Happy 2019

As the sun sets on 2018 I want to say happy new year from me! 2018 had its ups and downs but let’s not forget that the news only tell us the bad things that happen. Every day people do wonderful things. Let’s look for the good in each other. Sometimes in the little things, the details, it is out there.

In Second Life I have met some amazing people who have changed my life (both my lives) forever, and – in its various definitions – I love you all. Thank you for all you have done for me. I wish you all the best for 2019. Let’s be positive – we can do this! X

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Living Two Lives

It’s 2:30am on 30 December. I am lying awake with insomnia and I keep writing tweets then not tweeting them.

Writing them… because it’s therapeutic I guess. I’m feeling a bit frustrated right now and it helps to write things down.

And not tweeting them… because I don’t want to bore my Twitter friends with negative sounding tweets. I wanted my account to be mostly about Second Life, but my problem is I’m anxious because real life stuff is keeping me away from SL.

So I’m writing this in the notes app on my phone and maybe I’ll post it to my blog later. Not because I want sympathy but because, well it feels good to share and maybe there are other people in the same boat or who have been here before.

I don’t want to go into too much detail because it’s not relevant but I had a pretty good day for the most part but let’s just say there is some tension at home which turns to bickering or occasionally full blown arguing. And at the centre of our world is our little boy who is six and will always come first.

Second Life is my escape place from all this, a bit of a guilty pleasure. Holidays are actually a bit of a nightmare for me in this regard. Both my son and husband are at home all day which I should be happy about (and am mostly) but there is no me-time, which I get when they’re at school and work.

Writing this now I sound like a privileged so and so. But the fact is that rightly or wrongly I love my escapism and the life I am carving out in SL. It fulfils some things that RL is not giving me.

I work but during the week if I get my work done early some days I can buy myself maybe 1-2 hours to spend in SL before I have to get my boy from his after school club. And my partner usually goes to bed early due to his early starts, so most evenings I can spend an hour online after he goes to bed. Or at least one of the two. It is a juggling act but I find some time most days.

But not in the holidays. I grabbed 10 minutes this morning and literally only 5 minutes this evening just before being asked if I was coming to bed. I logged out and came to bed to avoid another argument.

I often look at my Second Life account page on my phone to see who is online. I don’t know why I do this when I know I can’t come on but I do. I want to melt away and go have fun with my friends in the fantasy world that is SL. At one point it showed 24 of my friends were on. Usually outside of holiday times there are more typically about 6 friends on (I have 56 in total). So there’s this frustrating feeling of wondering what I am missing out on. Meeting people, exploring places. Keeping friendships alive by visiting them and chatting. Strengthening bonds. Maybe some intimacy, or dancing at some cool parties, all denied.

And a day in SL feels like a long time. A lot can happen in a week. I hate being away too long.

Sometimes I worry that my life is just not set up for me to have a meaningful Second Life too. And that me trying to do both is putting a strain on both that’s just not worth it. I would say half of the time SL gives me joy and half of the time I’m anxious because I’m missing out.

How do other people who can only spend about 3-4 hours a week in Second Life cope? Do you have friends there? Do you ever SEE them?

Do I need to win the lottery or retire to make this work? How do other people make it work for them?

I suppose it follows that people who can spend huge uninterrupted chunks of time in Second Life must have less going on in their real lives, so perhaps I should be careful what I wish for. The grass is, after all, always greener on the other side.

Happy Xmas from Olivia

Xmas 2018

Hi. I just wanted to write a little note to say Happy Christmas to all my Second Life friends, Twitter friends and anyone else who reads my blog for whatever reason it is that compels you 🙂

Whatever you are doing… whether it is with family, or friends or alone, or even if you are doing nothing I hope you have a lovely day.

And to all my Second Life friends: thank you for being there, and for all the fun and craziness and love and chats and cuddles we have had together. There would literally be no point if it wasn’t for you. I’m only six months old but it feels like years. In a good way!

Xmas 2018

As you no doubt noticed this blog post includes some pictures of me wearing a cute reindeer outfit complete with a pair of antlers. This is my last minute, waaaay overdue attempt at taking some Xmas piccies! I grabbed the outfit from Pink Pearl Designs (thanks Abby) on the Marketplace and headed over to the Second Pride Winter Event sim, which is very pretty and snow-covered.

Have fun, don’t eat too many mince pies, and I’ll see you soon.

Special mentions: Abby, Alice, Boda, Candy, Chris, Ivana, Kendra, Rylan, Sheree, Silver, Sky ❤

Crappy Monday

Second Life is my happy place. I can leave my troubles behind and just enjoy the fantasy world I am making and discovering there. Some days it feels like it is the only place where I feel free. The only place where I can really connect with people. The only place where I really feel loved.

But on stressful days usually the one thing I want is more time in SL, but I don’t always have enough freedom in RL to fit it in. Or when I do I might get rudely jerked back to reality, which leaves me more stressed than if I hadn’t bothered in the first place.

Then when I do come on I start to bring my RL problems with me. Which spoils it for my SL friends who want that same carefree fun escapism that I want from it. I myself said it has to be about fun. I’m a hypocrite.

Today two hours into the morning today I found myself in tears, and having blocked someone. Probably an overreaction, in hindsight. I bet that made them feel really shitty. I know I would hate it. I probably wouldn’t have done it if I’d been in a good place personally. I care too much about what other people think.

Is this working for me? If I’m having a bad day like today maybe I should stay back here in reality and suck it up. Running away from that just makes it worse, or brings old grumpy pants into the fantasy world, which nobody wants. RL first everyone says. Yep I know.

And then there’s the messed up truth that events in SL itself feed back into how I am feeling. I am probably expecting too much.

I probably need some time off. Well, maybe a good night’s sleep will fix half of it. But staying away is hard, especially with social media giving a window into it all – the people you love having fun in your absence.

I’ll have a think once I have slept. Hopefully in the morning I will just feel a bit embarrassed on re-reading this, delete the blog post and snap back into my usual self.

Roleplay and Emotions in Second Life

Relaxing at Hidden Desires

Since I came back to Second Life (umm… *checks*) 141 days ago I have fallen in love with it. Not its sometimes clunky graphics or (at times) embarrassing animations (we’ve all clicked the wrong menu option right?) it is the people and their creativity of course. Creativity both in terms of the places that they build and also their interesting and beautiful avatars. Also there are some cuuute tiny ones!

Those technical limitations (although it is improving lots) can easily be overcome with a little imagination. And honestly… some of the sims I have discovered recently are so beautiful and immersive there aren’t really any gaps to fill.

To be honest I am a little bit lost, which is a big part of the reason I come here. I am an introvert, and a bit geeky, and sometimes find it hard to connect with other people in the physical world. I have a tight circle of RL friends (sadly not all local any more), and my partner and my little boy, and people I know in my running club. But outside that the social circles in my town and linked to the local school feel very opaque or at best shallow. Small talk at parties is my idea of hell. I guess this is nothing unique to people like me, but I am left wanting a lot more out of life.

I crave warm emotional connections with people (I assume most people do!) and in SL I have been able to make lots of those. I have made some mistakes along the way (sorry) but even with its ups and downs SL is my happy place.

But the whole business of emotions in Second Life can be confusing.

For a start… and this is more of a newbie thing but… in a world of avatars everyone who puts in a bit of effort can be beautiful in their own unique way. And it is hard not to be drawn in by that beauty. To be fair to ourselves this is just our stupid evolved brains reacting instinctively to a pretty face or a ‘perfect’ figure. Wow, they are beautiful, I’m really attracted to them”. And this initial reaction combined with the fact that I also made myself as pretty as possible means the chances are pretty good that they will feel the same way. It’s not hard to find some action if you want it. But…

Walking around as a kind of supermodel-figure version of myself has been a very interesting experience. Namely how it feels to get a lot more attention from men. Certainly, like in RL, it is not all welcome but I have met some lovely people (across the spectrum of genders) who were initially drawn to my avatar I suppose. It is a real enabler in many ways, though I do have to deal with a lot of impolite (and worse) pests. You learn to be tough.

I have started to be a lot more selective. My friend Alice laughed at me the other day when I made that claim. But I am far more interested in relationships (of all sorts) than in the sex itself (though virtual sex can be wonderful between two partners who let each other in emotionally). I would much rather do that once a fortnight with someone I love than every day with all the contacts who ask. Besides, it gets boring, and there are lots of other things I want to do with my time.

The other thing I want to say about avatars is that the more personalised ones do give you a glimpse of the person behind them. You can see that they are creative and have put some effort in. I suppose a simpler way of putting it is that I’m turned off by default ‘Ken Doll’ type avatars that all look alike.

And of course you can have the most beautiful avatar and still be an arsehole. A bit of charm goes a long way.

So on to the other confusing thing, which is roleplay. There is a big mix of how people define and handle this, how they present themselves and how consistent they are. From my experience the main categories are:

  • People who are open about who they are in RL, and the fact that they are RPing as a different character in SL
  • People who play themselves and talk about RL and SL interchangeably
  • People who play as themselves consistently and keep RL info to a bare minimum or need-to-know
  • People who effectively are their SL character because they never disclose anything about their RL

I play SL as a version of myself or at least *laughs* how I might be if was about 10 years younger, with a supermodel figure and living in a sexually liberated world with very few responsibilities and where actions have far fewer consequences. Oh and you can fly and stuff too.

But I am always* that same me in SL regardless of the setting we are in.

Of course people are free to play in SL as they like but for me it can break the spell when people are too open about real life. I don’t want to know too much detail about who you are in RL. I don’t want to know that earlier we were roleplaying but now we are not. I find the switch jarring and I can no longer be immersed in your SL self.

But where this starts to get confusing is when I get feelings for someone. Is it me having feelings for you or is it ‘pretend me’ having feelings for ‘pretend you’?

Am I just roleplaying as someone who is in love with your character? Or are those my real feelings? Why am I lying awake thinking about you at night? Is it because I am still in character? Or is it because through the medium of our avatars we have had a beautiful meeting of our true hearts and minds?

At its best I prefer to believe it is the latter. We are real people inside, after all.

The thing is… sometimes being SL-me comes more naturally than being RL me. I sometimes feel that I am roleplaying in real life, and when I log into SL I can relax and be ‘myself’ again. I guess this is partly due to some RL problems I have right now, but still, in my mind there is not a clear line between real me and Olivia in SL.

For now, my answer is to remember that it is just a fantasy world. But… to enjoy that world I want to be immersed in it as fully as possible. So I accept that feelings will spill over into everyday life. A bit like if I am reading a good book I will keep thinking about it after I put it down.

My other rule is nothing should get too serious. Fun has to be the priority.

My only hopes and expectations are for outcomes in Second Life itself (I am taken in RL, after all) so hey what could possibly go wrong? Right?

/me belly-laughs so much she ends up choking on her Werther’s Original**

 

 

*This is mostly true apart from the interesting area of RP within the RP… I have recently been introduced to Bloodlines and enjoy playing the role of a human ‘blood doll’ kind of submissive to my vampire friends who I let drink from me freely 😛

** That was a joke I’m not that old. They are nice though.