Tuesday, June 12, 2012

That awkward moment when a RL person finds your SL blog

Unladylike! Don't look up my dress!

That pic really doesn't have anything to do with this blog post. I've just gotten really into PlantPets recently, particularly since they cost absolutely nothing to maintain (just click to water them!), they're temp-rez so they're only about three to five prims each, they pop out transferrable plant babies (seeds) about every two months, they've got that Christmas-morning anticipation with the possibility of birthing rare or elite seeds . . . and I suck at keeping plants alive in RL. See! Anything is possible in SL — even a green thumb!

So speaking of RL and foliage, let me preface this part by saying there's no underlying message here or a cry for help or anything like that. It just so happened that a couple of weeks ago I was surfing some silly Website like Buzzfeed and I started clicking on various links. One click led to another – you know how it goes – and suddenly I was reading (and then watching the accompanying documentary) this article on the Suicide Forest of Japan, or the Aokigahara Forest, as it's formally known.

It's estimated that more than 100 people a year commit suicide in the Aokigahara Forest. The topic morbidly fascinated me. I Googled it and found a well-written blog post by a guy who went there with his friends and documented the trip with photos and videos. Although it was a great read and merits a link, I'm not going to link to it because I left a very personal comment there in response to someone else who had commented that she couldn't imagine why so many people went to that forest to kill themselves.

I meant to post the comment anonymously, but to my horror it posted as Emerald Wynn, whose Gravatar links to this blog. I thought about deleting the comment, but then I shrugged and thought, "What the hell?" My comment probably came across as slightly mental anyway, so it'd probably be no surprise to anyone who clicked it and found a blog written in the voice of a pixelated person, talking about a pixelated world like some kind of wacko with a split personality.

I have since gotten some emails from people who read that comment. Since they did indeed click through to this blog and got the Emerald Wynn email address here, a few have asked questions about Second Life. As with most people, they weren't familiar with it, didn't understand it and wanted to know what the deal was and why I was writing about it – for four years, nonetheless.

I'm not gonna lie: It was kind of embarrassing and exhausting explaining it repeatedly. And speaking as a PR professional, I kind of wanted to shake Linden Lab a little. If we look at the popularity of anything from Facebook, which could possibly be considered the ultimate success story in social networking, to Pinterest, it's obvious that social networks in their various forms are appealing to an increasingly broadening demographic at a rapid pace.

So I don't understand why Linden Lab isn't highlighting a huge aspect of Second Life, which is a creative, three-dimensional, extremely sensory platform for social networking, or better yet, exchanging ideas. Frankly, that's the way I try to normalize it when I try to explain it to people. You like chatting with your friends? How 'bout doing it in an amazing, artistic sim with avatars that have infinite possibilities for customization. Want to share your vision for fashion, architecture, interior design, landscaping? Forget your Pinterest boards – do it here. It's way more fun. There's something about the way Linden Lab is positioning Second Life – or not positioning it – and where they're positioning it that just doesn't seem to be working. Why am I still and frequently trying to explain this place to people?

In this age where everyone's communicating and expressing themselves primarily through technology – to the point where some of our interpersonal skills are even suffering – you would think Second Life of all places would be thriving. And who knows – I haven't checked recently, but maybe the numbers show it IS thriving. (UPDATE: OOPS I probably should be reading New World Notes more often. Click HERE for Hamlet's thoughts on this topic and some stats.)

Yet I still find myself explaining it, justifying it and often feeling embarrassed about being a part of it. You know how many of my RL friends know I'm an SL resident? One. And she's always "concerned" about it. In her mind, it's akin to World of Warcraft, and "those people are weird gamers who never leave their basements." And you know how many of my RL 300+ Facebook friends are even aware of Second Life? Five . . . and I met those five people in Second Life.

Linden Lab, your PR/marketing tactics are fail right now. And I say that with love. I dream of the day when my AV can come out of the closet to mass acceptance. Somehow I doubt it's ever going to happen.

Hey, check out my octopus!

I got it at Photon's Castle, home of all things awesome.

PlantPets Main Store – If you too like PlantPets, let me know so I can give you my seeds when I get them
Photon's Castle

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: OOPS I probably should be reading New World Notes more often. More on LL's marketing approach HERE.

The Suicide Forest of Japan - By the way, I checked and we don't have an SL version of Aokigahara Forest, or if we do, I couldn't find it in Search. I guess that's a good thing? Although it IS considered one of the most haunted locations in Japan, so it might make for a cool haunted SL destination. Somebody get on it!
PlantPets Website – Includes a user guide, FAQ and species catalog if you want to browse the available plants.


Carrie Lexington said...

That's happened to me before. I commented on my friends mommy blog with my SL Gravatar and she was like wtf and who are you? Awkward!

I know what you mean and I've blogged before about my own trouble with fessing up about my SL blog with people outside of my family. My family knows, but they're family so to me that doesn't count.

I think you have a valid point about LL and marketing SL. I never really thought of it that way.

Paypabak said...

So sad but true, Em. LL has even abused some of their best evangelists in the not-for-profit community by dropping the discount. It goes on and on ... I like our little ghetto.

Khloe Nitely said...

Oh boy, it's amazing how true this can be. I've spent a lot of time trying to exlain what SL is and why I feel the need to be in it. For the most part my friends and family do nothing more than check their emails and really dont get a virtual world. It's an awkward conversation to be having when you can literally see people planting you in the "weirdo" folder of their lives. Completely correct about LL needing a better marketing setup. Even if folks don't take advantage of it I feel MANY more people should be at least aware. oye

Tashi Core said...

That octopus is up for sale now? Really? :D I was at Photon months ago but didn't see it among the various sale items at the castle.

Deoridhe said...

Yeah, I was talking to someone once and she mentioned "those weird online tings," and I just... kept my mouth shut! Most of my actual friends and family have at least seen my blog, though.

Ulaa Coronet said...

ROFL Emm... I emailed my son's teacher and somehow it wound up using my SL name and she was like ummmm ... it was pretty awkward. She didn't ask and frankly not sure I could have explained it to her.

Heidi H. said...

Interesting in a morbid, sad way. A last attempt at being part of something, at not being alone, on your way out. Thanks for sharing this find, Em.

Epione Serendipity said...

*laughs* I think I would die if someone in my RL found my Sl blog. Yeah, I've commented on rl blogs too signed in as Epione but I always catch it in time. I've told a couple rl friends about SL and it's always a very awkward experience because they never get it (and I probably don't explain it very well). Love the octopus!

Emerald Wynn said...

Tashi: I was there a few weeks ago and it was right as you walk in the front door (not the landing point) with a big sign that said "NEW!" - so maybe she just put it up for sale recently. I wanted to buy the noob centaur, but she said the sculpt was custom-made and she couldn't sell one. So I had to settle for the octopus.

Ulaa: I accidentally sent my former BOSS an email from the Emerald Wynn account when I was first figuring out how to use my Droid. I had to sit in a meeting at work while she asked, "Does anyone know an Emerald Wynn??" and laugh with the rest of them at the name and pray to God the panic wasn't showing on my face.

Epione: YES and sometimes I feel like we need a code word for it. LOL