Well, according to secondlife.com, Second Life(c) is a “3D world where everyone you see is a real person and every place you visit is built by people just like you.” Meaning, that Second Life is a platform in which you can create a unique experience for yourself.
The user’s experience is enriched through exploration and discovery, making new friends that share the commonality of being a Second Life user, those crafty enough can create designs for sell with the Second Life economy and commerce system. Second Life is a place full of surprises and adventure for just about everyone.
And, with Second Life being so fruitful, we all know that the platform can distract us for hours on end, keeping us engaged with all that it has offer. It is so easy to get swallowed up in all of the madness, that we lose sight of Real Life and who we are as a person, which comes with the territory. But, for other reasons, some users allow themselves to be consumed by this cool monster, as it is the perfect defense mechanism for those of us that suffers from social “disabilities." It allows us total control something we, as users, may lack in the real world.
Take for instance, Billy Diesel. Billy and I met on a family community sim, Ocean Pointe, a community that was established to mirror Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When Billy and I met, you could see that the world of Second Life was something that was merely a brief vacation from the real world for him, aside from Billy’s duties to friends and his Firemen post. Speaking with this man, I have come to find that these reasons are what has had a positive impact on his RL and what caused him to cling onto mercilessly to Second Life at the beginning of his SL residency. He states that “prior to SL [he] was a wall flower, very laid back and often worried at times in a social situation. I faced a tragedy in RL, I slipped into a deep depression, I was suicidal, it took on and manifest itself as insomnia…I had nothing in life, no one to talk to no one that needed me, and then a friend said try SL…I meet someone three weeks in and we have been RL lovers for 10 months now, it changed my life.”
As I continue to talk to Billy, I wanted to know if the changed context of his life has created a hedonistic chain to the Second Life platform, making it hard for him to leave the grid… “No, I could walk away right now," he replies. He carries on, “I could deactivate today, but my basis for playing [is] to unwind, and if I do not get SL time today ...oh well.” However, he opens up to mention that he was not at all like this prior to his metamorphosis. I asked the question of his perception on individuals that are not so iron-willed, and he opens up, “people like that need to step out of SL, turn off their computer and get a life. I was that person seven months ago (laughs), [now] I incorporated logging off into my therapy.” To get to a place of simply logging off of the Second Life platform, and I knew that he had used a strategy to get there, so I asked. The answer did not consist of a seven step program, it was a moment of realization that SL is not RL. The notion that Second Life is just a virtual realm, in which the imaginable is possible, is what severed those almost impermeable ties.
For some that whelm themselves in the realm of Second Life, the trip is less tragic and alluring. Reiterating that Second Life is a realm of adventure, creativity and socialization, some come already with mental blocks to remain balanced and focused on these aspects alone. Aubreya is one such person. She divulges that she comes to the grid for its highly social ambiance. “When I first started [Second Life], it was just a social thing. From that meeting, new people brought new things to my SL like music, dancing, and art. So, I had become involved with those things and made them apart of my SL. I come here now to work, dance and enjoy live music and express my creativity in my own way.” For this reason, Aubreya feels that her SL experience has positively affected her RealLife experience, sharing that she is now able to use SL as an outlet for her talents and to learn new things to enhance her Real Life self.
Blair Leifstrom shares the same sentiments with Aubreya, that SL is a channel for her creativity, but her focus sits in the infamous SL fashion industry. Blair kindly states that it was the SL fashion industry that drew her onto the platform. It betrothed her so that she enrolled in one of the many fashion model schools to begin a career in fashion and fashion blogging. The impact of the SL experience on Blair’s Real Life lessened as she utilizes scheduled management to remain mentally planted to reality in all of the fun that can be had on Second Life. Blair also mentioned that while on the grid, she was able to find balance within herself as it helped her with her depression and social anxiety. She discovered a group that was able to her remedy the social disabilities that she suffered. Now, she thoroughly thanks and enjoy the SL experience as it has become a small integral piece of her life, instrumental in her reformation.
Second Life is a virtual realm that plays a great part in the lives of many.
Sure, it provides adventure, socialization, shopping and a creative outlet, but it proves to be much more than a world that could ingest the mind of someone, pulling them away from reality. It has helped individuals better themselves socially and creatively. With a scheduled escape to Second Life, much like Blair, it is clear to see that you can enjoy the benefits of Second Life without being totally enraptured by the gaming platform.
Aubreya Joszpe: http://shadowssilhouettes.wordpress.com/aubreya-joszpe-aubs/
Blair Leifstrom: http://www.wix.com/blairleifstrom/modelportfolio