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!
PlantPets Main Store – If you too like PlantPets, let me know so I can give you my seeds when I get them
AND ANOTHER UPDATE: OOPS I probably should be reading New World Notes more often. More on LL's marketing approach HERE.
FOR MORE INFO
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.