Playing With Dolls

paper dollsPerhaps 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.

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6 responses to “Playing With Dolls

  1. I’ve always thought of SL as another way to “play Barbies”, as my girlfriends and I used to say some 40 or 45 very odd years ago. We dressed them up and moved them around, but that was only Part I. Next we had to concoct some interesting story for our Barbies – a hot date with Ken, or a trip to some exotic land with little sister, Skipper, or – my favorite plot line – a secret wedding! Silly, yes. But also helpful in letting us explore parts of real life that were more safely explored that way. Maybe SL does the same.

    I wonder if the same parts of our brains “light up” for SL life, as they do for RL life?

  2. This is a voice from the not-too-distant past. As always, what a thoughtful, interesting piece of writing. Yes, I agree there is a profound and transportive quality to SL and never did I experience that more than in speaking with you. I don’t say that to be fawning but to explain my own experience in that world. And to me that is the key – perhaps in RL as well as in SL: it is unlikely to have those profound and transportive qualities as a solitary act but instead is manifested while interacting with others who are sharing in the experience. It is likely why people tend to worship together or to engage in other spiritual quests with others. The notion of the solitary monk or mountain climber or whatever is overdrawn; it is plumbing the depths of our collective experience that is far more powerful – and that takes on new dimensions with tools like SL.

    • Great to hear from you, Fritz. Miss you. I so agree that colliding with fascinating minds and words is the most compelling experience in any dimension of life. What value Beauty unless, as you say, it is shared? Dissonance — SL is quite rich on that score too — can also be a teacher.

  3. I agree that SL is very much like playing with dolls (or action figures for us guys). And it follows that it is the human animating the avatar that provides the true fascination. Any kid can attest that playing with your action figures by themselves pales in comparison to having a group dynamic. As rich and complex as is the SL canvas on which we play, it still comes up as rather hollow and plastic when the interaction of other people is lacking.

    After a year of SL experience, it now seems to me to almost be like a ongoing global costume party, our avatars are our costumes. It is a wonderful thing, especially for an introverted person like me. I could never have imagined such a thing 10 years ago. I can only guess as to how such worlds will expand as technology advances.

    But I come back again to the spirits who breath life into the avatars, without you SL would be lifeless. I am very grateful for the friends that I have made in-world.

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