(Wearing my Belleza Isis mesh body, free Belleza Group Gift skin, tinted Group Gift hair “Lead” from Little Bones, interior of my “Cotswold Village Cottage” from Culprit, dress from Fifty Linden Fridays shopping, “Enchanted Woods Version 3” outside – free update from Studio Skye)
From my journal this morning:
August 18, 4:30 am
I feel ok psychologically despite being brain-fried from staying up too late in Second Life again….(skipping boring stuff)… I’m a little upset that one of my roommates is leaving at the end of this month. (She’s the one who ordered our WiFi, so we each pay a third.) But she can be a little annoying sometimes anyway.
Sunday morning, 9:45 am
I slept about 5 hours. I don’t remember my dreams.
I was just thinking there are different parts of my consciousness that push for different behaviors, and part of my job as a mature adult is to pick which part to follow. My depressed side might say, “I should kill myself.” My anxious side might say, ” I hate everybody” or “I hate myself” and might make me feel angry or crazy. My impulsive side (aka my Child side, Rat side or Id) wants to eat, play, and be a brat. (My desire to be snarky comes from a combination of anger and impulsiveness.) My “Higher Self” or “Angel” side wants me to be kind and helpful to others. It tries to envision myself as the best I could be, which is not necessarily possible in Real Life. It wants me to sacrifice my own desires and needs in order to help others, which is not always the most responsible thing to do. My responsible side wants to control and dominate all my other sides, but it’s hard to hear when my childish, anxious or depressed side is demanding center stage. It’s not healthy to only follow one side while trying to ignore all the others, but it’s my responsible side that keeps me employed, socially functional and safe.
My responsible side rules my behavior during my work week (except when I give in to unhealthy eating habits or negative thinking). My responsible side gets less control over my behavior on the weekend. It makes me wash my hair, go to the farmers market, do laundry, get food and gas for the week, take care of business, and go to bed at a reasonable time (usually). My childish, anxious or depressive sides make me want to escape into Second Life. Once I’m in SL, my responsible side makes me sort inventory, make notecards, and chat with other people, so it’s not totally absent. Generally speaking though, impulsive behavior reigns in Second Life .
This kind of Real Life avoidance dynamic is seen in cyberpunk Virtual Reality stories such as Neuromancer (William Gibson) and Ready Player One (Ernest Cline), but I didn’t notice it as strongly in Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson). Before Virtual Reality people escaped into books, sleep, sex, drug use, gambling, watching movies and TV. Virtual Reality escapism is probably closest to reading, TV escapism and gambling. Video gaming escapism is probably closest to gambling, because of the high people get when winning games with a perceived threat of loss. A VR sex addiction would be closer to a porn addiction. Exploring Second Life is closer to reading escapism. Building in SL is kind of like building models, crafting or creating visual art. Dressing our avatars is like a combination of shopping addiction and playing with dolls. (I refer to this as the “Virtual Barbies” side of SL play.)
I used to channel my “shopping therapy” into buying food and items at discount stores. Now I channel it into shopping at my local farmers market, at Grocery Outlet and in SL. When I feel like buying something might make me feel better, I no longer buy and give away used books, overstock my kitchen shelves, and seldom go out to buy new clothes for myself. There are a few things I buy impulsively in Real Life, but mostly I collect and sort free clothes, furnishings and other items in SL.
I don’t spend much money on SL, but I spend alot of time and mental focus on it. Spending $206 this year on three Premium accounts has provided me with a platform (virtual land and airspace) on which I can create a variety of virtual environments. I currently have a modest-sized virtual house, a roadside bit of woodlands with a nice waterfall and stream, a small laboratory, a small travel agency office, a good-sized park-like skybox platform, a virtual holodeck, and an isolated glass box skybox.
* A skybox is a thing that can only exist in Virtual Reality. It’s generally a box-like room in the virtual sky, isolated from other people and their created environments. It can also be a semi-enclosed platform or house, high in the sky, but allowing a view of other sky-structures. If a building is above the ground but close enough to see the land and let others see it from the land, it’s more likely a tree house or floating building than a real skybox. Skyboxes are inherently more isolated than ground-based structures. The closest Real Life equivalent would be a penthouse apartment or a cabin far away from civilization. *
The group chats and Instant Messages I get inside SL are my equivalent to regular social media. Instead of being bombarded by visual ads on my Facebook page or in my email, I get pop-up messages from my group chats and in Notices at the edge of my screen. Group chat windows can easily be closed and notices disappear from view in a few moments however, so they’re less annoying to me than ads on regular social media. They can be obnoxious during my first hour in SL, but then they can go nearly silent as I keep closing group chat windows that pop up.