When I started to mull over the idea of creating this blog, it took me a while to come to grips from what I wanted from it…..but I knew I wanted to be able to share bits of both my physical and virtual experiences. In a way, it bridges the gap between the two and may help shed some light on how the two existences merge and often.
I was first introduced to Second Life many years ago by a friend who is no longer a friend but still very cherished for who they were at that stage of my life. I had met them online through a war game and she insisted I should check it out. So, I did.
I hated it at first, I won’t lie. The first hour I was online I couldn’t figure out how to get voice to work and I was laughed at- though jokingly in manner- by the friends of this friend as I sort of jerked around awkwardly, learning the controls. I tried it a few more times and sort of left it alone.
Once I got a newer laptop I gave it another shot. I was able to customize my avatar in a way that made sense to me, and I learned how to make it that I didn’t scream “noob”. Eventually I got the hang of things and began my long journey in this virtual space. I’ve made friends, lost friends, unleashed new creative interests and even started a business that sometimes put food on my table and paid a bill here and there. My musical tastes diversified incredibly and I learned I loved to build things.
Years later, I have the same cringe a lot of us do when I think of my early days on the platform. But now I have some incredible people in my virtual life that easily bled offline, and I am grateful for that. I inherited a sister in Second Life whose wedding I proudly get to be part of in October. I have family and friends that I would love to see offline when the opportunity arises. I have loved, I have lost, and I have mourned.
When I try to explain Second Life to someone who has never logged in, it’s always quite difficult to summarize. When you discuss virtual reality, it’s still a mystifying thing for those who aren’t familiar. It’s also something that people assume is very gamified, when it’s really not in this case. We’re all humans behind the avatars, we have our own personalities, and we all feel. A game is something that does offer a similar level of escapism for some, but Second Life enables you to engage with real people all over the world. We’re not NPC’s here.
The experience is often dependent on the person and what they hope to get out of it. In my case, I enjoyed the creative liberties. Although it still makes me rage, I was able to learn the basics of 3D modeling while in Second Life and still try to master that skill in my free time. I also branched out and explored working with digital imagery in an artistic fashion, which is something I enjoy quite a good deal. My biggest (and favorite) accomplishment was the establishment of the Virtual Black History Museum, which has been my ultimate passion project.
So what is Second Life to me? It’s somewhere where I can be me, but amplified. I can explore, I can create, I can forge new bonds with amazing people I would have missed out on otherwise. I’ve learned a lot about myself there and what makes me tick and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
I’m never a fan of people who write about Second Life with little actual experience to draw from, and I’m aware it has this reputation for being a place full of sex and weirdness. There’s so much more depth to it than I can fit into a single post, but I am hoping this blog will allow me to share a lot more of that.
So, bear with me. There’s a learning curve and a lot to refine, but I’m happy to be here. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.