May 12, 2009

A letter to Martin, who does not "get" SL

[This is a letter written to the webmaster/friend of my friend Rheta, who brought us the news about her death yesterday. In my email exchanges with him he persists on saying "playing SL" and similar phrases, so I tried to explain SL to him.]

Good morning,

I hope you found some sleep after the shocking day yesterday. Let me give you a big thank you again for your help. You rendered an important service to the friends of Rheta. Even if this may sound bizarre to you, for us the "parallel world" as you keep naming it is very real. Unfortunately it happens frequently that someone vanishes, leaving friends and also lovers behind you martyr their brains and hearts not knowing what is up. We even have a special word for this, the "Big Quiet". Even though the message you gave us was heartbreakingly shocking, nevertheless it brought closure. Doubts and tormenting was ended and made room to healing suffering.

If you allow I would like to tell you a bit about Second Life. I googled you and even though you seem to be a "normal" person, your business has to do with dream worlds and fantasy worlds as well. I hope you might understand a little bit what I tell you.

With very little exceptions I have only met people in Second Life who have more or less severe issues in the "atomic world" as we call it. In my case it is a son with a mental condition overshadowing my whole family. One of my SL friends is confined to a wheelchair and has to hear on a daily basis that she ruined someone's life. Two of my friends suffer from autism and can only communicate freely with people in SL. One of my friends is a pre-op transgender and uses SL to be the woman she can't be in the atomic world yet. Another of my friends is the victim of multiple rapes and barely leaves her home, not to mention have social contact with men - in SL she can. I could continue this list endlessly. In Rheta's case it was probably the D/s lifestyle and her bisexuality she could not live in the atomic world due to respect for her family/husband or social norm or job repercussions or whatever. For each of us - as well as for Rheta - SL is the way to live things we could not live in the atomic world, or an escape from pressure and hardship. SL is our oasis, in which we find 1-2 hours peace and happiness a day.

One might think this is pathetic. One might think we are people poor on feelings, seeing no other way than an artificial surrogate. Maybe it is true. And surely there are people among us who lose themselves in this world, who don't find the balance. But for us residents of Second Life, for us who we LIVE in this world, it is an extension of our reality.

Thank you for listening.
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