According to a poll by BBC London, more than a quarter of Londoners say they feel lonely often or all of the time. And this proportion gets bigger, the older people get. Mark Twain called New York “a splendid desert – a domed and steepled solitude, where the stranger is lonely in the midst of a million of his race.”
And it’s not just urban dwellers that face the challenge of feeling lonely. People living in rural areas have a unique set of circumstances that can exacerbate social loneliness, especially among older people.
Mental health workers suggest that it is “not a big step to go from feeling persistently lonely to having clinical depression. There is a danger of “‘social loneliness’, where a person feels disconnected from their family, friends and community, combining with ’emotional loneliness’ where people feel they are in a dark and empty place” despite how many people might live or work nearby.
To escape the socially fragmented world in which we live today, many people turn to Second Life, to meet and socialise with people all over the world, from the comfort of wherever we might be – deep in the undergrowth of an overcrowded urban jungle, or a lone speck of humanity in an ocean of vastness with only the sound of the wind against the trees for a neighbour.
Yet, if you’ve been in Second Life for any length of time, you know from both intuition and daily observation that many people spend much of their time alone. And as happens in the non-virtual world in which our bodies live, sheer numbers are no antidote to this digital anomie either.
In many ways, Second Life is a like a great big city, and can often feel similarly isolating, even cold-hearted, in its emotional desolation. In other ways, its like the rural outback, where we might visit stunningly beautiful locations; the one green dot for as far as the eye can see on the mini map.
The other day I was dancing in a crowded club and received a notecard that said:
Have you spent time in a club or store hoping desperately that someone would chat to you? Have you longed to go clubbing but have no one to go with? Are you or do you want to be sexy and stylish? Do you want to be able to chat to friends no matter what time of day it is? Do you enjoy shopping, chatting or dancing? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to flash mob a club? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then MSM (Mini Skirt Mafia) is for you!
It turns out MSM is a network of over 400 girls that attend regular dance events, enjoy a lot of friendly group chat, go clubbing together, and flash mob.
The irony is that many of us have discovered the fact that Second Life can be a very lonely place, even for those of us aiming to escape the loneliness in our day-to-day lives.
So what is Second Life for you? A lonely place? Or an escape from loneliness? Or is it neither? Maybe you can’t relate to how anyone could consider this big, crowded, ever-changing world of ours to be lonely?
Whatever your perspective, join us this Wednesday at 1PM SLT at the Basilique Club, where I’ll be hosting an open chat to share our experiences with this issue. If you can’t make it, please answer the question below, and I might share it with the group that turns up.
Hopefully see you there!