some bad apples in my SL years, and I’ve been deceived by them… but that also happens at RL: the only difference is, it is harder to spot them here.

Of course I’m partial, being one of those aumengtationists myself; London’s RL counterpart isn’t so pretty, flirty, daring, crazy and… well, it may come as a shock, but I don’t have kitten ears at RL *pouts*.

By staying away from SL we can free an incredible amount of time, discover little RL joys we had forgotten, and get rid of heartaches and emotional debris; thus, I fully understand when a friend decides it is time to leave, and I am glad if we keep contact through mail, even if it means sharing our (booooooring ;-) RL everyday.

But I stay at SL, maybe because, having committed virtual adultery, I can’t bring myself to port SL lovers into full disclosure RL friends, or maybe because I don’t want to lose that special, crazy piece of me, that only lives here.

I stay, and keep believing. Does that makes me a dreamer, and SL an illusion? Does it matter?

As Calderon de la Barca wrote:

What is this life? A frenzy, an illusion,
A shadow, a delirium, a fiction.
The greatest good’s but little, and this life
is but a dream, and dreams are only dreams.

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(If you forgot: since I am RL busy, I am trying to enjoy my SL by “dedicating” Fridays to it, starting by last one).

Last Friday I seriously logged in at SL, with mixed results:

– I was able to talk with people I missed, like dear Quaintly, dear Peter, and some other dears… but I wasn’t able to meet some of them “in person”, which is sad, and some weren’t around at all, like Natsumi or Katrina (my fault, Friday isn’t a day that fits them).

Bittersweet.

– Anyway, there was a moment when nobody was around, so I had some free time… which I spent dressing, when I should had been doing shop updates.

Silly in a fun way.

– Then my daughter got me by the throat, and forced me to build her a canopy bed, only I cheated and used a tent Quaintly had made before, and I simply tweaked it a bit and tinted it in deep pink.

Sillier, and funnier.

– Later, Peter took me to a haunted mine at Steeltopia Station, that he had explored, and we, well, explored it, which was fun.

Must I say it? Another bit of silliness ;-p

So, how was it?

I wrote: “SL bores me to death when I don’t have enough time to spend at it with my friends” and, at her latest post, Zippora answers to it with “A good old friend stays very dear to me, even if I haven’t seen them for months”, which is true (at least emotionally true, if not gramatically… but who am I to criticise that?

(lol, see what I meant? I just run the spell check and discovered “grammatically” is written with two ems :-p).

We, my RL friends and I, have a dinner every two months. We talk about our families, TV series (“How I met your mother” being the current favorite, winning over “House M.D.” for a whole head) and mostly laugh a lot, making all the guys around feel pretty insecure. In all logic SL friendships should work the same way, accepting long periods of absence, or even that you may want to log in to do something, instead of meeting people. And it does, it truly does…

… up to a point.

For example, Faerie and Dunan are very tolerant friends, that assume we almost never meet in person; worse, they know how much do I stink at multitasking, so most times we don’t even IM each other.

(oh my God! I forgot to water the bonsai they gave me! that is soo typical :-( At least this one will only need a reset to revive).

But many of my SL friends aren’t only that, and I know at least one had been angry at my long absence (being told four times in a day helped to notice it :-p). Imagine meeting a RL boyfriend, or girlfriend, once each two months…it may work if you are in a long distance relation, but you would feel guilty if you didn’t call after a while. And going to the city but not paying a visit, because you where busy?

Urgh.

But things aren’t so easy. Which is an “urgh” at RL is a very different matter at SL, where many members of our friend list may be more than friends but less than boyfriends, a pretty volatile state. Also, for some of us SL is a sad place if we can’t spend a lot of time building, creating, or simply mixing and matching the clothes of our (typically mastodontic) wardrobe.

Having a rich emotional life at SL (aka, having more than a handful of boyfriends and girlfriends at the same time), I’ve always being torn between the need to behave in the right way, RL style, and the feeling there is never enough time for anything. It isn’t strange I’ve been crazy half of the time; now I only need to find an excuse for the other half.

But noticing this is a big step, isn’t it? What comes next?

*Sighs* No idea.

Logic tells me that, if I really need to spend most of my time building (or scripting, or shopping, or dressing), I should do it. Logic tells me that, if I can’t dedicate my time to a single boyfriend, I’ll have to learn to give them only little crumbs of my time. And I know some people at SL who has managed to do just that, and they are happy.

Me?It is worth a try, but I doubt I’ll be able to do it. I am pretty sure it will feel wrong, but at least I know why, now.

Meanwhile there was that last Friday, that ended at late night, playing dice with two old friends at Steeltopia’s Black Fox tavern.

Fun in a very, very sweet way.

a whole week has passed, and I felt the tug to log in again, to post about this, but I am very very very very very very bu…

wait …

… sy studying lately, as I will be in the next months, so I resisted the temptation and waited,waited, until it was Friday again :-)

Btw, studying isn’t as boring as people says: now I know how a vitroceramic plate (infrared or inductive) works; that, since 2006, we only have eight true planets (poor Pluto is now a dwarf planet), that magnetic fields are made now of Photons. Well, by “now” I mean the latest theories about it, of course, not that somebody changed a switch on the Universe… even if that would be fun, isn’t it?

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The cookie thing

A busy Christmas kept me away from SL, but now I am even busier, studying around ten hours a day for a competitive exam that will take place in the Summer. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I am doing it in my own unique style, that includes seeing Brad Pitt’s “Snatch” (drools) while writing up schematics.

The thing is, I am busy, but not busy enough to keep me so far away from SL as I’ve been, and yesterday I decided it was time to write a post in the hope I would discover why. Yes, blogging as the cheapest form of psychoanalysis :-p.

It started easy, with some redundant topics of mine: my inability to deal with a friend list (sigh, I’m more and more sure my Dunbar’s number at SL goes around 10), that I need some hours in a row with somebody to feel really connected, and how easily I feel detached when interrupted by an IM (multitasking), when chat lags (multitasked), when RL intrudes, when there are technical issues… you know, everything :-p.

The problem is nothing of this was new, and it didn’t fully explain why, when I get a pair of free hours, I tend to read or see TV instead of logging in.

So I started digging into relations, and after a whole day I noticed they where the same old clichés: I don’t desire enough and/or I am not being desired enough. I can’t give what he/she needs, and/or he/she can’t give me what I need, and so on.

No relation is perfect, and it is true I’ve been feeling lots of negative emotions, from boredom to jealousy,which I hate and makes me hate myself. But it is also true that my heart flutters when I meet a loved one, that I laugh and enjoy the company of my friends. So no luck here, try the other one.

So, after spending a whole morning writing a post, I deleted it! And it didn’t went better in the afternoon, believe me :-(

But after a bit of sleep I think I’ve reached a conclusion: SL bores me to no end… unless I have lots of time to spend with my friends, work in my shop or write endless posts. I need time enough to connect, and I doubt I’ll have that kind of time until September, and that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Or not?

After all, adding chocolate chunks to cookies seemed impossible at first, isn’t it?

I am going to try to dedicate all my free time from a whole day to SL, probably the monday; and if that doesn’t work, I’ll keep trying, and trying. Because that’s the way the cookie crumbles ;-)

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Quiet days

At Spain children have huge Christmas holidays, which span from 22 of December to January the 7th. Considering both dates fell very close to a weekend, that means three long weeks where most of we do is care of our little girl, crazed by a mix of tidbits and boredom.

I’ve spent a month without logging in; first I was busy, then it was busier with Christmas, but being busy doesn’t fully explain why.

Three years ago I was mildly happy with my nice marriage, and then SL came and teached me how to be passionate again. This lesson of love had their ups and downs, but it was worth it, and I hope I’ll never forget it again.

Ironically SL success on awakening my RL feelings has made things complicated, because a day isn’t big enough to fit two full lives, and that is why it has been so relaxing to keep away this month: simply being who I used to be before SL was busy enough.

Lost in the haze of only being my RL self, I kept postponing to log in, to answer mails, to keep in contact. That doesn’t mean I didn’t miss my SL family, or blogging, or commenting. I did, but it was so hard to find time and strength to come back, that I kept delaying it.

Before this long absence my SL had evolved into a slow, easygoing life, and now I see that was just what I needed: three years ago I found a passionate SL for my quiet RL, and now I need a quiet SL for my busy, passionate life.

Once my daughter returns to school I’ll be back to SL, to keep looking for that elusive balance between two sweet lives.

Meanwhile? It’s late, bed is calling, have a happy new year :-)

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(fashion plug: the outfit is Strap from M&A and, as everything in the shop, it was only 10L$. Well, all but the top hat, that I got long ago at Nymphetamine. Now keep reading if you want, but be advised: the rest of the post hasn’t anything to do with fashion :-p)

While I was trying to decide how to write this post about RL identity disclosure, I found Quaintly had gone and wrote her own about Surrogates and virtual isolation, and saw both matters where deeply related.

Let’s think about it. Would things be too different if  your body stayed at home, while a replica which looks like you and is connected to your nervous terminations roams around?

Since people wouldn’t worry too much about physical damage, some things would definitely change, but I don’t think it would mean isolation, don’t you think? In fact, there would be even more contact, since the main risk of meeting the wrong stranger would be the workshop’s bill.

What if our replica hadn’t to look like us? We can foresee health problems after peer pressure disappears, and there may also be a feeling of not facing the “real” one, where physical alienation could affect the depth of relations, isolating people.  But, in a world where everybody is mutable, I don’t think people would feel themselves deceived if the perfect bodies they are facing don’t match the real ones, at least if they kept their original genders; after all, marriage would probably involve replica sex and in-vitro fecundation, chill but viable.

Let’s say SL is something like that, a place where interactivity is enhanced because we don’t fear consequences, even if there is a bit of worrying about RL gender, and where a forty-some year old housewife can look as hot as she wants.

RL identity

The big problem is SL users aren’t living in a surrogate world, but between two worlds. If you want to love somebody, and would like to transfer that love to real life, matters like gender, marital status and world location are crucial. And even if you are only enhancing your life with virtual friendships, it isn’t easy to accept that the avatar you are talking with may decide to stop logging someday, disappearing without a trace.

It isn’t only virtualization that isolates us, but anonymity, because our virtual self doesn’t answer for our real one.

For a long, long time, I’ve struggled with the idea of fully revealing my identity to my SL close ones; I slip a lot already, talking about everyday matters and sending holiday pictures, but never daring to share my full RL name and address. And I’ve always felt that, if you are truly involved with somebody, it isn’t right to keep that kind of secrets from them. It is like saying there is no real trust.

The fun thing is I don’t feel the same way about other people’s RL details; while I am naturally curious I respect their privacy, as do my friends with mine.

It is a need to give what drives us, not to take. We don’t fear not knowing, but we don’t want to hide.

And even if I had done many naughty things at SL, peccadilloes I don’t want my husband to know, I still don’t want to hide.

Just now the problem became more urgent: somebody I love offered me a RL gift and, while  I could accept it at a PO box, it feels soooooo ugly to do so. Because the only excuse we have to avoid giving our RL address is:  you can’t trust somebody you meet at Internet.

When I told my husband about it (disguising the gift as a reward after giving a helping hand, and due to my natural niceness and how often I give a helping hand), he was also curious about seeing it, but didn’t want to give our address; as I said, the point is we can meet people at the Internet, but we should risk bringing them home.

After all there are many, many things I wouldn’t had done at SL if I hadn’t been an anonymous woman. I don’t want to risk public exposure!

But if we can’t trust, we are truly isolated.

It is pretty easy for a RL being not to match the SL one; maybe they aren’t so cute, maybe their political and religious beliefs aren’t what they say, and maybe they aren’t even the right gender; I could be the trucker of the story, enjoying the tenderness and “freedom” of being female… even if it isn’t as if I act in a feminine way, dammit! *winks*.

But the truth is we know people at Internet. We talk with them, read what they write (if they are bloggers; if you aren’t, start one!), see the way they interact with others. That isn’t something easy to fake, and as the friendship builds, you end knowing people pretty well, and even if there is always the risk of a nasty surprise, it is the same at RL, where we build facades, adapting to the people we are talking with in a given moment.

At the end everything is a matter of trust. We need to give our trust to our friends and our loved ones if we don’t want to be isolated. But we also must deserve their trust, deciding how far we should go; and while it isn’t easy to reach such delicate balance between our RL and SL responsibilities, it is worth trying, because our RL can be deeply enriched by a trusting SL life.

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Peter’s rezday

Mr. Peter Stindberg is three years old; SL old, of course!

Rezday

So many years, and not a wrinkle, can you believe it?

I would like to say more, but I have sent him my nice words through e-mail, and now it feels a bit redundant to do it here. So, happy third rezday, dear Peter. I hope you a great day…

… and the rest of you, keep an eye at his Plurk; a little bird told me it will be an interesting one to behold :-)

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I just read a post about how alien does Quaintly feel at SL’s “American or northern hemisphere-ish kind of slant”, and I could only comment how interesting was to know somebody who still see a difference between both.

While I was being cynical, since North America’s huge economical machine has bulldozed its culture all over the world,  I don’t consider it as flatly negative. Thanks to media industry we have a kind of world-wide language, English; traveling is easier, because occidental behaviour is understood almost everywhere (beware, understood doesn’t mean enjoyed :-p) and, at the same time, our northern thick heads are slowly learning to behave in ways that doesn’t make us be despised when visiting remote places… like Alabama.

The day of the dead isn’t a review about a zombie film, but a day around the start of November when many cultures pay they respect to their deceased, and I could mourn about how Halloween has invaded it, how empty and commercial it is now, how sad it is that a pumpkin has invaded our heads, or souls, making us forget our traditions.

Day of the dead

(pumpking, candy necklace and black outfit are freebies from Drac)

At Spain, Halloween isn’t too popular; in the Day of Deceased roads clog while we massively travel to graveyards, to remember our dead ones, to pray for them, to clean the tombstones, to put fresh flowers…

… and we do it quickly, before people notices how we neglected the tombs for a whole year. And of course, we also hurry because that is a holiday, after all, and we want to enjoy the rest of the day.

Toys’R’us gives a little Halloween party, of course to push sales, but my daughter enjoys it a lot, and so we will go. She loves Halloween TV specials, loves the special day where there is a creepy touch in everything. Maybe we will buy a pumpkin, carve it, and light a lamp inside.

That doesn’t mean we will forget to visit our dead ones; she will go to the graveyard with us, and soon she will learn how much cleaning is done out of respect, and how much in the care of looks. With luck, someday she will learn that even in that empty gesture, there is space to remember our old ones, who they where, how we loved them.

Halloween is invasive and sales oriented, and you may find it empty of meaning, but so is cleaning a grave when done to keep up appearances.

Halloween brings happiness to our children; it brings monsters to the light, where they learn not to fear them. More than enough for me.

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