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Tuesday, July 7, 2020


For most of us, we logon to an online experience, wait for our avatar to materialize and away we go. We leave the physical world and all its responsibilities behind us. No thinking about making a hair appointment or what’s covered on our health insurance plan. Just relax, unwind and leave all our stress of the physical world behind. It’s time to move ahead to whatever your destiny has in store for you.
But what if your adventure was “responsibility”? In Second Life, the care of virtual pets and livestock is pretty commonplace now. Logging in everyday to make sure your Amaretto Horse or Dragon has been fed is all too familiar. But what if your responsibility was not for an animal but was the upbringing of a child? People have been able to partner in Second Life almost since its inception. Shortly after that, the ability to get pregnant and give birth became available. Avatar body modifications and scripting have led couples to experience virtual childbirth. But beyond that, the offspring was little more than a wire frame and polygons and that left an intellectual emptiness for new parents wanting to interact with their new bundle of joy. Now those voids are being filled by other avatars role playing as children. However unsettling age play is to some, it’s perfectly normal to others. A completely non-sexual plutonic experience with adults playing the role as minors. This might sound like something you don’t want any part of, but for those who do, the reasons are as diverse as grains of sand on a beach.

Is role playing as a minor that much different from role playing as a hundred year old mythical creature or possibly a newly born woodland animal? Those situations don’t seem far fetched but the thought of it being an adolescent human played by an adult is off putting to many. We have been taught to fear those people, that they have some secret hidden agenda. But the vast majority are and just have chosen to let their inner child come out. Of those that do enjoy this, some are compensating for a traumatic and abusive physical childhood or wanting to return to a time when they can only remember that life was good. And what about the people who choose to be parents? Some of these adults can’t have children of their own and the long road of spending hours wondering when they will receive a phone call from a physical world adoption agency can take a toll on their mental stability. Some feel a sense of guilt from thinking they are keeping their spouse from being a parent. These and many other issues can be eased with role playing filling that immediate void of parenting.

An incredible sense of joy from this symbiotic relationship can have a powerful impact in someone’s mental state. But does that experience need to end with only an immediate family? In the physical world we have many family members… aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins even God parents. All of them share, help and interact to make us who we are. Why can’t that be the case in Second Life? Lots of people make long lasting virtual world friendships with people of all walks of life. The Empty nester who comes here to express their art. The middle-aged builder who sees what kind of monument can be created. Newlywed couples seeking to spend time talking with other like minded couples. These people make friendships that turn into substantial family bonds. A sense of family from all over the globe helping, sharing and interacting in each other’s lives. These people have their own role to play tailored to their unique lifestyle.
Virtual world families, just like physical world families, enjoy spending time together. Grandparents may take their grandchildren to an amusement park SIM and try to get to know them a little better. Cousins who would have never met any other way, hangout and chat about how they cope with real life issues. And parents may confide with older avatars how different parenting techniques differ from years ago. The interaction is as endless as it is in the physical world.

This may come as a shock to some of you because it doesn’t fit your cookie cutter experiences. I for one didn’t know this entire genre existed until I started researching it. We are so used to traveling in our own linear directions we don’t stop and think there may be a path we haven’t traveled yet. But isn’t that what life’s journey has in store for us? We all start out with a plan in life, whatever that might be and very rarely does that plan become reality. There is truth in the cliché “If you want to make God laugh, then make a plan”. It’s these detours that make us who we are today. Life’s stumbles and how we cope with them makes us stronger. We all need a support network and not everyone has that in the physical world. Isn’t it nice to know that even if we feel alone, we can still have that support just a few clicks away? I for one am grateful for the friendships I have made here in Second Life. Their kind words of encouragement they express to me every day, standing by me in hard times, laughing with me when I feel silly and giving me some of their wisdom whether I asked for it or not! Isn’t that what families really are?
In my next segment, I interview children and parents of families to see exactly why they have chosen to become a Second Life Family. 


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