“What brought you to Second Life, and what keeps you here?” This was the topic of our first Basilique Salon. And the answers, as expected, were diverse, and so very interesting!
We first heard from a gent who entered Second Life by pure coincidence. A chance registration resulted in meeting a woman from across the ocean that would become his real life wife-to-be. “We have managed to get over the time differences,” he noted, “that involves a bit of a nap when I get in from work to allow me to be here until 1:30am daily.” He’ll be moving across the pond next month to join her in RL, as they continue their journey together. “So I suppose we are an SL success story,” he said with a smile.
Then, we heard from a woman who first heard about Second Life through an article in a magazine. “Given that the sex industry of SL was at its peak,” she explained, “I decided to be an escort”. She used her “explorations and sexcapades to spice up (her and her boyfriend’s) sex life in RL”. After becoming creeped out by the sex industry and disillusioned with the club scene, she reinvented herself as blogger and builder, and a significant contributor to the dialogue that is currently helping us better understand our world. Still, she adds “SL gives me a way to indulge in concepts and fantasies that I can’t in RL.”
We then heard from a woman who found her work taking her to far-flung destinations, with often only the four walls of her hotel room for company… “SL,” she said, “In a lot of ways, kept me from losing my mind in those little rooms.” What keeps her here are the possibilities, as she explained: “You can be laying out on a beach naked, BSing with someone you’ve never met before… thinking there’s not a chance that you’ll meet a real personality that day. And suddenly find that the person your talking to is someone you want to talk to again.”
After that we turned to a woman who found herself trapped in the Welcome Centre for nearly three weeks! “I couldn’t find a way out of there… lol”. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed, she got over her first discouragement after kind lady took her under her wing and showed her the world beyond Orientation Island. Meeting a man a while later, “we began our journey together, from one apartment, to a bigger lot and bigger and bigger… till now we have a homestead that we love.” She now finds that “the ability to create and share our fun with others” keeps her here. That, and her husband to-be, our gent from a few paragraphs up.
Then we heard from a woman who worked in the computer and internet section of a bookstore in 2007. She kept hearing all about “this new cool chat place that’s all the rage in the US” from book salesmen. She thought she’d check it out, so that she could talk to her customers about it and tell them which guidebooks to choose, should they ask. After building up her avatar, she hit the money trees (remember those?!?) imagining that might be the ‘aim of the game’. Later she met a friend that helped her discover the Second Life that wasn’t found in the guidebook: “I discovered that it’s a lot more intriguing than just grabbing a handful of Lindens.” Her friend now long-gone from SL, she hopes to “make a small business and create pretty things my picky artist soul feels okay enough with to sell to others.” She shares her full story in her blog.
Then we heard from a woman that’s been in Second Life for just about 6 weeks. Seeking self-knowledge, the idea of “slow, old-fashioned conversation” appealed to her. Intrigued by my stories of what you could do in SL (she is an RL friend of mine) she took the plunge and found herself on Orientation Island. “Welcome Island was a hoot!” she said, “Almost as soon as I got there, there was a giant baby and what appeared to be a gigantic ‘Black Hole’ surrounding the baby… the music that was playing was a guy saying “one down, 3 more to go!’ and he seemed to be shooting the new avatars…so I was wondering: ‘What the hell is this place!?’” Later, she fast-forwarded through the process of creating herself in SL. Now, six weeks in, she started asking herself, “Why am I here?” She’s found that it’s the pause - that space between stimulus and response – that can often be so lacking in our fast-paced, fragmented real-life, where she can be present and aware, and learn more about herself as she interacts with this wild world of ours and all the people in it. She’ll be chronicling her discoveries in her blog.
Next came a woman who is now a Linden lab employee. She shared her story about chatting over Yahoo! voice and AOL Messenger, then hearing about Second Life through her internet friends from places like LiveJournal and MySpace (yes, she’s clearly a veteran of these here parts!). After pursuing her interests in Second Life, she joined the company to be part of the “real social space” that was emerging. She continued: “These stories like the ones you are all sharing are what make it so intriguing for me, along with my own experience.” I asked her if she could help spread the word around the Lab about our little get-together and she replied: “Oh it’s open and known – so I’d expect you will see more of us “Lindens” about.”
There were many other stories that I’d love to share, but I’m nearing the 1000 word mark on this post. In summary, it was fast-paced and engaging conversation that everyone not only enjoyed, but even considered “rare” in Second Life.
I hope that you will join us at the Basilique Club for our next Salon, on Wednesday at 1pm SLT when we’ll discuss the topic:
Second Life: A lonely place, or an escape from loneliness?”
A special thanks to Mona Eberhardt for cleaning up the local chat transcription of the session so that I could easier summarise it for this post.