Saturday, January 16, 2010

Are we normal? Do we care? Look at my bellybutton with me.


My friend Fricker walked up while I was rolling around in the snow taking this picture. That's not embarrassing or anything.

Hell yeah, I got milk.

Camp for 15 minutes at Cutie Honey to get this whole cow ensemble, minus the shoes. The shoes are from Anexx. The cow (ACTUALLY, it's a BULL!) hat with hair is included though! So is the darling little purse. And those eyes on the hat are animated. Cutie, honey! That skin is in the Tasha2 fatpack at LAQ. And that's my bullish Look of the Day for you.

I love my friends because they tolerated me in this outfit for a whole day.


That sexy chick in green actually is a male friend of mine in his female alt. It irritates me to no end when a man creates a female AV that's hotter than mine -- with better clothes, nonetheless. Sheeeeeesh, I am a complete failure as a woman in all worlds. *weeps*

As long as we're on the topic of friends, I have one in real life who tends to drive me insane. (And I hate the fact that I have to distinguish "real life," especially in this particular post.) I'm not going to psychoanalyze her or anything, but I do think she's the type of person who can't be alone with her thoughts -- mainly because she calls me about 35 times a day. I can only take her in small doses because she's a little clingy and Never. Stops. Talking.

Even at our age, which is crawling reluctantly towards 40, she's still really big on going to bars and picking up men, and she'll pretty much go home with any guy who gives her the time of day. Then she wails all week about why he's not calling her. It makes me sooooooooo damn tired. And hell no, she doesn't seem to have any other friends. I wonder why.

The one thing she simply cannot compute is why, if I'm not doing anything on the weekends, I sometimes don't want to go out. And these days, "sometimes" is a lot of the time. It's cold outside and I'd rather stay home in pajamas with hot chocolate and goof around with my friends in world than go to a lame bar and sit around dork-watching. I'm perfectly content to hang out in Second Life, and when I do, I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. I don't feel socially unfulfilled. I probably laugh harder at things in SL than I do in real life . . .

. . . like at my friend Soph and her creepy, creepy Zooby baby:


That thing is disturbing and expensive.

(runs and hides)

Meanwhile, I bought a cheaper one for 200L at a black-market baby store:


The stuff horror movies are made of: that baby and my ugly hand.

Back to my friend -- I finally broke down and came out of the SL closet one night when she was being annoyingly insistent in demanding an explanation about why I wouldn't go out. I gave her the whole "sometimes I hang out online with my friends who live in other states. We use this forum called Second Life. It's like a chat room but a lot more fun. I just feel like doing that tonight instead of the bar thing" spiel.

I gave her the Second Life Web address. I encouraged her to check it out. She did. Later she called me complaining about it. She didn't understand it. It stressed her out. She thought it was stupid. She couldn't figure out how to do anything. It seemed weird. Was I being serious? Why didn't I wanna go get sushi?

I started wondering if any shrinkish-type people have done any studies on what type of personality embraces and thrives in a virtual world and what type of personality shrieks in protest and runs from one. Demographically, my friend and I are the same: We're both single professional women in the same age range who are pretty much hanging out with each other by default in a land of married people. Almost everyone else we know here in suburbia is part of a couple. It can get lonely, so I choose to seek solace in a virtual reality while she strives to create one that looks like everyone else's. We both look at each other's recreational lives and balk.

When I first logged into Second Life, my initial reactions were those of delight -- "Oh cool, look what I can do!" -- and curiosity -- "How can I do this? What happens if I go here?" But meanwhile, the majority of my friends who have checked it out have reacted with "This is stressful" and "I feel stupid and weird." Even my younger brother -- a Sims fan who also worships his PS3 at age 30 -- "doesn't get it" and thinks "it's for losers."

My friend gave Second Life a whopping 15 minutes before she returned to doggedly plugging along in pursuit of her ideal reality, which boils down to some resemblance of a social life and a husband. If I don't go out with her, she goes out alone. Although I want fun and a husband too, right now I'd rather stay home in flannel pajamas than get prettied up and go out and hunt for them. I'm tired. At the moment my job is kicking my cow tail.

But notice how I described my very determined, no-nonsense, "Second Life is bizarre" friend in this blog -- I made her sound as dysfunctional, lonely and unappealing as possible. Did I subconsciously just do that to make myself feel better? Flip the scenarios around so giving it your all in real life is annoying and weird? She kind of is annoying and weird though. SHE IS! Maybe I'd rather be alone on my laptop in a fantasy world than plummet to that depth of desperation in the real one. Maybe WE ALL need help.

Does the fact that I'd rather hang out in Second Life these days mean that I'm lazy, scared, unmotivated, introverted, depressed, unable to function in normal society and/or a geek? Or does the fact that I take to a virtual world like a duck takes to water mean that I'm more open-minded, technologically advanced, forward-thinking, imaginative, a better communicator, a curious explorer and/or a creator by nature? Am I embracing a boundless and futuristic concept or am I hiding from the real world and its challenges? While I'd like to think it's the former, sometimes I worry that it's the latter. Truthfully it's probably a little bit of both.

I guess the bigger question is do I care?

Usually I don't, but occasionally when I witness such a visceral unpleasant "what the hell is this" reaction to the concept of Second Life, I worry that maybe I'm the one who's not normal.

Then I wander off to camp for cow outfits.


Krissy Muggleston said...

I wear the terms 'introverted' and 'geek' proudly. My friends just asked me yesterday about a GNO: "Do we want to go out this weekend or next." I said "Next. And btw, you don't ask an introvert that question. It's always next." :)

Krissy Muggleston said...

Also - It's a good point you make about which people embrace SL. I think all my fashionista friends would really LOVE it. But the truth is, most of them would react just like your friend did.

Alicia Chenaux said...

One of my guy friends was going to sign up for SL [which I didn't really want him to do] because he was bored and he knows how much I love DJing & he wanted to do it too. But just picking out a name stumped him. No, seriously. Picking out a NAME.

I think it takes a certain kind of person to fall in love with a virtual world, just like it takes a certain kind of person to love going to bars, to love sports, to love knitting, etc. It doesn't make us any stranger to love hanging out in world with fun people who make us laugh than it is to love to go outside and run in a circle, or sit pulling a thread in and out of a piece of fabric for hours, or buying expensive stamps and pasting them into a book.

Some people barely have a first life. Those of us who embrace SL are lucky enough to have two.

Chestnut Rau said...

I have to agree with Krissy and I would add I am not really sure introverted belongs with unmotivated and depressed. Some people are energized when they are around lots of others. People like me find large groups of people draining.

My pet theory is that virtual worlds are tailor made for introverts. We can be social but when people get too be too taxing we can tune out a little.

I link to an article from Atlantic Monthly in my SL profile because when I saw it in my friend Salome's profile I had a light bulb moment. Oh hey! I am not depressed or unable to function in normal society! I am an introvert in a world of extroverts. I really do think a lot of people in SL are introverted and for whatever reason we flourish when we can be social on our own terms.

Here is the article in case you are interested.

Anonymous said...

Trying to be normal is sooooo 1994. What is normal, anyway? Those people addicted to twitter? The ones that are depressed that they can't escape into Pandora? Folks who spend all their waking hours on X-Box? People who sit for hours on barstools getting hammered so they earn the "liquid confidence" enough to say Hi to that cute girl sitting a few stools down?

People don't get SL, so they judge. Simple. I think a big part of that is the open-ended nature, which requires at base level, a bit of creativity (and curiousity). And people are afraid of their creativity. More honestly, they are afraid of their lack of creativity. They fear being embarrased so they go right into the "it's stupid anyway!" defense mechanism.

Also, personally, I think the name Second Life has been somewhat of a PR nightmare. It carries a certain weight, and strong connotations. I realize intentions were good, like when you name your child a clever name but later it turns into the source of playground-nightmare taunting and teasing.

"Second" (to any American at least) means loser. Second place is not first place. Inherently it indicates that something is "wrong" or a "replacement" or "less than", otherwise wouldn't it be first? Honestly, I see so many discussions about first life vs second life that would not even exist whatsoever if our virtual world was simply named a different name. The name Second Life gives an inherent desire to focus on the feeling that it's somehow a replacement for Atomic Life. But it isn't, not anymore than any other technological past time that we have available to us in this modern day and age.

My boyfriend plays WOW (more than I "play" SL) and it's amazing how similar some of the basic tenets of them both are. I know WOW is more than this, but when you boil it down in WOW he mostly 1. does things to collect stuff 2. is social with his guild/friends. In fact in their guild they all have exchanged their RL phone numbers and a bunch of them (but not my boyfriend) met in person this past summer.

10 years ago it was a joke to say you met and married someone you met online. Nowadays? Quite common. The very nature of our social ability is opening up. I recently was in a sandbox in SL and there was a wide-eyed newbie there. She asked the guy building next to me where he was from. Paris, he replied. I imagine if I could have seen her in RL she would have been slack-jawed...her SL reaction was along the lines of ZOMG WOW THAT IS SOOOOO COOL!!!!! Because, honestly, how often do you get to meet someone from Paris without leaving your house?? Well, in SL, it's possible all the time (of course it helps if they speak English or you French LOL). I have friends from all over the world now. And at this point in my SL, that seems pretty normal! I certainly didn't freak out like that newbie over the fact that guy was in Paris. But SL opens the doors to the world. Literally.

Ok, wow. This is a long response. Cutting myself off now!!

Emerald Wynn said...

Ah ha, Chestnut. I like that article. It describes me to a T . . . at this stage in my life. But there was a time when I was pretty extroverted: For instance, I couldn't imagine pledging a sorority right now like I did in college, and it's not just an "I'm old and I have no energy" thing. It would just make me feel drained, as would sharing an apartment with three other girls, which I also did in my 20s.

I wonder if it's possible to switch back and forth without being diagnosed as mentally ill.

And I get the perspective of SL as hobby or recreational activity. But I think because SL can be such a personal experience and seems so impossible for some people to relate to, maybe that's why other people don't. And so they put it in the category of "weird." And then I take it kind of personally. I don't wanna be pushing 40 and weird. But I don't wanna be boring normal either.

LOL, I had a friend who came to a screeching halt at the daunting task of choosing an SL name too. It was enough to send her running away in terror.

And Krissy, yeah when I think of all the time some of my friends spend on Polyvore, they're totally totally missing out on some fun here.

Emerald Wynn said...

And yeah, QK. What you said!

The name does make it easy for some people to mock. Like my younger brother always goes, "Hey, how's your second life?" and dies laughing. And then I say, "Hey, how's your Final Fantasy 8 or whatever? Touche, bitch!"

Uh, so yeah, then having to defend it takes me to a whole juvenile level.

I don't know why I started thinking about it today except maybe because my clingy friend is bugging the hell out of me with a ton of texts and I feel obligated to go out with her tonight when I really just want to STAY HOME. :(

I wish she would get a hobby.

Emerald Wynn said...

P.S. Chestnut, I sent that article link to my mom. Maybe she'll read it and stop acting so damn concerned about me. THANK YOU.

Chestnut Rau said...

Sweetie I am so glad the article resonated for you.

FWIW I was as outgoing as anyone when I was younger *but* when I think back on it now I think my inner introvert was lurking as long as I can remember.

I am certain we change as we grow (I refuse to say get older) and thank god for that.

Chalice Carling said...

And before I read that article I thought I was an extrovert coming in-world for some peace and quiet. Now I realize I'm only an extrovert when it suits me and deep, deep down, RL people tire me too. A revelation...YAY.

Brilliantly written Em and it is definitely food for thought. If I had a choice to go out with your friend trawling the bars for a new 'friend' or being all warm and cozy playing with my mates in SL, there would be no choice. On the other hand, if I had a friend who was wonderful and considerate and wanted to go out to a restaurant for a lovely night of food, wine, chat and coffee or sitting at home playing in SL, I'd rather go out for dinner.

Plus, like you, I work in a stressful environment often putting in long hours. These days I'm kinder to my body and soul. I try to take the more pleasurable route and if that includes having fun in SL, so be it.

I've really enjoyed reading the comments from the other ladies. So insightful and intelligent and that just consolidates that I'm in great company in SL.

Those babies scare the pants off me btw.

ARI said...

My mom is 91. I showed her SL a long time ago (well, mostly the building part...), and she is absolutely fascinated by it. She comes over three time a year and I always get 'show me what you've been building'... and then we have to go exploring (she liked Versailles, was enchanted by the Drowsy sim, and impressed by the tall ships at Black Spot harbour). She also LOVES the clothes (no, don't get pink, the blue would be better with your hair).

I've 'introduced' her to a couple of friends, and she thought that was great too.

I am rather glad she doesn't have a computer.

See, she 'gets' it, including the 'why' (OK not *all* of it, ahem).

My husband? Soon after I started, I got him to download it. He didn't get it AT. ALL. Still doesn't.

On the good side, I think, it means that I'm never going to slide into (total) addition because I like my RL. Mostly. And I do actually manage to keep SL as 'me time' without neglecting RL... mostly.

And yet... I have huge difficulty actually telling people what my hobby is. Because I'm sure they wouldn't get it.

Final comment: my mom was (eeeek) telling a relative that I 'did building in a virtual world', and they said 'but it's horrible and dangerous' (without ever having seen it). She apparently told him that it was absolutely wonderful.

I'm proud of her for that, but mortified she's told him. What does that say about it all?

Emerald Wynn said...

See that's what's interesting about it. I have this fear that people at my work will find out about it, which is ridiculous. I AM at the point of just breaking down and, if it comes up, just saying, "Yeah, I'm an online gamer geek. I've been loving video games since Pong on Atari." People will understand that, at least. Because the people who think it's strange pretty much think it's some kind of online gaming thing anyway.

Shoot, now I'm in the mood to play Zyngo. :D

Ari, hugs, your blog is in my reader. It looks like you guys have such a wonderful time over on beautiful Vent du Sud!

SophHarlow said...

Everyone covered the friend part of this blog...but I have to come in here and defend myself.

I do not RP the family thing!

He was a

You are so lucky I love you Em...#@@####!!!!!

Emerald Wynn said...

Whatever -- It's your loooooooooooove child! Sprung from the joyous embrace of fashion and hair. But yeah, I like it when the MAN delivers the baby.

And it kinda looks like that Maddox kid, minus the faux-hawk. You and Truth are the Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt of Second Life.

Soph, you look so damn maternal in that pic.

(haw haw!)

Chalice Carling said...

Oooo nearly forgot but the last couple of comments reminded me. What is wrong with your 200 $L baby Em? It looks like the top of it's head is missing. I'm just wondering if you have to pay more for the crown?

Your baby looks so, umm, so, special. I'll knit you a bonnet.

cristina said...

i completely agree with krissy and chestnut, i also embrace my introversion and i feel it is a positive part of who i am. i attach so many qualities to my personality type. i believe the reason sl is so attractive to an introvert is because you can be sociable but not in the same sense of rl. in rl you are physically surrounded by people and that is what is draining. you can come in sl and socialize but if you want to be alone, the click of a mouse button is all that is needed to get away and relax. i love sl!

Emerald Wynn said...

Cristina, exactly!

And Chalice - hahahaha - yes, that is the most disturbing baby. I'm not gonna publically slam the poor girl who owns the store by name, but her babies, skins, hair, clothes, etc. are just unbelievably atrocious and jaw-droppingly overpriced.

She usually charges $2K for those babies (rolls on floor laughing) but marked a few down to 200L. She used to spam the Vain group about it to no end before they cracked down.

And yeah, um, it's basically a bunch of wood prims with a dress on and a Photoshopped baby's face plastered on it. So the top of the head, that's just the beauty of the wood-texture prim. LOLOLOLOLOL

Fricker Fraker said...

I just want to know who's the hot chick in the middle!

and to leave some hugs for Em! :)

Casandra Shilova said...

Ali, I love this "Some people barely have a first life. Those of us who embrace SL are lucky enough to have two."

I just spent my day (11 hours) with about 90 people and had a blast. I can only go to a few events like this a year now and SL is a great social outlet for me.

I hadn't thought about Kellee's analysis that "second" life is part of the problem with how it is received. bingo. If they had named it Virtual Life....