Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What's SLove got to do with it?

Some people go to Second Life for virtual sex, or even cybersex. What is the sound of one hand fapping? :) There are tons of animations for simulated sex between avatars, or even among avatars, more positions than most people have even thought about or known about in first life.

I like virtual sex in SL. No, I love virtual sex. The suggestion of intimacy can be very stimulating and satisfying, even without touching. Sex, however, is not what really gets my attention in SL.

Love does.

Love? How can avatars love? Is it simulated love, like the simulated sex? Is it just some fantasy role play?

Not for me. I form real bonds through SL. Behind every avatar is a real person, and I bond with that real person through the medium of SL and our avatars. When I tell my sweetheart I love her, or Tatsuko, or Patrice, or Cala, or Envy, I really mean it. I'm not just tossing that word around. I truly care about those people, whether I've met them in the flesh or not.

There's something about SL that facilitates such bonding for me. I form close associations through Twitter and other social networking connections. There are people I don't see in SL whom I also care about deeply. But it's at a different level in SL. Avatars aren't just pixelated images. They have an odd kind of reality of their own.

The other night, I met my sweetheart in SL after having been IMing with her. Being with her in SL was totally different than IM. I felt much more present with her, even though we were no closer in first life than we were via IM. We can talk about touching and caressing in IM, and that works on the imagination to an extent. But maybe I'm just a visual person. The suggestion is much stronger in SL. The imagination really gets into gear.

When I am holding my sweetheart in SL or she is holding me, I feel held in first life. When I am kissing her, I feel kissed. When she hurts, I hurt with her. This is only going to get stronger as the ways that avatars can express themselves get better.

In a way, my sweetheart is her beautiful avatar, and I am mine. We give full expression to our inner selves through our avatars. That little doll is important to me. She has a kind of life of her own. That was true right from the start. Of course she doesn't have independent existence, but just like a character in a novel, she behaves in a consistent, realistic manner. She behaves in a way that fits her on-going story. I cannot, or at least would not, make her do just anything. A novelist loves her characters. I love mine, and I love many of those she interacts with, characters constantly being "written" by other "novelists."

I think this love is real.

Anyone who is not in SL, maybe even some who are, will probably think I'm crazy. Do I have an overactive imagination? Or does the imagination of others need a boost?

[Addendum: the photo is of my friends Eloria and Merik. I'm not in there. :)]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Second chance

Second Life is a lot of things for me. I've given up on trying to separate immersion from augmentation. For me, SL is both immersion in fantasy and social networking with real people. I interact with real people through a virtual world in which all kinds of fantastic things are possible, not the least of which is that I can be an accomplished ballroom dancer. I dig that.

In SL, I am not solitary. I wish I could enjoy solitary time more, use it to explore or whatever, but I don't very much. I like to be with other avatars—other people. I'm not great about keeping up with all the people on my Friends list (and I've been dumped for neglect sometimes), but I keep up with quite a few. They are real friends. They're important to me.

I form deeper relationships as well. Not even two months into my second life, I formed a partnership with Patrice. Our relationship is pretty well documented in this blog, all the ups and downs, the difficult times and the more numerous wonderful times. We learned to trust each other, slowly (it's difficult in a medium where you can't really see the other person), and we shared so much of our lives with each other. In many ways, it was a second marriage for me, which worked thanks to the non-jealous patience of my wonderful first life spouse. It probably helps that my spouse doesn't much like SL and doesn't think of it as real.

Patrice and I split up a little over a year ago (I'm happy we are still friends). At first, as always after a close relationship, it was refreshingly different to be on my own. But for me, that never lasts too long. I almost formed a new partnership with someone I'll call "raven hair," whom I had long been friends with and became even closer to during the first months of my singularity. She asked. I said no. At the time, I was so busy in first life that I knew I would not have been able to give her the kind of time and attention she needed. It hurt me terribly to say no. It hurt me terribly for more than a year afterward. She met someone else, and they partnered. It was all I could do to attend the wedding. I was truly happy for her, but I was unhappy for myself. Still, I maintained a close friendship with her.

I met a darling redhead, a friend of raven hair as it turned out, and we saw each other for a short time. It didn't work. There were misunderstandings from the start. We have since become friends, but we weren't right for a romantic relationship.

Then there was the blond. OMG. I had a mad crush on her from the minute I met her. We had been friends, not close but good, since that time. She was even sort of my boss at one point, when I was doing a DJ gig. We had always enjoyed talking with each other. Last spring, she indicated that she was interested in something more. My heart lept. I moved too quickly. We had more misunderstandings, lots of them, more serious ones. We had wonderful times and terrible times. And for all that, we were never really in a relationship. That was all about trying to work things out. We are still friends, but I think it's best if that's how we leave it. I still think she is one of the most beautiful avatars in SL, and I like her very much, but we both know that there's much more to a relationship, even in SL.

I was close to writing a woe-is-me blog entry, a tale of hopeless love, but I never did. That's probably just as well. Not long ago, my poor raven hair's heart was broken. Her partnership ended in a way that was very hurtful to her. As her friend, indeed perhaps her best friend, I felt bad for her. I knew how hurt she was. She does not hold back when giving her heart. I was torn between my own selfishness and wanting only what was best for her.

I hope we have found a path that works for both of us. We have not plighted any troth, but we are seeing each other romantically. I need to give her time and space, but I wasn't about to be all noble and watch someone else zoom in and take her away. I had my own heart to think of. If I had lost her a second time, I would have been devastated. So we are together, yet going slowly. She is still healing, and I need to learn patience. I love her dearly. I have for quite a long time. And I know that she loves me. I trust her and trust her love. I need to trust more.

Many people seem to have more confidence in SL, when they express themselves through their avatars. Leave it to me to ave the opposite. I have plenty of confidence in first life. In SL, I am a silly schoolgirl. I must do better than that, both for my sake and for the sake of my raven-haired beauty.