May 26, 2010

Of voids

Do I still have readers after more than 2 months of silence? Two months of silence. Almost 10 weeks of not blogging. That seemed unthinkable a while ago. But I was not only lazy with blogging; I was barely online in SL as well. Having been reliably online daily for the better part of 3 years, nowadays I can only been found in-world once or twice a week. So what happened?

What happened is that I have a new RL job.

"Oh!", you may think now, "This new job keeps you busy and you have to impress your new boss with loads of overtime and 140% commitment!"

No, that is not it. Of course the job keeps me busy, but it does not come with an extra investment in time. What happened however is that this job fills a void that previously got filled by SL.

Regular readers of my ramblings might remember that I often mentioned a certain hardship in my RL. A close family member suffers from a medical condition - which overshadows my life. In addition to that, my (old) RL job has turned into a nightmare during the past three years. I was trapped between a rock and a hard place, and before I found SL I was pretty much depressive. I was on a bad path, and I lacked many, many things in my RL. Respect. Appreciation. Peace. Success. Financial freedom. Companionship. Trust. Tenderness. Love.

I got all this from SL. And plenty of it.

You might think this is pathetic. I tend to think it saved my life one way or the other. For a few hours each day I found what I was craving for. I found peace. I found respect. I enjoyed success and financial freedom. At the same time that my abusive RL boss tried psychological warfare on me and told me how much I suck at what I do - I established and built the leading text service provider in SL. While I got told that the work I did the last 10 years was a piece of shit, that I suck at marketing, that I suck at selling, that I suck at networking - nonetheless I became a boss in SL myself, a business partner of some of the biggest names in SL, got a certain public exposure, got nominated as social butterfly, got nominated twice as Entrepreneur of the Year, became a SL Solution Provider.

Cynics might suggest that I had better invested this energy on my RL job. And maybe they are right. But talk is cheap, and I had the impression I was fighting a losing battle anyways - which got confirmed by friends and family. People, who had no reason to lie to me.

After a specifically abusive incident in late summer 2009 I finally had enough and started looking for a new job. My family situation made me reluctant to give up the security of my old job (as bad as it might have been - it seemed secure). Getting my CV in order and browsing job listings gave me new energy. I became bolder in job applications; I became less intimidated in my old job. And finally I found a new job.

And then something unexpected happened. The significance SL had for my life dropped overnight.

I started my new job - and did not log into SL for almost a week. I was so energized for my new job, and I was so stunned (in a positive way) of the new tasks, the new projects, and the new challenges.... I sat on my couch in the evening, totally exhausted (in a good way), and read, watched TV or played Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe - a vintage computer game.

To be honest, I feared I was addicted to SL. It was both a relieving as well as a strange realization that I am not addicted at all!

Recent research suggests that there is no such thing as addiction. That it is only stimulation and fulfillment of needs, and as soon as the needs get fulfilled in another way, the addiction vanishes. I am a prime example for this. I had the need for a respectful, appreciative environment. I did not get it in my RL, but found it in SL. So I became addicted to SL. Now I work for a company that WANTS me, that CHOSE me out of countless applicants, that NEEDS my skills, that WANTS my creativity, that gives me freedom, recognition and trust - and by this fills the void that SL used to fill.

No, don't worry, this is not another of those "I am leaving SL" posts.

I have no intention to leave SL. I like SL. It is still an environment in which I want to relax (and yes, running two businesses IS relaxing for me) , in which I have friends. However I need to reassess my time - and plan it better. Right now I am thinking of setting aside one evening for my SL-businesses, and another evening for fun, meeting friends, exploring. There are lots of things to do: I want to relocate Babel and create a small creative plaza with my friends Nissa and Ivanova. I want to pick up photography again, and - having worked with digital video some years ago - finally try machinima in SL. I neglected my social life, and I want to WIN Entrepreneur of the Year this time.

It is actually a nice feeling. Now that the subtle pressure of filling a void is gone, I can look at SL from a new angle. SL gave me a lot over the past 3 years, now it is a new chapter in my relationship with SL, and I look forward what it can give me at this stage.