Merging Reality with Fantasy

Second liOkay… I’ve wrote on here about my absence being related to an addiction to a Virtual Reality world called Second Life.  Many of you have commented about running in terror (or something close to it) from such a potentially life-sucking vortex, and maybe I can’t disagree with you on that… lol.  If you’re on susceptible to addictions then you’d probably do well to get the crucifix and holy water to spray in the general direction of anything that puts the words “Second” and “Life” in the same sentence.

But….  Why is it so addictive?  Why do I get a panicked feeling sitting in front of the computer and NOT have Second Life going?  Why am I seriously considering plunking down hard cash for a new computer so I can fully enjoy the effects and not laaaaaaaag to the outer realms of darkness?  LOL… Why do I actually put real money … US dollars… into my PayPal account so I can buy Lindens, the currency of Second Life?  I want to take this non-book related blog post to tell you (and to sort it out myself, for that matter).

Firstly, in the real world I’m a single mom of three wonderful girls.  Sam, 15, is a sophomore in high school and is starting to talk about moving out.  As her mother, of course I see all the things with her that make me worry about her abilities to survive on her own.  Firstly, gack! are there very many 15-year-olds that behave and function in a way that inspire parental confidence in their abilities to be responsible adults?  It’s a very strange time with her.  The other night she said she couldn’t wait until she’s 18 so she won’t have a bedtime… omg… I’ll never sleep (of course, thanks to Second Life, I don’t sleep now).  Secondly, she has a mental illness, and must take her medication or she hears voices and becomes severely paranoid.  Problem is, she hates taking her pills.  Who’s going to make sure she takes them if she lives alone?  Who will make sure she showers?  Who’s going to make sure she’s eating healthy, and not just spooning heaps of sugar on everything? Oh my, the thoughts and worries I have for my bunny (her nickname from the time she was 6 weeks old and I put a little knit hat with a funny little frill around her face.  I took one look at her and said she was my little snow bunny, and bunny stuck.  Tigger her other nickname because, as she has ADHD, she is very bouncy-bouncy-flouncy ;-) )

Then there is Gwen… my sweet, loving, at times mischievous, and mildly mentally handicapped.  At fourteen and in the eighth grade she is reading at about a second to third grade level.  Her math is higher; she’s working at a fifth grade level.  Socially, she’s disadvantaged, not understanding the nuances of social play.  She takes people at their word and falls for the cruel tricks middle-schoolers play on one another.  Again, how can I expect her to function as an adult?  To pay her bills and remember to put the milk away? She has such lofty dreams of being a jockey, a vet assistant, having a farm and horse (oh, how she loves horses!).  How can I tell her these things will more than likely not be possible for her?  I don’t, and I hope I’m not being cruel in the long run, because the world is cruel enough as it is and it will tell her she can’t have these things.  What she needs is a cheerleader, and I do my best to be that for her. 

What compounds Gwen’s problems is that, while her sisters have fathers who are very involved in their lives, she does not.  If she sees  her dad four times in the year she’s lucky, and that breaks my heart, as well as her sisters’,  for her loss.  She will look for that love in someone, anyone, who shows her the slightest attention.  What heartaches lie ahead for her?

Then there’s Maggie, whom you’ve met in her guest reviews.  Pretty, extroverted, and a normalmentally, intellectually and physically sound child.  She’s a treasure (not that the other two aren’t) because she’s easy.  With her I can hope for a successful future.  She wants to be a doctor and go to Vietnam to help with those less fortunate.  She’s a girl’s girl, bringing home all the stories of the day, from who had to pull a stick to updates on the frenemy sagas.  In every sense of the word, a normal nine-year-old.  And I feel miserably guilty for thinking and feeling this way, as if I’m writing off the other two.

And in all this, I am a single parent who has not dated in 10 years, and have not been romantically involved in five years (sorry if that is TMI, but it all goes toward the reasons Second Life is such a drug).  Kids, house, lawn, garden, dog, cats… bills… doctors appointments… school meetings… responsibilities heaped on responsibilities… being a grown up is hard.

Now, imagine a place where all that goes away.  Where I’m free.  Where I can fly.  Where I can where all the clothes that I can’t in real life because I’m not a size 2 and I’m a mother of daughters who are watching me for the path to take in their lives.  I can be a flirt.  I can have tons of friends.  I’m a vampire.  I can play sound clips from movies and act them out.  I don’t have to work.  I don’t have bills to pay.  It’ all fun and no responsibilities.  All the things in the real world can be found there, and whatever you can imagine and more.  I can live  in my favorite TV show, in fact my apartment is set in the UK cult classic show “The Prisoner”… which I did NOT know until after I had rented my place.  All my neighbors are running around capturing each other and playing spy games.  Since I’ve never seen the show, I’ve not joined in.  I can make a date at a romantic waterfall on a tropical island.  How can you NOT become seriously sucked into this virtual world?

Then throw into all that the people I’ve made friends with there… I’ve got to share a couple of them with you:

An artist and videographer (I hope that’s what it’s called) who’s entered the following cool video in a festival in Germany.

For No One

And SoliGoth, an artist for hire trying to feed his cats and get a better computer (a common SL theme for reasons discussed above). His cafepress store has some unique items for your perusing (and purchasing) enjoyment. My particular favorites are Mark’s Invisible Shirt and the Short Bus Bag (okay, I have a politically incorrect sense of humor…). Visit his store. Make a purchase. Feed his cats ;-)

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8 Responses

  1. Whew – WHAT A POST! Seriously, have you ever thought about writing a book?

    I’ve never been on Second Life, but I know some people who love it. I don’t really think it’s weird, especially considering it’s just another form of escapism – isn’t that why a lot of us read?

  2. lol… Swapna, I actually am working on writing two books at the moment. Writing them is the easy part. Finishing them and getting them published them is the hard part. ;-)

    Yes, reading is definately a form of escapism. There’s no misery or sadness that can’t be escaped from, even if only for a while, in a good book. People who can’t (or don’t) read are the most imprisoned people of all. :-(

  3. I am glad you found Second Life…I love it too!! I’ve been addicted for 2 yrs, but lately have not been in as much. My favorite thing is to go dancing at a friend of mine’s rooftop club that has different theme weeks!!! There is so much to see in Second Life, so many area you’ve seen..but so many more you haven’t even touched!! I have a house on the beach and get to see the sunset ever night!! I’ve not heard of the area you say you live it..but it would be fun to find it!!! I’m Allison Harlow in SL…let me know who you are and if we catch each other in world…we can say hi!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. I was touched by your post. I think I had heard the name of Second LIfe but had no idea what it actually was, but now I can see that I want to check it out. I have my personal issues that is makes my life very lonely at times. There are times when I would love to escape my life and go somewhere that I can find fun and new friends. I can so understand why you play and perhaps one day I can find you there. :D

  5. Ah me! I definitely shouldn’t get on SL: I would stop having a real life!! (I came close enough to that playing Sims 2…) By the by, you REALLY should check out The Prisoner. It’s very enigmatic – and available on Netflix, if you have that service!

  6. I have a friend whose daughter sounds like a combination of your oldest two, and just started college this year. Her mom is ecstatic (College!!) and scared to death (College???) and hopeful (College!) and worried (College…). So far, she’s doing great. She calls her mom at least twice a day…every time she has to make a decision.

  7. Hey! You haven’t posted in forever! Get off SL and post! That’s what I say! (Not that I have any room to talk, not posting on my own blogs from like May to October…)

  8. Thank you for your website :-)
    I made on photoshop backgrounds for myspace or youtube and ect..
    my backgrounds:http://tinyurl.com/5cy5cq
    take care and thank you again!

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