Posts Tagged 'SL psychology'

The Unseen Posts

Among the bloggers I read there is another discussion going on about “real” identity versus avatar identity, meeting avatars in “real” life, are you your avatar?  My avatar is not even 4 years old and I think that discussion has been around easily 6 or 7 times in my “life”.   I am Ahuva and Ahuva is me.  I see that Chestnut Rau, one of the very first, if not THE first, bloggers I began to read has come to much the same realization about herself. I am more than just Ahuva and Ahuva gets to be more than I can be in the biological tangible world  (simply consider Ahuva’s clothing choices as a start).   I’ve met many many SL avatars and Plurk avatars in “real” life.  Quite honestly – for me – it’s ALL my real life.   One of my mentors is a biological male and is a drop-dead sexy female avatar.   No, he’s not gay, he’s not gender confused, he’s not a cross-dresser.  He had his own reasons for his avatar.  I interact with him/her.  I have no problem with the picture in my head.  They both coexist because they are both him.  And I always know with which aspect of his personality I am interacting.   Maybe it’s because for me, when I interact, it’s an overall emotional response that drives me, not images.  I don’t know and I don’t care.

Blogging is intensely personal for me.  *grin*  Life is intensely personal for me.  *bigger grin*  But you knew that. What concerns me is not the integration of RL/SL, nor is it the exposure of my SL to my RL. Most people in my RL know Ahuva, or know of Ahuva. Many people in SL know my RL information. Let’s go back to the concept that privacy is dead, that there are no secrets on the internet, that you can run but you really can’t hide.

I want to post about many many topics. I hold back. Why? Am I a coward? No. Or rather – maybe I am. But I’m getting old, folks. I’ve got a son who has reached the age of majority. I’m in what I “lovingly” call the downhill side. It took me a LONG time but finally I have absorbed some lessons. First – the way I feel today, no matter how passionately I feel it, is not necessarily the way I will feel tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll feel that way tomorrow but next year I will have changed my mind. Second – words on the internet live forever. That may not be true, but from all my knowledge – that’s how I see it. Third – We are judged by other people’s perceptions. Their perceptions can impact our lives dramatically. Fourth – words wound. I might be writing what I see as simple truth, or my opinion, but people read my words through their own filter. If they are in a bad mood, perhaps they read my words in anger and therefore hear anger and hate. I don’t want to add more ugliness to the world if I have the opportunity to avoid it. There’s a time and place for constructive criticism and my blog is probably neither.

Which leaves me with my unseen posts. The ones where I talk about the lessons I learn in the workplace: working with others, managing expectations, the effect of good and bad management, the frustration of the current economy. The posts where I talk about being a real person who is aging: becoming the dreaded grown-up I swore I’d never be, realizing what is important in personal and familial relationships, the fear of the future, death of loved ones. The posts where I talk about being a woman: sexuality, love, parenting, sistering, daughtering, the effect of full moons. The posts where I vent the judgmental views of being a person: OMG, who let that person sing? Who let that person write? That has to be the ugliest build I’ve ever seen. That is the stupidest approach to that situation. And all the other posts where I let flow my momentary anger, frustration and fear.

I feel I have learned so very much in the last few years. I owe a good part of that learning to the fact that I freed part of myself into an avatar and then brought that avatar back into me. I want to try to explain to other people what I’ve finally learned about life and love, speaking and not speaking, acting and not acting. But I lack the skill to say what I want to say without getting the lesson bogged down in the personal details of how I learned it.

I’m not afraid of tying my avatar to my RL. I’m afraid of tying myself to the wrong moment in my life. I am evolving, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but I AM changing. Words posted to a blog capture a moment of time in my life to me. But those very same words may stand as my image engraved in stone, stuck fast, all that some other will know of me. I cannot tell in the present tense what I wish to represent me in the future tense.

Or if you’d rather end on a lighter note – I’m afraid of writing under the influence of a full moon. 🙂 Which is when I wrote the first draft of this.

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Ahuva Sides With Darwin

It seems that for the last 2 years many in the SL community have been discussing and debating user retention. One of the first discussions that *I* remember was back in, I think, the fall of 2008, or maybe it was early 2009. Gwyneth Llewelyn , one of my favorite bloggers (who seems to have been very quiet lately), talked about the SL experience in terms of tourists and emigres. Then came Mark Kingdon and Viewer 2 and the discussion roared into high gear – How to ‘make’ users survive the first hour experience. Then Kingdon left and Rod Humble, known to the SL Twitter community as Rodvik, arrived. Rodvik has been (surprisingly) communicative with SLers via Twitter and many folk have taken to tweeting him suggestions for user retention. Skate Foss in particular has been tweeting suggestions for making the first SL experience more useful, pleasant and appealing. Crap Mariner has spoken out on this. Botgirl Questi has blogged her thoughts. Tateru Nino has blogged numerous times(actually, I even commented on one of them). Lately the conversation has focused in particular on Orientation Island, Help Islands and the horrible experiences at Ahern (one of the Welcome Areas) and the abolishment of SL mentors. The most recent discussion I’ve seen was on Lalo Telling’s blog.

I believe that, come the revolution, everyone will have an avatar in one or more virtual worlds. But I don’t think that this current version of SL is that be all and end all. I find that more and more I consider the first hour/first day experience to be a natural selection process. Those of us who belong there stay despite the griefers and idiots and hardware issues. Those who don’t aren’t going to stay even if they come thru NCI, which was wonderful. Melissa rezzed into SL for the first time within 24 hours of my rezzing. She is the one who found NCI. She was an experienced chat room user and grasped the basics much faster than I. Yet – I stayed and she didn’t. It wasn’t the viewer. It wasn’t the welcome area. It wasn’t the lack of knowing about things – the NCI folk educated us both. It sure as heck wasn’t because my computer had sufficient hardware to run SL. Natural Selection. *I* belong in SL. Apparently she doesn’t.

Messages from RL

Well, I went to the reunion and survived. *grin* It was okay. Not traumatic, not wonderful. There were 3 positive events, so I guess I’d have to call it a win event. Will I go to the next one? No, probably not. Most of the evening was entirely superficial and repetitious. LOL. I did give my unfettered Ahuva free reign at one point. *grin* There is someone who may now regret having stood me up on our date way back in our senior year. And he may well be thinking of me in the future. /me smiles the wicked Ahuva smile.

My wonderful husband came through yet again for this year’s birthday. I asked for and got a new iPod. BUT….. he had it engraved. For all of you who ask “What does your husband think about your time in SL?” – he engraved it with both my RL and SL names. So now you know.

Chestnut had a fantastic blog the other day. Who is a content provider? Guess what – we all are. Even more to the point was Raven’s comment. Wow. I can’t say it better. Go read it for yourselves.

morning prayersI’ll close with this thought. It’s triggered by 2 things: something that someone in SL said to a friend and by thoughts of my father.
Life is too short, folks. It could end tomorrow – snap! So I’m not playing games. I am who and what I am. I’m not backing down, I’m not running away. If there’s something I want – I’m going for it. I don’t intend to be rude. Yes, I may be forward. My apologies if I surprise or offend you along the way – that is not my intent. But I want to live NOW. I’m shooting for the stars. Today could be my last day. I’m not wasting it. Enjoy life!

University of SL

A bit ago my sister and I were walking and talking and laughing. I was reflecting on Life. Well, really on MY life because, as you should know, it IS all about ME. *grin* I see life as a series of specific events. You either pass these events or you fail. You get letter grades as well. I mentioned one such incident to my sister, saying that I thought I got a C- at best because although I “passed” it, I really could have done better and learned more. On the other hand, I gave myself a strong A for another rite of passage. She was quite amused at this concept: that Life is a curriculum. Apparently even though we are sisters, we don’t view Life in the same manner. But we started playing with the idea of the University of Life, where there is a core curriculum – things we ALL must do. We identified core courses and electives. It seems to me we could play this game here, too. We are enrolled in SL. There are certain courses we ALL must take. There are electives. I suspect that this topic would be best in the hands of someone like Prad Prathivi in his Metaversally Speaking blog. Actually, he probably HAS had a post on something like this – he had so many truly funny posts on life in SL. *grin* My apologies if I am treading old ground. I am too lazy to go back and read all of Prad’s humor posts (although I would probably laugh all over again, and laughing is good). And I’ve been thinking on this topic for the last few weeks.

So here it is…. Ahuva’s curriculum guide to the Univ of SL. I know it’s incomplete – PLEASE be sure to add to the course list. I am NOT telling you which courses I have taken. *grin* After all – I am still a matriculating student. I have time ……

Orientation Island 100:

Okay, I’ll admit to failing this one. If you are one of the 5 people who have been with me since Day 1 of this blog, you already know that I failed OI. This course allows the new student to learn to walk, talk and “do things”. Since I failed this and was tp’d out of OI in less than an hour, I really DON’T know what happens in this course. LOL. I ultimately took an equivalency exam so I could move on……

inventory 100Inventory 100

You have to learn how to open your inventory. How to buy something and open it to your inventory, how to make folders.

*grin* Okay, here’s the truth. Those aren’t really the kinds of courses I meant at all. Let’s get right to the nitty-gritty. I’ve left out sooooo many. But these are the first that came to mind. *grin* Oops. What DOES that say about me?????

espyCyber 100

Have your first SL sexual experience. Everyone has to at least try cyber. There ARE harmless ways to do this, you know. This reminds me of a wonderful book by Willard R. Espy, The Almanac of Words at Play. He does a WONDERFUL example of porn writing for people who have no desire to read porn. He describes cooking an egg. *grin* But he does it porn-style. So. You CAN learn to cyber straight up (all puns intended) or you could get someone to help you learn “cooking-egg” style. Requirements: LOL. An active imagination??? The proper pose balls??? A VERY good friend??? A total stranger????

Drama Queen 200

Meet your first drama queen. Be part of the emotional storm flung through the local chat and all known IMs. Have people IM’ing you to report back on the drama queen. To tell you the ripple effect. Waste hours and hours on the Drama Queen’s story. Requirements: Make 3 friends. At least one of them is a drama queen, trust me.

Drunk in SL 210

Logging in to SL while you are inebriated. This course is closely related to Drama Queen 200. The most successful strategy for navigating THIS course is to be sufficiently drunk that you are unable to actually work the keyboard or mouse, and therefore you fall asleep before you do too much damage. Requirements: /me blinks. whatever it takes to get you to an altered condition where you are going to say things you really shouldn’t and where you will do something equivalent to dancing on the table with a lampshade on your head in RL. But – in SL – dancing on the table with a lampshade on your head is everyday behavior. *grin*

Live Mic 300

Oh yes, a VERY popular course. Leaving your mic open. It’s bad enough when it’s just feedback. But when you actually start talking over the performer/speaker….. that’s a fail. *grin* Requirements: no headset, open mic, refusal to read chats and IMs where people keep saying to you: please close your mic, we can all hear you. please close your mic- you are causing feedback.

Failed Love Affair 400

You are in love. You shout it to the world. You partner. It fails. Your heart breaks. I’m not even making fun here, folks. It’s a course. It’s life. I’ve watched too many people enroll in this one. Despite the grueling course load – this course always has standing-room only enrollment. Course requirement: the willingness (or stupidity) to trust your heart to another, to let yourself feel, and to learn that SL is like RL – things don’t always work out. Duration of course – much shorter than it takes in RL.

build a pyramidLearning to Create 100

Whether you take on scripting or building, you must try to create something sometime. Either you are hooked and you have found your electives, or you need to find a different vocational path. Course requirement is that you must create something other than a wood cube. *grin* At least change the color of the cube and make it a sphere!!!!!!!

SL Ennui 500

No one loves me. I hate everyone. I’m bored. I’m going to eat worms. SL is the pits and I’m leaving forever. You should too, you know, because SL sucks. I’m leaving. I’m never coming back. I’m never talking or thinking about SL ever again. Course requirements: you need to tell this to everyone you know, everyone you meet, everyone you don’t know. You need to post it to every medium possible. This course lasts 48 hours, at which point you return to SL and pretend you never said any of it. *grin*

Grid Hunts 100

Freebies!!!!! Hunting the grid for freebies! Learning to spot hidden packages. Luring your friends out to join you, getting THEM to waste hours on the hunt as well (you get extra credit for every friend you seduce into wasting time on the hunt 🙂 ). If you haven’t hunted, you cannot graduate. It’s really that simple. Requirements: None. Show up on the hunt. Click on the object. You are hooked. Your inventory is doomed. (See inventory picture above….. I have over 30 Bunny Hop folders. That I still have not organized. Plus all the stuff I also BOUGHT from the stores that I was in while I was wasting hours chasing eggs.)

Live Concerts 315

You must attend a live concert. See the local chat spam. Observe the idiots who feel compelled to shout, scream and perform obscenities in local chat while the performer is singing or talking. Feel the excitement when you realize that there is indeed a real live human being on the other end of your computer. That person is really singing and playing – for YOU!!!! And you get lost in the music and the glow. Requirements: None. Just try it once, that’s really all it takes. You’ll do it again. Really – you’ll take electives in this field, we all do.

SL Blogging 230

Ah, my favorite. LOL. EVERYONE in SL bogs. You must create a blog. You must tell all your friends about your blog. You must send the blog link to EVERYONE you know. Put your blog link in your profile. On every page in your profile. Pontificate to the world about the meaning of life. About the meaning of SL. About your personal hopes and dreams. About why you are so brilliant and wonderful and talented and everyone should take your advice. Requirements: ROFLOL. It’s like making babies unfortunately. They let ANYONE do it. Even Ahuva……

Blogging 230

Our World is What We Make It

By now you know me. I will study and think and ponder an issue until I can reach a place where I feel I understand it. I’ve been having great difficulty with people saying “SL is full of THESE people” or “SL is full of THOSE people” or “Everyone I meet in SL behaves SUCHandSUCH”. But I don’t SEE that. I”m not denying that THESE and THOSE and SUCHandSUCH exist. I’m saying that my world is NOT oriented that way. First I got annoyed – stop painting me with your brush. But then I wanted to understand WHY we are all so sure that our view of the world is correct. So I’ve been chatting and emailing with friends.

One view out a doorI’ve heard some very interesting takes on what kinds of people come to virtual worlds, what kind of people come to SL specifically. Almost all the conversations I’ve had contained at least one insight that helped me understand more clearly why I don’t recognize YOUR world. The following idea comes from a friend who declined to guest blog. She told me to take her email and present it. So that is what I am doing. *grin* I take no credit for these ideas, but I will say that they resonate with me, and perhaps I can finally let this topic rest.

What I would suggest is related back to Rheta Shan’s blog on why people come to SL–that they find something they need. And I would also suggest that the friends they make are related to what they need. So for example, one person finds other people who, like him, need a few hours/day to escape from some trauma or issue in their RL which is so overwhelming that it colors their entire real world. Of COURSE those people would be friends–who else would REALLY “understand” him, and thus “connect” with him long-term? He has undoubtedly met MANY people who do not fit his paradigm, but they aren’t his friends, they are just other people in the same room.

You, Ahuva, found a business environment which you saw as an opportunity to enrich your RL business environment the view out MY door(with which you have been bored and underutilized by for years). You connected with people who are creating the kinds of things YOU would like to create–not the concrete things, per se (i.e. a specific business product) but a “bigger picture”. So it’s no accident that the friends YOU made are very intelligent, high-achieving, creative people who are inventing new ways to interact in a business environment and expanding the opportunities for others to do the same. Those were the people YOU needed to have in your life, hence those are the people you found, and friended.

People find what they need. If they have been damaged and need friends who understand them, then they find other damaged people. If they need to be loved and appreciated and desired, they find a lover. (Obviously so many people need this, that is why the Internet is renowned for sex!) If they need a challenge, they find a challenge. The posts and comments say more about the people who write them than they say about SL.

I think that her words make sense to me. We find what we need. We may need more than one thing, so we will have many friends. But we fill our world with what we need. Our world is what we make it. We all have a different view out our front door.

A Positive View

Often when I read blogs and articles about SL, I come across negative, derogatory remarks from people who know nothing about SL. They exhort SL’ers to “get a life” and “get psychological counseling” and suggest other such “advice”. I’m fairly used to the idea that people who don’t know about SL simply do not understand the positive aspects of life in a virtual world. But I rather expect that people who DO “live” here should understand that there are many, many benefits to a virtual life. So the fact that in the last week I read at least two blog posts claiming that everyone in SL is mentally ill – that ticked me off. I refuse to dignify those bloggers, both of whom have spent considerable time in SL, by providing links or names. I don’t agree with them. I don’t like how they phrased their opinion. I don’t like a lot of the comments from people chiming in to beat the same drum. I’m tired of people who have “left” SL but continually comment on SL, noting all that is wrong and harmful about it. I was annoyed enough that I vented to my friend Oura. We chatted a bit and I asked Oura to write down her thoughts, so that I could share them with you.

Now I turn my blog over to Oura:

sl sunsetIt is no secret that the impact of others can have a profound effect on our lives… Whether just a smile as we pass on the sidewalk or a generous gift in a time of need, the compassion of another human being can be imprinted on the core of who we are.

This effect can be both positive and negative. That is the twist isn’t it, what do we allow to affect OUR core? Will we accept the generosity of strangers? Will we pass that along – the domino effect? Will we take the hatred that is there and allow it to imprint on OUR core as well? Will we pass that along to the next person with whom we come in contact? To go through life dealing with the many different types of people and only accepting the ‘good’ of their personalities, only allowing the positive to be imprinted on our souls, that is the goal isn’t it?

But what happens when the bad is there and it is so abundant that it gets to you, gets under your skin so to speak. There are people who feed on negativity, who grow problems it seems, some who look for trouble all the time. Our philosophy should not change, we should not be any different with those people than we are with the upbeat, positive people we meet. Take only the good and leave the bad. Someone once said, “you can find good in everyone if you look hard enough” (I tried to find if anyone was credited with that quote and was unable to do so).

There are some people who are negative about SL. WOW, have they spent any time in SL? I am amazed at the thought of this. Second Life is such a rich and rewarding community. It is like a community in First Life. There are rich and rewarding relationships, learning opportunities, things to explore and to help us grow as human beings. We can have very meaningful relationships, we can share ideas and information, we can work or play. Second Life is what we make it. It is our community.

magicOn Mother’s Day I logged in and out a few times. During one visit I was privileged to read the group chat for the SL Divine Divas. There was a lot of conversation about the new hunt that started that day. One person in particular was asking about the gifts and how to determine which ones were the best value, because she had limited funds. She went on to explain that she had been troubled lately because of the holiday and the passing of her mother and how being in SL has helped and how the group chat was so encouraging. The Divas stepped up and outdid themselves. This, however, is not an uncommon thing in SL. The Divas immediately sent notes of encouragement and support. The love for a stranger was very apparent. Many sent this person SL funds so they did not have to pick and choose on the hunt, myself included. It is such a small amount for some of us but has such a profound difference for others.

I also attended a Relay for Life event where a friend of mine was going “Bald for Charity”. She set a goal of xL$/day – for each xL$ collected she would go bald for one day. I believe she was up to 7 days when the shaving began. This is another example of one of the many, many generous and caring individuals that I have had the privilege and honor of knowing ONLY through SL.

I say to those that are not happy here for whatever reason: loosen up – try to have fun – enjoy life. But if you do not want to take the good that is available, then go find your third life and leave us to our second life. We like it here and are very happy.
beauty 2

SL is a Mirror of my Soul

There is a lively conversation going on at my company concerning avatar appearance. Much of it started with a coworker posting the following:

having an AV can be a positive, educational experience: I’ve heard people talk about how it can be a chance to ‘start all over again’. And it can be that: our AVs may be tougher, or more sensitive, or more masculine, or feminine, than our real-world selves. And our RL selves can learn from the experience.

And one thing I’ve noticed is that people demand the use of their real names during real business events. Doubly so if they’re a ‘mover & shaker’ with a Big Name and a Big Reputation. They’d also like for their AVs to look exactly like their RL selves, too — but The Name is the important part.

At approximately the same time as this thread appeared, I was listening to a Metanomics show.  Robert Bloomfield offers a Connecting the Dots segment where he comments on feedback.  I regret that I can’t seem to find the appropriate link for the segment that I heard.  But if my memory serves me correctly, he spoke about avatar appearance and “Are you really going out looking like THAT?”.  His point was that for business conducted in a virtual world, you need to LOOK like a RL business person. That opinion is supported by another coworker who posted that, according to a survey of business people, the majority of those polled wanted their “work” AVs to have both their RL name but also look like themselves.

Interesting. I have no problem with my avatar bearing my RL name for business meetings in a virtual world. I even agree that it is NECESSARY for a work avatar to bear the RL name. I am also sure that the first person had it right – the bigger the name, the greater the demand to have it displayed. Hey – that’s life. That person worked hard (usually) for that reputation. If they are inworld doing business, then it’s important to maintain that identity that gives them status and credibility. But I am not so sure about appearance.

I am quite satisfied, even pleased, with my RL appearance. But I don’t want to look like the physical me when I am in a virtual world. Virtual worlds allow me to portray myself as I see me from the inside. I don’t have to be constrained anymore by physics and gravity and reality and the fortunes of fate. I’ve talked about this before. Your avatar appearance can change your RL experience ( The Stanford Study ). There is no question that my avatar has changed my RL persona and that I have learned a great deal about who I really am.  I am making a definite statement about myself when I customize my avatar. It’s not just vanity. Or maybe it is. So what?   If it’s vanity – I’m STILL conveying something essential about myself. Yet another coworker posted what I think is a fascinating insight:

“I’m almost wondering if this need for reality in identity is actually more of a generational manifestation? “

That coworker goes on to say that the current generation of youth (I’m going to say that for me – I think it’s people 30 and younger) already have developed avatars for themselves and that they carry those representations of themselves through all the social media that they utilize. I agree with this whole-heartedly.

I know that most of you reading this blog are not in SL for business purposes.  But take a moment and think about this.  If you COULD have your avatar look like your physical self, would you?  Now imagine that in your job, your current RL job, you had to hold meetings and do business virtually.  Imagine meeting all your coworkers inworld.   Now what is your answer?

SL is not the mirror of my body.  SL is the mirror of my soul.

they-are-all-me


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