Is it really all supposed to be fun?

Canary Beck at Wild Coast
"I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." Muhammad Ali Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/rest.html#ixzz1ih7DOd2Y

Oh what a day! I’m finding, as I write this, to be a bit hard to be totally honest on here about SL work stuff. I suppose because whatever I might write here affects other people’s privacy and it’s kind of easy with such a small group to know exactly who I’m talking about. So for now, suffice to say, yesterday was a bit of a day from hell. For me, a day from hell equals a day of misunderstandings, anger, headaches, false assumptions, nervousness, insecurity and fear. And on those days, thank goodness for friends who shine detoxifying spotlights of objectivity when your own personal insecurities decide to attempt a coup d’etat on your brain!

After all the SL work shenigans, I desperately wanted to relax, so I teleported over to the Wild Coast. As an aside, I find myself turning to Wild Coast as a refuge more and more. If you’re unacquainted with it, it’s a member’s only naturist resort that has a strict all-nude policy. I like it there because I’m effectively anonymous (out of sight, out of mind). Also, I find the physical process of shedding my clothes and entering Wild Coast almost like inhabiting a different self, free of the trappings of my regular routine that is moderately obsessed with the way I and others appear.

Soon enough, I was talking with a guy I’d met there several weeks before. After a few catch up exchanges, he perceptively asked me what was on my mind, because I was quieter than usual. I gave him a quick overview of the days events, much like the one above. And then he said it: “But, Becky, it’s supposed to be fun.”

I’ve heard this many times before, of course. Maybe you have too. It’s the constant refrain of consequence-free hedonists that I encounter every day on SL. I said “Sure it is, but it can’t all be fun. I mean, nothing is fun all the time, is it?”

I appreciate people’s good intentions around recommending me to limit myself to ‘having fun in SL’. For many, SL is meant to be an escape from pressures of the “real world”. For some, it’s a game, a distraction, or way of seperating onself from the harsh or mundane reality of one’s 1st life. Of course, all of those reasons for engaging in SL are legitimate.

But all the time? I must be having fun ALL the time? Seriously, why is there all this unrelenting pressure to “keep it fun” at all times? It’s just not realistic. And, it’s just this kind of attitude that makes avoiding any kind of effort the easy way out in SL. Second Life is full of these “easy ways out“:

  • If I don’t like what you say, I can just mute you
  • If I don’t like the fact you’re around me, I can derender you
  • If I a job gets too serious or challenging, I can just quit
  • If a friendship is challenging, I can just defriend you
  • If you are creating a problem in my sim, I can eject or ban you
  • If I feel uncomfortable in a place, I can just teleport away
  • If a conversation gets too difficult, I can just log off

It may sound ridiculously obvious, but we all know real life isn’t like that. And while I am fully aware that SL isn’t real life, I’m still real. And, I still want to grow as a result of my experiences here. And growth is rarely achieved by taking the “easy way out”.

I can’t help but think that many things that are fun, rewarding and lead to any kind of growth in the real world require effort and hard work. For example, I find snowboarding heaps of fun. I find it effortless! And over the years, snowboarding has brought me loads of social opportunities, increases in self-confidence, and a pretty cool fashion outlet. But it wasn’t at all fun and effortless in the first few days, when my ass was repeatedly and not so gently introduced time and time again to the hard and often frozen mountainside.

In the Second Life context, the act of delivering ADA classes is an amazing amount of fun. But of course, getting it off the ground, getting it all organised, dealing with all the challenges along the way – c’mon, I can imagine loads of ways of having more fun. Let’s face it, it just can’t be fun all the time – unless you don’t have any intentions of growing at all. If you can get through the initial muck of pushing through your comfort zone, it can be hella fun!

So, I’m going to respectfully disagree with what seems to be an SL truism that is thrown around as if it’s self-evident. Effortless fun can be fleeting, like the temorary high afforded by a sugar-glazed jelly donut. But fun that’s the result of real effort, struggle, and even a little pain, is fun that lasts and enables you to grow.

Me at my Wild Coast hideaway

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