Strangers in Strange Lands

An image of Earth from Space
Are we on another world?

“How could you do that?”

Sometimes, people do some pretty strange things in Second Life, things that make other people wonder, “Am I missing something? Is there something fundamental going on this world that somehow eludes me?” Like a foreign custom or an alien tribal rite, it’s easy to feel like you’re a stranger in a strange land.

I could attempt to answer these questions from my own perspective. I could agree or disagree with how you see things. I think, however, that these questions relates to a much bigger question don’t they? This is a question only you can answer:

“Should I do things in SL that I can’t or won’t do in real life, just because I can?”

Can a married woman stay loyal to her RL relationship while she cavorts with an endless parade of partners in SL? Can a man cheat on his wife with someone only in SL, just because he can? Can a woman be in two meaningful and loving relationships at the same time, with or without the other party’s knowledge or consent?

Of course they can. But, should they?

Could the reason for these questions be that you might be wondering if the principles, values or natural laws at work in this relatively new world might be different than what they might be back here on earth?

We can do so many things in Second Life that seem to defy natural physical laws: Like gods, we can fly. We can teleport. We can change outfits in an instant. We can change our shapes and skins like we change our shoes. It truly is a different world, isn’t it? It is truly a new world with new rules.

Might there an alternate definition of honesty in Second Life? What about fidelity? What about the golden rule?

To me, there is not. There is only one set of principles for life, and they are one and the same in both real and second life. They are the same as they might be if you and I were living with each other in the same house, chatting with each other over Skype, talking on the phone, or interacting with each other on Second Life. Why? Because SL is not as much as a second life as the name suggests, rather it’s as my friend Harvey once offered, a second body.

The technology that acts as the conduit for our relationships in Second Life is purely incidental. The challenge here emerges when the technology we are using is so immersive, yet so foreign, that it seems like a different world.

It isn’t.

To me, Second Life is merely an augmentation – a prosthesis –  a tool that opens a door to think, be and do things differently as I might in real life. Like driving a car might act as a prosthesis of my foot, it doesn’t change what is right and what is wrong in the world, despite how powerful or invincible I may imagine myself to be in my glass and metal bubble.

It’s still me that has to wake up with myself the morning after. It’s still me that has to live with whatever I do here. To deny that, is to truly live in a world of your own.

7 thoughts on “Strangers in Strange Lands

  1. Im not sure what u mean exactly but i agree, partly anyhoo. On the other hand if you mean that second life should be a copy of our RL i dont agree. If you think shapeshifting is wrong, i dont agree. This is a virtual reality and I aim to do a lot of things here that i cant do irl, just because I can. Shapeshift and owning virtual horses and a lot more stuff. But I wont hurt anyone else while I do it if i can help it. But if they get “hurt” by me shifting shape, i wont get a headache by that 🙂


    1. Hey Mera, thanks for stopping by! I think I can summarise my position with this sentence from the post above: I see SL as a “a tool that opens a door to think, be and do things differently as I might in real life…” So sure, if you want to be a horse (and I’ve considered after I saw that horse avatar you blogged about!). attach wings to myself and fly around all day – Awesome! Why not right?

      I run a exotic gentlemen’s club in SL. Should I or shouldn’t I? Well, that’s my choice and no one else’s. However, I can’t deny that doing so hasn’t had effects on me in real life, I can’t deny it hasn’t changed me – both positive and negative.

      I’m more talking about principles of behaviour. Is it ok to be mean-spirited in SL because I am disquised by anomymity? Can I act as if there are no consequences or I have no responsiblity because it’s “just a game” or “a virtual world”? No, I don’t think so.

      I think we’re on the same page 🙂


  2. I’ve wondered about these issues also, Becky. One of the rules I’ve tried to live by, unsuccessfully, is to avoid SL relationships with RL married guys. Unfortunately, many married guys simply hide the fact that they are married. Or some RL married couples have agreements with regard to online activities, that is, until one or the other gets too serious with a SL partner.

    I’ve seen a married woman join SL to find out what her husband is up to. She friended me because I lived on the sim her husband owned, and where he lived with his SL lover. Ultimately, they couple divorced and he moved in with his SL lover.

    I’ve seen all these things happening and more. And I wonder.


    1. Great example of cause and effect!

      People who are new to virtual worlds tend to think that because Second Life looks like a video game, and feels like a video game, then it must be a video game! At the end of the game, you just turn it off and go to bed. Life goes on.

      I think that many people bring that same cavalier attitude to Second Life. Of course, the consequences of doing so are self-evident.


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