Milestones in Second Life

Brown Bagging it at Basilique

Most people come into Second Life in one of two ways.

One way that’s familiar to most of us might be termed dissociative. We might first consider Second Life as something to try as a diversion. When we enter, we look for what immediate needs it can fulfil. We tend not to see our avatar as ourselves – but as nothing more than a game character.

We enter the world as babies do, unaware of ourselves and others. We learn to walk, talk, dress and connect with others in superficial ways. Some people in this stage remain this way – some might choose to grief others, or quickly tire of Second Life, wondering what the point is.

Other people enter the world aiming to get a job done – like teaching, building, or performing. They will come online to do this job, and log out when finished. They don’t tend to engage with the greater community unless it’s necessary as a consequence of their role, preferring usually to mix with the people associated with their work. Educators, like my friend Ylva, came into Second Life this way; as do some artists – especially, I’ve noticed, performers like singers and musicians.

Moving from these stages to the next, where one begins to engage in the world on its own terms, instead of an “analogy of real life”, is the first major Second Life milestone.

Once that happens, we are a sponge slipping into a sink, becoming immersed.

Different things might trigger it. It can happen little by little, or all at once. We might recognise it as a gentle touch on our elbow, from someone we’re working with – as remembered by my friend Lark. It might happen when visiting to an art gallery, and when reflecting on one’s experience, feeling like one was actually there – which is how it happened for my friend Huck.

Often, the trigger is a feeling for another person. Sometimes it’s a feeling of personal pride in how one might appear, or an embarrassment as a result of some clumsy thing we’ve done. In that sometimes fleeting moment, the avatar is no longer apart – she, or he, is you.

From this moment, I think the world can really begin to expand. One might identify with one’s avatar to the point where there is no meaningful distinction, whilst others may remain disassociated, but still feel attached and immersed.

It’s at this stage where one involves oneself in meaningful relationships, where one is faithful to the feelings one has, and learns how important it is to be respectful and empathetic with others. It’s also at this stage where one might become heavily immersed in projects or other interests here.

These things, these activities, these feelings – become very important to us, because they are for us, as real as anything.

From there, I think we experience the typical milestones we experience in real life – within the limits of virtuality.

We make friends.
We consume.
We give.
We create.
We feel love.
We share more of ourselves more than we ever thought we might.
We make ourselves vulnerable.
We feel loss.
We crash.
We burn.
We get up, and we keep going.
Rinse and repeat.

There’s no order to it. Just like life.

Eventually however, many of us grow up. We mature and become less worried about the past, the future, or the vagaries of the going ons of others. As my friend Ylva discovered, we begin to live much, much more in the moment. We take it all – all the weirdness, the hopes, the frustrations and enjoyments – with a very large grain of salt, and remain aware that not everyone sees, and feels the world as we do.

And in this moment, we find peace.

Note: This post is a slightly more tidy version of my contribution to last night’s Basilique Chat Salon, on the topic of Avatar Milestones. If you’re interested in joining our discussions – we meet every Wednesday at 2pm SLT, at Basilique.

9 thoughts on “Milestones in Second Life

  1. Time to comment *smiles.

    So you’re peeling the onion layer by layer to find the answer as to why are you here or what causes this place to have a hold on you making you happy to log in? Canary, musing is so so so much fun as a quest in the mind. I and others have tried to find the holy grail but are only able to use words and rarely project that essence we feel, frustrating isn’t it.

    I really enjoyed this and there is an exercise I would ask you to maybe try, I did it. Try to remove any reference to Second Life in your post and it starts to sound like some obscure place in (just) life. Is the term Second Life not just a label for some of us and what happens here to us, through our av’s. is really just our life.

    When you think about it in the abstract SL+RL = Life and it has to, too make sense. Have you ever dreamt about second life? Are not dreams a window on our souls and about life.

    I don’t know where that magic line is that moves us from a game to a sense of real but a lot of us have crossed it although few would admit it.

    Is it possible that the line exists where we place it?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say you’re right, although I’m not sure we consciously place that line. I think instead, we stumble over it, and only realise it after we’ve tripped 🙂


  2. And then there’s the crazy one who is very very fond of her avatar she refers to as her ‘puppet’… with deep affection of course 😉 [ I know what it is! It’s a Gemini thing! ]

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There was a point where I stopped distinguishing between SL and RL friendships in so far as one group might be more important then the other by an arbitrary default. They stand on there own now and grow irrespective of the medium.

    I find myself, a grown up in SL, surrounded by good people. Comfortable there, I can look back at my youth and realize that I went through a sophomoric stage that I hope I’ve left behind!

    Liked by 2 people

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