How committed are you in Second Life – the Follow Up

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”

John Lennon, (Beautiful boy, darling boy)

It’s taken me much, much longer than I’d like to push out this follow-up post about the nature of commitments in Second Life (see the post introducing the topic here if you have no idea what I’m talking about). I like to get my summaries out at least the same week in which the conversation took place (last Wednesday, 21st). Keeps it fresh, and indeed more doable.

But I didn’t.

Why? Again, I’m walking the tight rope called commitments. Fulfilling them. Recovering between living up to them. Worrying about breaking them. Worrying about having them broken. Negotiating the new ones, renegotiating the old ones. Letting other ones go. Just teetering along.

So, I won’t be quoting the many revealing comments made at the salon last week. I have read the entire conversation (all 3 hours plus of it!) several times, and tried in many ways, to uncover the underlying themes – mainly unsuccessfully.

I’ve responded to the comments left on my earlier post on this subject, and I find that in my responses are revealed my main take aways from thinking so much about commitments lately.

What I’ve learned most from this conversation about commitments, is that everyone –  that wants to talk about it at least – values commitment in Second Life as much as they might in Real Life. Given all the difficulties, given all the inherent pitfalls of a virtual world, we still – in the main – strongly believe that commitment is a good thing, and become distressed when others don’t feel the same way.

Commitments, to everyone present at the salon at least, are very, very important, and often equally important as the ones we make in RL. And the alternative would be a scary world indeed.

Yet, why do I remain unconvinced?

Perhaps it’s because everyone – EVERYONE – who had been in Second Life for at least a few months could relate a story where someone had let them down – often lightly, sometimes massively.

So, where were all these flakey people?? Did they commit to come to the salon, only to flake out at the last-minute? Did they just not want to be part of the conversation out of some deep-seated guilt? Or are the sometimes flakey people actually us – at our worst? Do we all, despite out very best intentions, have a secret flakey side? And do our flakey sides only emerge when the mood in which we made our commitments has long since changed?

If not… who is breaking these commitments we all say we value so much?

Another important theme arising was that sometimes the repercussions of changing pressures and demands, and indeed commitments, in our Real Life can have surprisingly disproportionate effects on our Second Life.

It actually doesn’t take much of a change in Real Life, to have a massive impact on our Second Life; that, to external eyes at least, might seem overly dramatic, so much so that it hardly makes sense to anyone what we might do as a result.

Of course, no one lives in our shoes. They might possibly imagine what is going on in our heads and hearts in both worlds, but they will never really know what indeed can be the Real Life straw that breaks the Second Life camel’s back, sending us toppling down from the tight rope we walk every day.

7 thoughts on “How committed are you in Second Life – the Follow Up

  1. Sometimes, First Life creates a situation where you’re not able to follow up on Second Life commitments. This happens to everybody and is nothing to get fussed about: hell, those bastards at First Life. If you don’t log in for just ONE DAY they cancel your account!
    So yeah, RL is going to come tromping in all over your SL unexpectedly sometimes: an unforeseen deadline at work, a death in the family, and so on. And I think that almost everyone understands that sometimes, RL has to come first. The place where people fall down on commitments in SL, to my view, is this: you have to let people know ‘sorry I missed the commitment I made here! My dog got hit by a car/ my mom’s in the hospital/ my boss wanted 15000 words on the flight path of an unladen African swallow.’ If you do that, in my experience, folks go ‘well… unforeseen things do happen’ and nod a bit. If you do it AS IT IS HAPPENING (pop into SL, tell the person you’re blogging for ‘I just got this huge RL commitment I have to tackle and I unfortunately won’t be around’ and then pop right off), people can actually like you for being responsible enough to let them know something else took priority but you were aware of the commitment and addressed it.
    If you don’t say anything, though, that’s where I find resentment starts festering. People tend to assume the worst they can assume, in text communication. Saying nothing doesn’t read by default as ‘so much came up that I couldn’t do this’; it’s way more likely someone will assume the message is ‘I had something interesting to do, and what I was going to do for you didn’t matter enough to me’.

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    1. I can definitely agree that if something comes up in one life that affects the other, it’s always best to let the person know that you’ll need to get out of the less urgent commitment.

      I think too that there is a difference between urgent commitments (like the ones you provide as examples) and important commitments (long lead and ongoing commitments) – in either world. Urgent commitments aren’t necessarily more important, they just need to be dealt with right now, or else really bad things will happen. It’s also useful for the person you’re letting down to understand that you are doing so not because you value their commitment less, but rather that urgency unfortunately tends to trump importance.

      I think that in those cases, people will understand. It’s when you let everything become urgent, because you’re disorganised, take on too much, or procrastinated, well… that becomes less understandable over time. If it becomes a habit, where you’re consistently dropping important commitments because “something just came up”, it becomes harder and harder to rely on you.

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  2. It was a good talk. Interesting to see how the about 10+ people made their point and to watch the way they left to other commitments. The rope with lamps mounted to be noticed as an Avatar standing and balancing on top is a great picture. Dont forget the helmet to wear!
    Art Blue [in SL]

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    1. Thanks Art! And thanks for stopping by with a comment. You’re always welcome at the Salons as you’ve got some very interesting perspectives 🙂

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      1. interesting perspectives? I was looking about the noob you and others spoke about “how great it would be to have him” if I remember correct, it was about “being invited to a dance instead of listen to Inara´s blog”, and “I must do it now” you said — the name of him was n00b96 as I wondered about the age. But age has no relevance, you just have to pass the SL registration. The name is still not registered. Wasn´t the talk about commitments?

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  3. An interesting topic. I think my knee-jerk reaction to any commitment request, RL or SL, is to think of a polite way to opt of out the commitment request. My reaction to that reaction is to then try and talk myself out of that opting out, because for one it can be quite selfish to not do stuff for others, especially when people do stuff for me. Therefore, the likelyhood of me committing myself it based on a sliding scale of Family member > Close friend > Friend > Stranger, with a stranger least likely to receive any commitment, mainly because I have a busy life with commitments already, either to myself or others. If I make a commitment I very much like to stick to it for similar reasons that you have outlined… which is one reason why my knee-jerk reaction is to opt out, since I don’t want to have to let someone down when I then have second thoughts or find I have over-booked my limited 24 hours in each day.

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    1. I like your very logical approach to commitments, and I agree, when it comes to commitments, less tends to be more. So, it’s probably a very good idea to think twice before saying “yes” to anything. It’s when we say “yes” to everyone that we end up disappointing somebody.

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