Perhaps many of you, (well, OK, all two of you who may read this blog), get this reaction when you try to explain the profound and transportive experience of Second Life. It’s like playing with dolls. Well, I was a little girl once and really did enjoy playing with dolls. Mostly paper dolls as it happens, which is interesting in view of my future digital concerns. As with so much of childhood, there comes a moment when these pursuits are no longer encouraged. Otherworldly concerns are no longer appropriate.
Obviously the pleasure I took in arranging these magical and adaptable (if a bit flat!) images never left me because they have burst out in full bloom within Second Life. There is another force here as well. I was the kind of child who dearly loved any book where the children (it’s always the children) speak a spell or open a door and enter another world. E. Nesbitt, C.S. Lewis, Edward Eagar, I adored them all. Second Life in all its splendor, danger and glory, is indeed that world for me. As anyone knows who has experienced real emotion there, amidst a supposed bunch of pixels, this ain’t no fake world.
Is there value in leaving the too-solid world behind? I can’t prove it, but I believe there is indeed a real benefit, one that adults have been, in the main, prohibited from experiencing. (Remember when Aslan tells Susan she’s too old to ever return to Narnia?) Mysticism, meditation and hallucenogenic drugs touch on this same territory. It’s a question of perspective. Using SL terminology, is it valuable to ‘cam out’ — way out! to look back upon your life and being in the solid world, from a place where those rules do not hold? Undoubtedly.