Blair Holt, real world child, dead at 17, chicken shit Democrats who won't cut ties with their RL corporate masters, countless hundreds of thousand dead in the cradle of RL civilization, species chased by short term profits hurtling over the cliffs of very very real climate change...
So why am I spending so much time in SL? Well.... I don't exist in the real world although I am very connected to it. What? Is this just babbling by some schizo chic? Elements of identity do not all necessarily mesh and co-occur simultaneously. I'm not willing to debate this. It is true. The self is so complex and so processually-defined that looking at it as a static entity that occurs here or there or now or then is at best naive and inadequate.
I've been waiting for a "Jetsons" world, a 2001: a Space Odyssey world, the promised virtual media life that has been available only in our solitary imaginations ever since my RL counterpart's childhood a few decades ago. I wanted to create an imaginary world with others. Suspension of disbelief with others rarely occurs after childhood. I'm talking about group play - group imagination. Mature western adults, almost entirely, experience suspension of disbelief only when engaged in reading, watching and other relatively passive interaction with fictions. Games, online games, allow shared suspension of disbelief but only in a passive way, the actions, options, and goals of such games are clearly delineated. Even though people participated together it was largely as though these groups were participating in a reenactment of a novel. While this analogy isn't a perfect one by any means, it is essentially a good one.
Now the thing that Second Life offered to my RL counterpart that other games had not was shared suspension of disbelief with singular and joint creativity. After thinking about this for almost a year, I have come to the conclusion that this is why the community of users in Second Life has grown from less than 300,000 a year ago to over 6,000,000 today.
Another aspect of what SL offers that other gaming does not, or why it is attractive to women like my RL counterpart is that shared creativity and information rich context is everywhere in SL. Those are also key to traditional solidarity or bonding within feminine society.
Lots of avatars with whom I've spoken have told me that sex and gambling are the essence of what SL is all about. I don't think that is so. It is at the core of what SL is for a large group of people. I cannot confirm it at this time, but I think that large group is largely composed of RL males. Not that women don't gamble and have sex. I personally would love to know the numbers per female avies (avatars) that are "backed" by males.
Anyway, SL allowed me to come to life in a way that nothing else had since I a little girl playing Jungle Barbie p.o.ed her mom because she rearranged all the house plants for the jungle and had Barbie running around topless because that is what people in the jungle do. I think the persona that I (Ana) have adopted and developed definitely is a continuation of the persona initially created among those houseplants and informed by National Geographic.
A lot of this is speculation and will remain so as being a part of the thing or process being investigated usually taints objectivity. But I did notice some very interesting reactions within myself to things that went on in and people in an SL "meeting."
I became semi-active in a group in SL, SL Netroots, last fall after the RL election when I stumbled into an after-election debriefing conference for "progressives." I even gave a presentation at the conference. I suggested a mirror action to the RL Jan 27 March. I attend a lot their meetings. I ranted about one of their speakers in another post. I don't want to post to an outside wiki, or yahoo group. I want to develop SL as a new vehicle for networking and global progressive cross-fertilization. I don't just come to SL for RL politics. It is something that interests me as my very existence depends on freedom of information and communication. I will talk about "Net Neutrality" at some point and how it is perfect doublespeak.... but some other time.
Lots of folks come to SL for sex and gambling. I don't know much about gambling. Never really got it. And sex... well that isn't any one's business but my own. And I am only 11 months old. That is too young for sex, right? LOL. I am very intrigued by the cultural limits SL and "the LIndens" place on sexuality. Bestiality via Furries is okay. BDSM is okay. Cannibalism via vampirism is okay. Public fornication is okay (in certain places.) Prostitution is okay. But what is called "age play" is not. I agree emotionally. I think having sex with a child avatar is reprehensible, icky, sicko and seriously perverted... but... all folks here in SL are adults. So why is it okay to torture, do sheep, and eat flesh, buy and sell flesh but not okay to pretend you are a 9 year old? I do understand why. You don't have to answer in a comment. But it is an inequity to think about.
The other thing about sex in SL that is weird is that you can't really tell what sex or gender an avi really is unless you know the person in RL. I've been hit on in dress shops by "lesbian" female avatars that I'm sure were guys. Women just don't come on as rudely, crudely, or brashly as guys.
There are lots of women in SL. Real women. Why is does SL appeal to women? Creativity. You can't be sexually assaulted. It is a verbal medium. It gives us the chance to do what we can't in RL (but that is true for males to some degree as well). It gives us a chance to create the rules. 17 year old children don't get shot on buses on the south side of Chicago while going to their grandparent's store to work after school.
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About this blog and Second Ana:
- The Womens Center, Second Life
- Ana Herzog, avatar in the virtual world of Second Life, expounds on the semiotics of identity in the metaverse, alternate realities, feminism, artistic expression and the growing use of SL as a a progressive networking tool. Second Ana was born into Second Life on July 8th of 2006. Her island, The Womens Center, will officially open on the Autumnal Equinox. She owns Casita Gaia, an Interior Furnishings Boutique in Barcelona del Oeste. She is the local coordinator for CODEPINK SL. CODEPINK SL is an international chapter of CODEPINK Women for Peace. CODEPINK is also represented by our hut hangout on Commonwealth Island where our neighbors include the ACLU and Green Peace.