Friday, April 18, 2008

I've been pondering on the nature of existence. Virtual worlds have a tendency to make you think I feel... my mother insists that the friends I have there are not real friends because I have only met them virtually... as far as she is concerned only people I have met in real life can qualify as friends.

I tried to explain to her that the people I meet in Second Life may actually be people I know more deeply than in real life; it's hard to say. In real life people are distracted by what they can see of you, your gender, size, attractiveness, age, accent, the way you dress, how you cut your hair, the shoes you wear, the choices you make about the way you look - all those things can attract or repel, interest or bore people.

It is true that people can pretend to be people they are not, and can conceal truths about themselves online or in a virtual space, that would be obvious in real life. My avatar is an attractive 25 year old in Second Life and I would not be able to sustain that for a minute in real life... but she represents a purer version of me, in that in Second Life I can be myself, stripped of all the baggage I carry in real life, and also separate from things that are my roles and responsibilities, like being a mother, daughter, etc.

I love being a mother, adore my children, have deeply enjoyed them and their company while they grow up, but even so, the idea of having a space where I do not have to consider that part of my life, is attractive.

Some years ago, a friend's son was ill with meningitis. While the crisis was going on, they were too taken up with the necessity of looking out for him to involve their friends... and look out for him they did... the father grabbed the telephone and demanded that the pediatrician on duty for the accident and emergency department they found themselves in should come and see to their son: this may have saved his life.

He was ill and they found it hard to trust the hospitals, as I have done. I went to help them one day, just to offer some support, as did others on different days. I felt like I stepped out of my life in that day, and joined them in their world, and at the end of it I was able to step back into my life again.

I think of myself as being basically the same person that I was when young... but then I didn't have or know the children, and many people who were important to me then, bosses and co-workers, friends and people I saw every day, I haven't seen or heard from in years and years.

It's hard to know until they perfect time travel, and even if they did, I'm sure there would be rules against meeting yourself in time... oh ignore me, I've lost the thread of what I was saying.

The nature of being, the nature of knowing people, the nature of knowing yourself... they're all things which fascinate me. I used to explore a lot in Second Life... and learned a lot about myself too. I made the mistake of hijacking someone else's IP before I knew better, and realised fast that I didn't want to be that person (once someone pointed out the error of my ways).

I am more changeable and volatile in virtual worlds than in real life... in real life I have a tendency to let everything wash over me. In Second Life I don't. Which is the real me?