Monday, September 21, 2009

September Wind in Second Life

Mid-September and fall announced an early arrival with an audible hiss through late summer branches. The weather changed. I sit curled up into a letter C on my not so new couch, listening to the wind do its worst as it sends splatter after splatter of rain against the window panes. New Jersey in the fall. You can actually taste it in the air. When I was little, it tasted like a goodbye and a hello all rolled into one - like an end of summer song. It tasted of back to school clothing, lunches packed neatly into colorful metal boxes, and Halloween candy. Fall. My birthday is in the fall. It was always kind of a double whammy. I'd look forward to my birthday, but with it came school and a goodbye to lazy summer. Shifting on the couch, I reach down and drag an old worn afghan over my legs and close my eyes. Not to sleep. For some reason I can't sleep, though I know I'm tired. Thoughts swirl round in my head, some innocuous, some stinging. The ones that sting carry a "you should have ... (fill in appropriate chore)" with them. When I was little ...i t was just about homework. Now? It's about everything. Now, fall just tastes like goodbye.

Change is what fall is all about. Moving on, we leave pleasant summer memories behind and step into the uncertainty of a September wind. We never really feel secure or safe. There is no safety when you are an adult. If you fall, you have to hold out your own arms and catch yourself. If you also have children, like I do, you have to catch them, too. My house is a safe little nest. It is a shelter against that storm spitting rain against the windows. My house is also a stinging thought. A reminder of how tenuous my hold is and how far down I can fall. This is my family's shelter. Their only shelter. And September's wind is just beyond these walls. My thoughts drift back to my parents. How my mother must have felt hearing the September wind, while shopping for my new school shoes. How my father must have felt hearing the September wind while he balanced the check book. I would like to say that I wish I'd known, so that I could appreciate what they might have felt, but I'm glad I didn't. I'm glad my own children don't. Children should think about running through piles of crisp leaves or sneaking into the Halloween candy stash. They should never know the fear of fall ... of falling.

An excerpt from "September Wind" by Gwen Carillon

A September wind is blowing for many creators in *Second Life*. We work here on the grid while those around us play. We ignore invitations to in world parties, in order to meet deadlines and get product out. We rarely have social lives beyond the IMs our friends send us, asking if we are still alive. Many of us come from a full day of work in the physical world to log in and work the night away in *Second Life*. Others, like me, conduct business full time in *Second Life*. Many of us are single parents, juggling family time with client and customer demands. Fighting to stay alive in this economic climate is difficult enough without dealing with intellectual property theft. Most of us are scared to death of failing our families and losing our incomes. I think what gets to me is the apathy. The seeming lack of concern that others have for theft of our work. I have asked myself why, many times. *Why* don't people see intellectual property theft *as* theft? *Why* does a person that would never rob a bank or a convenience store in the physical world ... someone who wouldn't break into his neighbor's home and steal a painting ... commit theft and fraud here in *Second Life*? The answer is in our conversations every day here in the world of *Second Life*.
"Gotta go. RL calls."
"Yeah, it's a RL thing."
"I don't want this affecting my RL."
"We aren't RL yet. It's a Second Life thing."
"I keep my Second Life and my Real Life separate."
"Lighten up! It's just a game!"
Recognise those statements? I will bet you any amount of money that you have used at least one of those statements in an IM conversation with a friend or acquaintance. The answer is that many residents of *Second Life* do not see their time here as **real**. Many do not see even see other *Second Life* residents as real. It's not *real* if I can turn away from you with a click of an X on the corner of my computer screen. Um.... Hello? Is talking on the phone to someone a real conversation? Is the person on the other end of the phone line not *real* because you can hang up on them? People in the virtual world of *Second Life* are real. I am real and I'm pretty sure you are too. But ... if I say that you are not real, then I don't feel wrong in stealing from you, do I? If I tell myself, "It's just a game", then anything I do within this *game* doesn't count. Except *Second Life* isn't a game. Games have objectives, rules ... something to *win*. It is the mindset of leaving your ethics in a desk drawer because they don't apply in a virtual world. After all ... it's "just a game". The anonymity of a virtual environment creates a false sense that our actions will not really hurt anyone. The residents of *Second Life* need to look at a truth. All actions have consequences, whether those actions take place in a physical world or a virtual one. Theft is real, emotional abuse is real. The people behind the avatars on the computer screen are REAL! In fact, the employees of Linden Lab are real too! Avatars holding the last name of Linden in *Second Life* are real people going to real jobs and supporting real families. That said, maybe we can all take a second look at our "second lives" and rethink our actions and our interaction with others in this virtual space many call a *game*.


Ceidru said...

I try to be careful to refer to my non-SL time as First Life instead of "Real Life" as the latter does seem a strange viewpoint. But I think many feel that when they enter a virtual community space that things are entirely different there as 'it's not real'. Upon introducing a mature and responsible friend of mine to SL, she immediately started amusing herself with behaviour that I found both surprising and rude. This shift is one that yet eludes my understanding, though it does help explain why I see so many Profiles in SL that remind one that "there's a real person behind the avatar."

Raphaella said...

As long as I am real, my time 'really' passes and the fingers on my real keyboard have blood flowing through them I am real,

When I email someone I am rea.

When others including business people make appointments and exchange agreements via email they are REAL.

We have so many interactions that do not require flesh near flesh contact so I fail to see what logic is employed by those claiming SL is a game.

Apart from which even Courts have found that SL is NOT a game.. University Anthropological Depts have found that SL is not a game, so any statement that includes SL and game as being one and the same could only originate from the ignorant.

Anonymous said...

I agree to the other post, Any program that utilizes real money , and even has its own economy is not merely a "Game". I know my idea may be a bit intrusive, but I believe more people should limit access to accounts with payment information on file. I even built my viewer to show both Age and Payment information in their name Floater. So I can see what type of accounts are on the Sims at a glance. This also helps with griefers.