Normality

One thing absolutely surprising about Second Life residents is that far more of them are normal than you have any right to expect.

They will say they aren’t quite often, but despite Dakota Tebaldi‘s lovely satirical “survey“, answering which they gleefully announce how depraved and insane they are, despite the large collection of sexual fetishes, despite that many people actually feel that what they do in Second Life is in some way an aberration, it is far more normal than they themselves realize. Everyone has their own kinks, everyone has strong feelings, everyone has desires that cannot be satisfied due to social pressure in the First Life — desire to be unique and different, desire to engage in behaviors that are impossible, desire to live fully and to strive for greater things, or at the very least, greater quantities if you aren’t the sort for greater things.

Don’t tell me you think it isn’t normal. Everyone has that.

Second Life acts as an eternal resort town — where nobody knows your name and nobody cares, where you can leave your day job back at home, where you don’t really know anyone, and the social pressure that prevents you from pursuing your desires is lifted — because you no longer have to keep your true name clean and it loses it’s magical power over you. I don’t know if English contains an idiom like “resort romance”, but Russian does — a relationship that exists only within the sealed locus of a space where your life is untraceable. No wonder so much of Second Life is endless beachland.

But it’s an eternal resort town. You don’t move in for the season and then move out, you come in and stick. You start growing a new name, and with it eventually comes new social pressure — a different one, because it comes with a different set of values, but any pressure can sometimes be stifling. Thankfully, moving in again is easy, and thus a new alt gets born… but I digress.

A “resort romance” usually grows fast. It may sometimes result in consequences reaching far outside it, or it may not, but it is usually fast. That is because within a resort town, everything is within walking distance, and few things are available to do that everyone else wouldn’t be doing at the same time. The time-space locus is small. Second Life is far bigger than a resort town, but it’s locus is even smaller. Absolutely everything is a button click away. In First Life, at the very least you have to spend minutes or hours going there, wherever it is that you might meet other people to interact with, and coming back, and it gives you time to think, to reassess, to understand what is happening. Not so in a resort town, where you just walk there, and definitely not so in Second Life, where people will often stay online until the very moment it’s time for them to drop asleep. Compress space and you compress time, everything will go faster.

But that compression comes at a cost. You don’t really have the time to think about what you’re saying right there when you talk. You don’t really have the opportunity to think why are you doing what you are doing, and whether it is a good idea — the iron is hot and then you strike. It takes being very conscious of yourself to avoid doing things you would never do, if you knew what you are doing — consciously knew.

But few people are really conscious more than half their waking time, which is also normal. Normal people think in normal ways. And these usually involve doing more or less the same things as they did yesterday, over and over, same things as their parents did, same things that their teachers taught them, things they have seen in the movies. They are behaving like they should and feeling what they think they should, even if there is no logic to it.

And in Second Life, they do it very, very fast.

Wake up. Because this isn’t the same as the usual resort town.

You’re never really going to leave it. It’s not sealed in itself. And just like First Life, your Second one is no less a Life, and is real.

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