Thursday, March 26, 2009

Coming of Age in Second Life

Written 4 February, 2009

Coming of Age in Second Life

When I came to Second Life I didn’t quite know what to expect or what to do besides chase after freebies. I had a hard time walking and flying, and I made more social gaffes than I care to think about.

Today, two and a half years later, I know the world and have become experienced with its tools. I live in a beautiful place, surrounded by beautiful things. I have a wonderful partner and terrific friends. I have a store and sell enough things to provide me with spending money.

Like most people who have come to Second Life and stayed, I have come of age.

People come of age here in many ways. Some of us become sim owners, some entrepreneurs, some artists, some socialites, some celebrities, We become established as builders, or as courtesans, or as roleplayers, or as scripters, or as writers, or as explorers.

It takes a while for some of us to come of age. My friend Bonneville was in world for a year before he rezzed a prim; now he’s building like mad. My friend Greg began taking photographs after he had been in world for a year; now he’s a celebrated virtual photographer. My friend Stargazer began by making and selling jewelry; now, two plus years into her second life, she’s running a virtual university.

Coming of age, however, isn’t necessarily a function of time in world. My friend Bramblelberry was building before he was a week in world and had a store open in his first month. My friend AngelMarie came into world knowing she wanted to be an exotic dancer; she was dancing within a week. Within a month she was managing a strip club and living in a mansion with a Second Life partner. Both Bram and Angel knew what they wanted from Second Life before they ever logged in, and quickly found stable and fulfilling virtual existences.

When I speak of coming of age, I don’t mean fulfilling a preset goal, or mastering the in-world business tools, or getting into a relationship (although those can be a part of it). We come of age by finding, whether by plan or happenstance, our true second selves and achieving a harmony and stability of existence here on the grid. This stability manifests in many ways: through our creations and good works, through our relationships, through our networks of friends and acquaintances, through learning the customs and mores of Second Life, through learning and becoming comfortable with the user interface, and perhaps by striking a balance between our time in world and our first lives. We become known to others, and we come to know ourselves. We become adults in Second Life. We become comfortable in our second skins. We come of age.

5 comments:

jimlewis said...

Holy moly, after more than two years I haven't done anything lol

Lea said...

This is a really nice piece and a really interesting interpretation of "coming of age" in SL. I also wonder, though, about those who come of age multiple times, through multiple avatars. SL has that advantage over RL: you can do as much identity revision as you need to, or you can try out as many as you want.

Cheyenne Palisades said...

Interesting thought, Lea!

JimLewis, I've known you for a while, and I would say you have come of age even if you think you haven't. It isn't really about what you do, but of manifesting who you are.

jimlewis said...

lol Cheyenne, I don't call endless sex as coming of age lol Only kidding. I guess I have done a few things. Heck, going on two years since I met you. Wish dreamlands had left things alone. Anyways, hope all is well ;)

Stephanie said...

After 9 months in SL (hmmmm...) I finally came of age last week as a tiny. I had changed most things at least once a day - avatars, skin, clothes, etc. and was a rampant freebie shopper. I'd spent time in Raglan Shire as a tiny and belonged to their group which chats it up all day long. One day last week happened to be Waffle Day at Linden Labs. Blue Linden mentioned this in our group chat and since tinies are obsessed with waffles, we had a Wafflefest going in Raglan within 20 minutes with free waffle stuff, a waffle dance floor and tons of tinies and Lindens having a blast. I decided right then to be a full time tiny since it was the only community that drew me in.