Life is messy, frustrating and often annoying. Second Life (virtual reality) can also be messy, frustrating and annoying. We develop coping mechanisms to deal with real life problems. We can also develop coping mechanisms for dealing with our virtual lives.
One of the most common problems for people who play in SL is managing their inventory. Our real life equivalent might be cleaning our house, but in this virtual world in which we can have nearly unlimited possessions, the tasks of finding and getting rid of things can seem like the unending tortures of classical mythology. One rule of Second Life is that it’s always easier to accumulate stuff than to get rid of it.
I’m a Virgo, so I try to maintain some order in my inventory by creating folders and sub-folders for my stuff. “Clothing” is a pre-set folder. Some of my sub-folders within it are “Mesh Dresses – Spring/Summer”, “Tops”, “Pants”, “Lingerie” and “Historical”. I indicate outfits that fit my Maitreya mesh body by adding ” – M* to the end of folder titles. For my male alt, I’ve started adding “- O*” to the end of folders that contain Omega appliers. I have several “To Sort” folders that are always full of things I haven’t sorted yet, though. One of them is just for things I’ve accumulated on various hunts, each hunt with it’s own folder, and each titled with the name, month and year of the hunt. Within those folders, I now make sub-folders for “Clothing”, “Body Parts”, “Buildings & Furnishings”, and “Miscellaneous”. After I’ve finished a hunt and unpacked the prizes, these sub-folders can then be easily moved into their proper folders in the main part of my inventory.
Another common problem is finding balance between doing things we need to do in real life and spending time (and sometimes money) in Second Life. Time, money and energy are the 3 main resources we need to balance in Life. Doing all work and no play is mentally and emotionally exhausting, so we need to find time for things we enjoy in our lives, but not at the expense of things that need to be done to maintain our lives. It’s nice to be able to spend money inworld – which helps support creators and sim owners, – but we may also need to budget how much we can afford to spend on leisure activities. I’ve been active in SL for enough years that I’m pretty much an expect now on finding good freebies and figuring out how to live nearly free inworld, but for people who are new to SL, it’s easy to spend more money than one can really afford.
Getting rid of old inventory – especially ugly clothes, sculpted furniture, and dead Landmarks – seems to be a good way to reduce the inventory nightmare, but sorting always takes time. Using the “Sort – by date” option at the top of one’s Inventory can help get rid of older items, but one will probably still want to pull items out or try on clothes before deciding if they should be deleted or not. Boxing up seasonal items is a good way to reduce inventory. Clicking on “About Landmark”, then deleting dead LMs without having to teleport to them is a great time-saver too.
One technique I’ve used is to focus on reducing the amount of one kind of item at a time. When you’re trying on clothes or skins, you’re avatar is probably going to be naked for a good part of that time. When you’re checking out old LM’s you don’t want to teleport naked to most places, so these types of inventory sorting and deleting need to be done separately. Once you have most of your eyes or skins sorted, it’s also pretty easy to try on just those items and just keep the ones you like best.
Another technique that helps me is to have several alts for different purposes, each with their own style of clothing. My main avatar is Persephone, who has something like 60, 000 items in inventory, including many unopened packages. Because she’s my main, she has most of my buildings, furniture, landscaping, textures and building stuff. Alycia is my goth girl, so I try to get her only clothes and items that fit her style. For instance, I tell myself she likes clothes in black, grey, and blue, tights and leggings, short dresses, long sweaters, and ripped ballerina outfits. She also likes witchy stuff, skulls and dark, ironic messages on shirts, but she doesn’t like vampire stuff. Tasha is primarily my wolf-girl, so she doesn’t need much clothing and stuff. Since I model her on my wolf-dog who passed, I try to get her clothes mostly in white, beige and fur, and nothing too sexy or revealing. These alts have pretty established looks, so Alycia only wears pale skin with dark or brightly dyed hair, while Tasha has pale skin and is blonde. Persephone uses a few normal human skins that fit a middle-aged look, but also wears non-human, wild-colored skin like blue or green when I feel like presenting as an alien.
If you sometimes want to get away from people inworld, having alts is a good way to do this. Maybe sometimes you want to be social, but other times you just want to build or explore. Your main avatar can have friends and be social, but your alt might be an animal who can’t talk or an antisocial person who doesn’t feel like talking to people. Animal avatars don’t need clothes, so an animal alt won’t need to collect a bunch of inventory. Segregating different alts for your different moods can thus help you to allocate and use your time in SL to *your* best advantage. If you design clothes, you may want an alt that’s your model. That’s how I ended up with a male alt. Going into SL as someone who’s different than your usual real life self, can also reveal parts of your psyche that may not otherwise be obvious to you. For instance, my main avatar tends to be more respectable and responsible, but Alycia says and does what she wants, doesn’t worry about seeming weird, has become a representation of my survivor side.
Maintaining order in our real lives often requires us to keep to a fairly established and respectable persona, but in a virtual world like SL, order can be established by segregating the more unusual or extreme sides of our psyche into different types of roleplay or visual self-expression. If you’re feeling alienated or angry in real life, it’s perfectly ok to dress as an alien or ax-murderer in SL. The rules of social behavior are different in SL than in RL. There are rules, but how we dress is far, far more open in SL. It’s still not ok to annoy or abuse other people, but within certain roleplay venues it is acceptable to play the role of someone who is annoying or abusive. Boundaries are more flexible in SL than in RL, but they still need to be established between the individuals involved.
If you play in SL or other virtual worlds, how do you maintain order and balance for yourself in these worlds? Please feel free to comment below.