Creating a NEW Life


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Have you ever wanted a new life? Have you ever looked around at what you have and although, thankful for the people and life around you, thought about breaking free, running away and becoming someone else?

I have.

Are you really someone else…entirely different than the person you portray to people? Do you have visions of being a six foot, 120 lb., leggy blonde that owns a dress shop in Paris? Well, I don’t know if I would go that far…but you get the idea.

In class this week, the assignment was to create an account via Second Life. Second Life is a 3D virtual universe, where you can be whatever you want to be. You can be you, if that’s what you want, and create an avatar that looks and acts like you do in real life. You can make an avatar that is completely different than you, hence the 6.3’ leggy blond, or you can create an avatar of fantasy…you can be a purple vampire with a fedora, if that is what you are into.

Prior to this assignment, I had never considered Second Life as something I would ever experience. I am not a “gamer” and thought Second Life was for sad, lonely people with no life. I don’t have a lot of extra time and to be honest, the last game I played was Super Mario Brothers in 1991.

I was intrigued after our lecture, and amazed by the organizations, universities, and other entities that are using Second Life. People have entire conferences online, hold meetings, and have classes. All you do is log in, create your mini-digital-me, and sit in a virtual classroom; all without the constraints of geography. It is truly amazing.

So, I did it. I have an avatar…words I never thought would come out of my mouth, much less type in a blog. I liked it, too. WHAT!!?? Yes, it is cool. Granted, I had no idea what I was doing…I was a little lost. After a little time, I figured some things out. I went some awesome places last night…did you? I went to the Grand Canyon, the beach, a dance club, a museum and went shoe shopping…I also went for a run in New York’s Battery Park…pretty good for a Saturday night.

I learned to walk, run and FLY…yes, FLY. It is a much faster way of travel and feels quite liberating. I teleported all over this virtual universe. I chatted with a few people, mostly asking for help in figuring things out. But overall it was quite interesting. After spending some time, as said leggy blond, I went back and edited her a bit. Unbelievable, as it was, I wanted her to be more like me. I shortened her down to 5.2’, thickened her legs a bit, widened her nose…but I left her blond and big boob’ed…Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

I don’t know how much time I will spend on it, or if I will ever log back in, but I can see the allure. Life is hard. The pressures are real. Even the most self-aware, self-confident, put-together people have hidden wants and dreams. In this world, this virtual world, you can be whatever you want to be, go wherever you want to go and do anything you want to do… it’s a whole lot less work than in real life and without the consequences. That’s a pretty cool thing…dangerous perhaps, but cool.

14 thoughts on “Creating a NEW Life

  1. Hi Hilleia: That dress shop in Paris sure sounds intriguing. I too never really contemplated Second Life prior to this assignment. In jumping into the virtual world, I noticed the multitude of companies, schools, organizations using it. I thought that was pretty awesome and wonder how they are benefiting from it. That said, I question whether this helps people work more effciently by saving on time, travel and helps achieve more work-life balance. Whatever these organizations are doing with it, it does require a time commitment and learning curve. I can’t exactly see my near-retirement co-worker using this. It would blow her mind in a bad way. I too experienced difficulty navigating through Second Life especially on my MacBook.

    Overall the entire experience seemed far too fanciful for me. As a social media manager, I’m constantly trying to create positive digital experiences for our followers. The amount of effort that goes into that makes search for more meaningful experiences in real life. Maybe I’ll go back too, but I’m not sure it offers enough benefits now.

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    • Thank you for commenting! Yes, the dress shop was fun. The experiences we had definitely opened up some questions. The time commitment is the big issue for me. I get swept away in things…I could easily get lost.

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  2. Hi Leia,

    Thanks for your honest and transparent feedback regarding your experiences in Second Life! Like you, I’m not much of a gamer. My only ‘gaming’ experiences are from childhood, and I remember being completely enthralled in the virtual world of neopets.com. This differed from that experience in several ways. First, Second Life allows you to create an avatar that resembles a human and not a pet. Like you, I found myself trying to create an avatar that looked like myself. I failed miserably. Secondly, the graphics have improved significantly since my last interaction with a virtual community — the whole thing felt so life-like!

    You hit the nail right on the head with this post. My favorite comment was this: “Life is hard. The pressures are real. Even the most self-aware, self-confident, put-together people have hidden wants and dreams. In this world, this virtual world, you can be whatever you want to be, go wherever you want to go and do anything you want to do…”

    SO true and so beautiful. Thanks for your thoughtful insight.
    Kim

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    • Kim! Thank you for your comments and your compliment.
      I had never heard of neopets before reading your blog. Sounds like a great way to teach children responsibility, Think about how many goldfish that had to save!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Considering your time there, maybe you should be a plastic surgeon in SL?

    I find this comment interesting:

    “Life is hard. The pressures are real. Even the most self-aware, self-confident, put-together people have hidden wants and dreams. In this world, this virtual world, you can be whatever you want to be, go wherever you want to go and do anything you want to do… it’s a whole lot less work than in real life and without the consequences.”

    I know you are a casual visitor to SL, like most of us in class. But, I think you are touching on something here. Is the main attraction of this site the power to become a different you?

    Well, not really a different you, just a pretend different you?

    Immersive escapism is part of the human experience. Maybe it is necessary. People find it through work, relationships, religion, reading, television, drugs, hobbies, exercise. You name it.

    I wonder what it is like for those people who do build complex and involved Second Lives when they log out. Is real life a total let down. If you can fly and be rich and be beautiful and powerful in SL, why would you ever want to go back to your part-time job, your cats and your basement apartment in your parent’s house (I couldn’t resist the stereotype…no hate…no hate)?

    The cognitive dissonance created by the distance between Second Life and first life could be an interesting research topic.

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    • Hi Rick!!
      Thank you for commenting! I mentioned to another classmate that I found this assignment so interesting partly because I was curious about the choices I would make. What things have i oppressed and what things would I let come out in SL? (my choices will be locked away in SL forever… no one knows but me) This would make a great assignment for a psychology major. I use exercise in real life… It is my escape.

      I wish I was smart enough to open a store much less be a surgeon. I want to make $5000 a week selling virtual clothes!!! I can’t believe it is actually a thing.

      I agree about the topic. We need one, right? You should look in that.

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  4. Leia,
    After I completed our readings for the week, I too was surprised at all of the ways people use the virtual world to benefit from–especially in the medical field! I did not teleport to the Grand Canyon, although that would have been fun since going to see the real deal is on my bucket list. I *tried* to go shoe shopping but when you don’t have their currency, it makes it really hard to make any avatar upgrades. For me, there was more of an issue making friends in the virtual world (mostly because everywhere I went was empty–could be related to the time of use) than in the real world. Maybe they also sniffed out my newbie vibes since I was in the generic outfit you pick when you sign up! I also thought flying was pretty interesting! I cannot say that I have ever done that in real life ;o).

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    • Hi Megan!
      I found a friend that took me to Paris. I don’t know the name of the store…I just followed him, but everything in it was free. It was huge. Rows of shoes, hair, clothes, body parts, tattoos…everything you could want. All free. It was really nice of him to show it to me. My first try, there wasn’t many people about, either I don’t know why, I just thought it would be packed.
      You are going to think I am crazy but I have a recurring dream that I can fly. I have had it since I was young so I really loved this feature. It was my favorite part.
      A lot of classmates, didn’t enjoy this assignment. I liked it. It was an eye-opening experience… even just analyzing some of the choices I made. I thought this was an interesting insight “Here you can learn things, things you never knew you wanted to learn.” – random avatar.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for commenting Kaitlin!
    Overall it was interesting…right? I am somewhere in the middle, I guess, between thinking it was a horrible waste of time and that it was something fun and really cool. I love my life, too. I am lucky to have people that love and accept me…but not everyone is that lucky. Isn’t it neat…that someone who has had trouble making friends, or doesn’t think they are pretty…can log-on to SL and experience popularity or admiration? I know it’s weird…but if it makes people happy…I’m not knocking it.

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  6. Amazing post Leia! I love how open minded your feedback was. I am also not a gamer. I do however recall similar games form my childhood, such as Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong on Nintendo 64. Maybe my brother always asking me to play is where my resentment stems from, anyways, I digress. As frustrating as I personally found the experience, I tried to express my level of acceptance for others’ Second Life passions, but I didn’t do nearly as good a job as you did. Although there have been times my life has been stressful and I want to escape, overall I’m very fortunate to enjoy my life. I can see how this platform could be a beneficial form of escapism for other individuals; however, I can also see how that may lead to further issues. Even though I may day dream from time to time about “what my life would be like if…,” I’m ultimately glad everything has panned out the way it has, and I think I’ve learned a lot from the lows. When I do have those moments I feel like escaping, it’s more of a desire to stop everything, not resort to a second life.
    Thank you for sharing your insight – I really enjoyed your post.

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  7. Hi Leia ,
    I agree with you people wants to dream and they wants to be different . Sometimes I just feel result can be achieved in RL so not need to go into SL to be different, just action in RL should be enough.
    One thing I noticed that it’s cool to speak to people, some of them are fun, for example I was in a street, and I heard a person talking to somebody else giving a receipt for raw lasagna, it was like being in a café and listening the person speaking to the next table.
    Speaking can be nicer then typing I guess it’s more engaging, so I find part of this SL success it’s also due to the possibility to interact and speak to the persons.
    If I ever go back will be to sit in an university virtual course that it’s interesting and we can meet interesting people too

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  8. That was quite the experience you had on Second Life, I am very happy that you got a lot out of it. I understand and get the allure of escapism using virtual reality platforms but this is not for me. I will not knock those who use it as it can beneficial for them in just escaping, for a moment, from the real world pressures.

    It is also amazing how virtual reality experiences are affecting how we learn. The idea that soon students will not have to go actual classes but just sit in the comfort of their homes and pretend to go to class is kind of crazy. I wonder if virtual PE will be offered in these schools?

    I chuckled when you exclaimed how your avatar could fly as I said the same thing in my blog post. I think that was one of the coolest features that I saw on Second Life. I wish we could do the same thing in real life.

    Good post and thanks for sharing.

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    • Thank you for commenting Mark! I doubt I’ll go back…I could get sucked in. I like to shop, travel, and dance…it could get addicting. I found the controls difficult to use…
      I have been amazed by a lot of things, through this class. It’s very interesting what has been created.

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