Sea Change

First,  I have to do a better job of introducing @empsar – you’ll see why in a bit…

She’s a little older (and, conveniently, a little smaller) than I am.  We’re from opposite corners of this, our native state of Indiana, but have both lived in other parts of the country for most of our lives: cosmopolitan, if, you’ll pardon the phrase. She’s an emerita professor of informatics, a consummate research librarian with more interests than can be counted, and as smart as any six regular people put together — a true “meta” thinker.

Our relationship is more than a year old, but it could well be decades long. It’s a little like Toxic and Paul’s was, before they moved in together and got married (i.e., we live separately on opposite sides of the city), and it’s also very like Ghosty and Elora/Sivyaleah’s: we’re constantly in touch, mostly through Twitter. We talk about anything and everything, and never lose interest. We are, to the point, partners.

We found each other online. Then the emails started… and long before we met face-to-face, she understood me as Lalo, and calls me nothing else when we’re alone. For personal reasons, she is not an avatar. But because I talk effusively about my other friends — that is, you folks — she knows how important you are, and follows many of your Tweets and blogs with respect and admiration.

Which is what this post is about…

I recently posted about advice given to people with cancer to help them through some of the psychological upset the news, and the changes, inevitably bring (scroll down to where it says “EXPRESS”). That led to this: a Twitter DM exchange from a couple of nights ago, wherein we went meta on the subject:

Me: There is a sea change going on among my SL Tweeps – most of us are “of an age”. RL becomes prevalent, but we talk about it.

Emspar: And I believe it’s essential! Please don’t get me wrong; not everyone is at the same point on the empathy spectrum. :P

Emspar: Some of you are writing very powerful stuff re: RL — including ls/cm — that’s as compelling as you were writing about virtuality. It gladdens the heart.

Background: Remember our noob days, when we all seemed to vow that “SL is SL, and RL is RL, and never the twain shall meet”? Maybe the younger avvies (in biological age as well as… um, closer to noob) still do that, but in my Twitter stream, blogroll, and SL friend list, there’s been a personal integration across worlds. Some of it is subtle, like Honour MacMillan… some of it is overt, like Whiskey Day, Chestnut Rau and Darkness (@Ryannetta) Tigerpaw, and some is blatant, like Crap. We get older — catastrophic or not, the vagaries of organic life become impossible to ignore. We are who we are, in pixels and flesh, and it shows.

And it should.

And my sweetie’s heart is as gladdened by it as my own… You see, this isn’t about her, or us: it’s about you.


8 responses to “Sea Change

  1. This might be hard to believe – but I actually share more of myself through my avatar than I do in physical form and that ain’t much.:) I was just thinking though that I wish I had the ability (or desire) to express that which exists more deeply, such as you or Whiskey do.
    I’ll remain a more subtle spectator.

  2. I never really believed in the RL/SL split. I don’t know how to compartmentalize my lifet and I don’t want to do so.

    I am just glad we are able to support each other across the virtual/atomic divide.

    /me waves hello to @empsar

  3. First, Ghosty and I were are both incredibly touched to have been mentioned as influential to you Lalo, and we both thank you.

    I have never been able to separate my SL life from my RL. From the beginning, there was little role play involved for me. Elora (Sivyaleah on Twitter – which is my Hebrew name given at birth, is as old as my real life name and truly part of my identify) is me, albeit somewhat younger in appearance.

    I never hide behind her. I’ve always lived my life as an open book and feel if someone has the nerve to ask me a question, regardless of subject, then I have the nerve to answer it. I cross boundaries between worlds and when appropriate, enjoy meeting up in person with those who have special meaning to me, If I ever find myself in Indiana, it would be a great pleasure to meet you in person Lalo (but don’t get too excited, Indiana isn’t exactly on the top of my vacation list ROFL).

    The honesty, empathy and support which I’ve encountered between people I’ve met via this way has been remarkable. I only wish I could be more “there” for many of these people, you included, in a more meaningful way. Perhaps, however, this really is enough.

    <3 – Laurie

  4. It’s a shame that it often takes personal tragedy to move us to through our emotional barriers and reach out for connection. I’ve learned that my own walls were formed in very early childhood as a way to separate myself from the emotional pain of separation. Even though I’ve made a number of “breakthroughs” in my adult years, I almost always live in my head, not my heart; in my mind, not my body. Well, fuck. I need to do some work, don’t I. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Thank-you for your heartfelt personal sharing. My prayers and best wishes go out to you. I have read you from afar and always admired you. Now I admire your courage and would love for you to address just what courage is, and particularly how to cultivate it, in a blog post some time-if you are ever so inclined. I have never known how to develop courage in the face of personal physical challenge, and would love to hear from one who has.

  6. I suspect that there are a variety of reasons some of us have slipped across that SL/RL divide. Some folks never had a hard line drawn between them, while others did. But as our relationships have expanded beyond the borders of pixel-based worlds and into Twitter, etc., I have noticed the evolution. For some people, there are bigger, more visible steps taken than others, but for many it is a less noticeable evolution.

    I am a very (and probably sometimes dysfunctionally) private person, and there are things I can’t seem to share about myself and my life without sounding bitter or whiny. So I share the more superficial things and cheer for those of you who I admire so much for the strong, graceful way that navigate challenges I cannot face with such strength. I don’t tell any of you often enough how much I admire you.

    The virtual community is an amazing one for lending support. The Richard Bach quote “Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof” applies. The longer we go on, and the more we share, the more we knit together into a family, it seems.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It’s a good reminder to try to be better about sharing my own.

  7. Honour: Not so subtle that I didn’t pick it up :) In fact, it may have been my biggest clue to the sea change, because of its very subtlety.

    Chestnut, Feline, & Botgirl: I, too, was never a believer in the wall between worlds. Shape-changing pixels and pseudonymity aside, WYSIWYG is my rule in chat & IM (later, blog & Twitter). I’ve learned, especially lately: One can reveal one’s true self while protecting one’s “wallet identity”… and discover people care about who you are, not what you’re called.

    Sivyaleah: I have so many avatar friends in NJ and NY; chances are more likely we’ll meet there, than here in Flyover Country ;)

    Bay: You pose an extremely difficult question, to which I first replied “How do I tell someone how to find their ‘center’, something I’ve always had?” So let me tell you a story instead, while hoping it doesn’t sound too facetious:

    My favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz”; my favorite character in it is the Cowardly Lion. He’s had the courage all along — we all do.

  8. First, my hopes and prayers are with you, the real person on the other side of the pixels.

    And yes, I took the pledge over five years ago. And I’ve endeavored to maintain the membrane separating SL from RL. However, and to your point, that membrane has changed over the years. Nonetheless, I beleive the decision to keep SL and RL separate is different for each individual, based on real life desires and considerations.

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