For many people, Second Life is a great recreation, for others, life would be very lonely, boring, and painful without it. First, let me introduce you to our cast of characters for this poll.
Polly*: 45. Mother of three, divorced, on disability for Multiple Sclerosis as well as the host of secondary problems MS can cause.
John*: 37. Suffers from crippling social anxiety, works in IT. No kids, not married. Recently was fired because they discovered he’d been using Cannabis to treat his anxiety (in a legal state no less,) but has been a prolific SL builder for years, which is now his source of income completely.
Letty*: 24. Lives with her parents due to a car accident that left her a paraplegic with an as yet undiagnosed neurological issue that causes occasional bouts of black-out amniesia, headaches daily, and problems with memory.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Lilly: How has Second Life helped you? (In ANY ways relevant.)
John: Well, I don’t have that same overwhelming anxiety meeting new people on SL like I do in RL. Luckily, working in IT means my contact with others is minimal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave a social life, friends, girlfriends, etc.
Letty: For me, Second Life has been a blessing because it’s always a task for me to have to go anywhere. My accident left me with some weakness on my right side, add that to paralysis and you can see how hard getting out in RL can be. I have to have my mom help me into her van, that she had to pay thousands of dollars to have a wheelchair lift installed, not to mention she has to lift me into the van, and she has back problems. My dad helps where he can, but he has early onset Alzhiemers’, and often needs more help than I do. Second Life is a way me to go make new friends, go to movies with them (SL is riddled with movie theatres,), and do any number of things I can’t with my body. You have no idea how therapeutic that is.
Polly: For me, I just can’t AFFORD to have a social life, with such a limited income, and three kids to try to care for too. If it wasn’t for my mother in law, who cares about her grandkids more than their own father, taking us in to her home, we never would have made it! But in Second Life? If I have even so little as 5 dollars left at the end of the month, I can change that over into Lindens and buy beautiful dresses, jewelry…basically, I dress her like I would dress me if I could afford, only about 15 years younger! (laughs)
Lilly: So then, would you say that Second Life is just a game, or an extension of your real life?
Letty (laughing): This IS my real life! So yeah, way more than just a dinky game!
John: Well, I DO love gaming, so I can see how it could honestly be both. It is a game, or it starts out that way, then for some people, it becomes an extension of their lives, for me, it’s definitely an extension of my life, because on the rare occasions I do try to go out with friends, it’s a tense, chaotic experience of nerves and insecurities overwhelming you. In Second Life, I can go to a nightclub, full of beautiful people and not be self conscious because on here, even though we look different, you cannot argue we aren’t made out of all the same parts. So yeah, that’s something SL could teach RL at this point!
Polly: I really don’t know how to not repeat myself from the last question, but for me, it’s definitely an extension of my real life. I’ve even talked a couple of my girlfriends into creating accounts so when we’re all swamped with RL obligations and can’t see each other, at least by the end of the day, and when everything is done, then we can all get on together, and go clubbing! I’m not about to try that in RL, I know everyone still tries to tell me 45 is young, but it’s not young enough to go to the places I can go in SL, or wear the things I want to wear in SL in RL, it just wouldn’t work. Please don’t take this as low self esteem, I’m just being a realist. Who wants to dance with the spastic 45 year old woman when there are a bunch of young, healthy things flitting in and out of reach like so many perfect butterflies? No thanks, I’ll go to a club here and fit in with the butterflies, thanks!
*Names have been changed, not because of request of anonymity, but because I wanted them to retain their privacy in the light of such revealing testimonies, and because in SL especially, no one wants to wear a label that holds them back in RL.