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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Spotlight on Families in SL - Areya Jewel Dragon Reporting



Are SL Families as real as RL families?

Family. What does that word suggest when you hear it? Is it a happy feeling? Is it an angry feeling? No matter who a person is or where they come from, it is certain that they at one point had a family in some shape or form, but what is a family? Is there only one definition? Are Second Life families the same as Real Life ones?

I have been in SL for 12 years and have experienced the power of family in SL many times and I also have many family members in RL as well. The major difference between SL family and RL is that SL is virtual, but does that difference get in the way of real bonds forming?

I don’t believe it does, for me the relationships I have made in SL are just as powerful as the ones in RL, if not more because they are chosen.

There are countless types of families in both RL and SL, we are all unique and different, so our relationships will all be unique and different.

I knew that every family was different in both RL and SL so to help with my point I decided to look up what it said about family in the dictionary:

1 a: the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also: any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family
2 : a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head :
3 a : a group of persons of common ancestry : clan
b : a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock : race
4 a : a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation
What I have listed is just half of the list because they have to do with people and since that is my focus for this piece, that is all I will mention.


Webster’s dictionary is a RL dictionary, but I have come across each of the above list in SL as well.
  1. Traditional family Unit:

This is the typical family you would see in RL. It comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Single parent, Two parent, same sex, single child, siblings. All of those are found in RL and they are also found in SL. They are as real as any RL family is. The way that most of these types of families are put together is through the many adoption places that are found throughout the grid or by going through the conceiving process. Speaking from my own experience the bonds formed with this type of family is completely authentic and valuable and, in some cases, more real than a RL family connection.

2) A group of individuals living under one roof and one head

The second type of family listed in the dictionary is also found in SL, the equivalent of this concept would be in the world of D/s and BDSM. It is an adult world which the focus is a power exchange of some form or another. There are many forms of relationship dynamics within the world of D/s but one I have experience with is one head of the household (or Master) and two people who are under the head (two submissives) This power exchange family has the potential to be just as real as one would be in RL.

3) A group of common ancestry (a clan)

This family group is slightly different than the first two because you can’t share real heritage or ancestry with avatars, however. You can find many groups in SL that have people who are very proud of their RL heritage and want to find others who have the same one. There are also people who seek out roleplay as things you wouldn’t typically find in RL, for example Vampires. There are many people who choose to live their lives as vampires and are part of a clan, and those groups chose to be bonded to one another and have the potential to form meaningful relationships just as you would in RL.
4) United by certain convictions or common affiliation

The last type of family I want to talk about is one who share a common belief system. There are many types of these types of families in RL but there are also many in SL as well. These typically would be the many churches that are available to attend. These people share a common RL belief and want to bring that belief to SL and because of the many amazing people that have made this platform what it is, the opportunity to share in that common belief is available in SL. All valid and authentic just as they would be in RL.  
To conclude, the point I want to make is that even though SL is a virtual world there are still real people that are part of it, and we as people crave relationship and belonging in the form of a family we all want to be part of something. No matter what it may look like.
In the words of Lilo, of Lilo and Stitch: “Lilo: "'Ohana" means "family." "Family" means "noone gets left behind."
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