December 19, 2008

Peer group pressure, social obligations and the loss of innocence

A few days ago, Eshi Otawara did a large event revealing her latest fashion line. I met Eshi once or twice, IMed with her a few times more. We are loosely connected through groups we are both members in and by joint friends - I was sympathetic to her cause and hardship she experienced since her husband passed away. I once outbid her at an auction. She once gave me a preview version of a shirt she designed, and I gifted her with some GREENE concept furniture. I quite like her as a genuine and creative person. In short, paying her the honors by visiting her show would be the natural thing to do, and in fact a few people asked whether I go - assuming I would.

I did not. I felt paying Eshi the honors would be overshadowed of this being a "who is who in SL" event. It got even explicitly mentioned to me that this would be a good opportunity to "be seen". I had a lot of things on my mind - my first life is challenging as ever, my second life a bit overshadowed too. And I just was not in the mood to attend a social event, to maintain relationships, to network. Instead I sat in my SL office and brooded, was in bad mood, felt compelled, even obliged to attend this event. Eventually, I got saved by a friend who needed a guinea pig to test a new product, and I had a fun hour with her, and later two fun hours with Trin and Aimee.

Fun. It's rare in SL these days. It feels as if my SLife is as full with obligations as my first life. Mostly business obligations, followed by social obligations. They consume my time, they consume my attention, they consume my mood. When was the last time I met someone new? When was the last time I went exploring? When was the last time I made a new friend? When was the last time I helped a newbie? When was the last time I got involved in a new project? When was the last time I went to a club, a concert?

The other day, out of a whim, I rezzed a rarely used business alt. I wanted to check a few things out, but wanted to avoid group IM's and a few notecards waiting for me. Suddenly I found myself in a rather busy place, with a group of new residents, and before long, I showed a few newbies the ropes and had some real fun and interesting talk with them. Of course they all offered friendship, and I felt bad for removing them secretly again as I wanted to keep the alt clean. The bottom line, however, is that I felt free and unburdened for the first time in weeks if not months. And for a split second, it seemed an appealing idea to have Peter Stindberg commit SLuicide, and to start over new, rediscover the magic new.

I wonder where and when my SLife has lost its innocence? And I wonder how I can get the fun and the magic back.

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