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What I’m about to say has been said before, by others — but I’m going to say it anyway:
Forget “Second” and “first”: Life is Life. The nature of the media through which a life is lived is irrelevant to the quality and significance of that life. Are words only authentic when spoken, and not when they’re typed on a screen? Can you only touch someone’s emotions if you can touch their skin with yours? People care about you, more than you may be willing to contemplate. If something happens to you in the organic part of your life that prevents you from returning to the virtual, people who care about you will be left to wonder and worry.
Make a connection between your virtual life and your organic life. Do this in the name of — and with proper respect for — your relationships with people you only interact with online.
I am inspired to this, on a Sunday morning, by a concatenation of two other people’s words. One is Charlanna Beresford, who recently blogged in “Two Times One Minus One” about integrating SL and RL, with the vital subtext of authenticity. She was not — as she eventually felt the need to reiterate in the comments — talking about divulging details of identity like name, address, and phone number. She was talking about abandoning the false dichotomy, the pretense that your avatar is a tabula rasa, the belief that somehow you can turn off, ignore, omit the “youness” of you when in-world. Her opening conjecture makes that clear: “[T]he more people have to work to keep their first and second lives separate, the shorter their second life.”
My second inspiration comes from Skate Foss, whose friend (and estate manager) abruptly stopped logging in to SL more than two weeks ago. Here’s Skate’s tweet from this morning:
Now 17 days, my friend Rosario Carbetta -missing from #SL -She owns a huge store & has many close friends, can’t believe she can just vanish
Previous tweets have included the only other information Skate seems to have about Rosario: she lives in (or near) The Hague, Netherlands.
I want to make this clear: I’m not talking about who gets your stuff, like in this November 2009 article from the New York Times. Your possessions, whether physical or pixel, are — pardon the pun — immaterial. The primary considerations should be: the effect your presence has on others, and the impact your sudden absence will have on them.
So, make a connection. Trust someone. Create a channel so that everyone who cares about you can know what’s happened if — inevitably, when — you suddenly disappear from among them. Stop pretending that the ones you see on the screen are “just pixels”… Stop pretending that the you you see on the screen is just pixels.
And now I need to follow my own advice.
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