Virtually Speaking

Second Life along with the First.

Lonely Dreamers

First things first.  Thanks to everyone who has given me feedback on this blog.  It not only gives me encouragement to keep yammering, it can also give me fodder for even more yammering. 

In my last entry, I touched on how easy it was to be deceitful online and how sometimes our cyber lives may not match up with the reality of our day to day existence.  That’s both a good and bad thing.  Bad because of the opportunities for cheating and also for the tendency of certain personality types to allow their fantasy lives to overtake them.  But there is a good side to it, too, and that’s today’s topic.

I tried to do a mental count of the number of marriages I know of that began as an online acquaintance.  There was one couple who lived 2,500 miles apart – he in California, she in New York.  They met online, became close and eventually arranged to meet offline.   When they adjourned to his hotel room they discovered they were both carrying sidearms (just in case the other one was an axe murderer, I suppose) – but instead of allowing it to frighten them, it’s become a standing joke about how they met.  He ended up moving to New York to be with her and they married.

Then there was the couple I’ll call “Jen and Bruce”.  Bruce lived in the U.S. midwest.  Jen was an Australian.  After a few months of online flirtation, Bruce flew to Sydney to meet her, they fell in love, and she now is a U.S. resident 9,200 miles later.

Most recently, however, is a couple I consider to be good friends – “W” for close to ten years, “L” for the year and a half I’ve been in Second Life.  W and L met at a Tringo game and hit it off.  There ensued what I would call a torrid affair in the most romantic, sweet sense of that phrase.   The problem was that he lived in England.  She was a Canadian.  Both of them opined to me that they felt the whole thing might be hopeless due to over 3,000 miles of ocean between them.  Auntie Cin urged them to meet, and meet soon – and today, she’s living in the UK.  They just had their firstborn, an adorable little girl.

The common thread in these three experiences is that people can meet online and form meaningful relationships.  Whether it goes offline or not depends on the couple and their personal situation, but it can happen.

I remember as a young girl, growing up in a small rural town, realizing that the entire student body of my  high school was barely enough to populate one lecture hall at a major college.  My circle of friends was thus small, my social experience stunted, the “eligible” guys very limited.  I often fantasized about a way to have that sort of contact with thousands or even millions of people — this was when the internet was still a Defense Department project and I’d never heard of it.  Little did I know that the very thing I dreamed of would one day become a reality.   The list of friendships I’ve made from all over the world is staggering when I think about it.   Is the quality of my feelings for any of these people less because we may never have met in person?  No.

About a month ago, my friend Wildefire Walcott crafted an amazing post over on Second Citizens’ forum.  It’s well worth a read.   An excerpt:

I have a make-believe home in a make-believe world, but in a year’s time I’ve felt real joy and love, real jealousy and heartbreak. After I say goodnight to my avatar friends I return to them in my sleep where they live and breathe like I do. When I awake from these dreams I’m sometimes disappointed to find it was all in my head, but I’m pleased to have had the thoughts at all. My memories are a part of me, a part of my life. Contrary to what the cynics will tell you, Second Life isn’t a substitute for real life- it’s a supplement.

In so few eloquent words, I think Wildefire has captured the essence of my childhood dream.  Not only are my social horizons opened beyond visual range, but my dreams are now deeper and richer with possibilities.   If anything, the reality of the internet today makes my youthful imaginings seem … well, unimaginative.

I may have made it sound in my last post like cyberspace was a dangerous place full of charade and treachery.  That’s like saying the Autobahn has a few potholes.  Of more interest to us should be the fact that human beings — we mammalian creatures who require community, affirmation and acceptance — now have a tool that provides us with those things in boundless amounts.   Three thousand miles or ten thousand miles are no longer a barrier to getting close.   Online, even though our facial expressions and body language may not be visible, our essential personality still comes through.  We are still ‘us’.  Given a time span equivalent to the growth of a 3D relationship (a few months), and usually you’re going to know everything important about your cyberbuddy or online lover.  I’ve had friends tell me that they were amazed on meeting a long-time online friend how much they matched the personality they’d seen in chat rooms.

I stand before you today as a witness to the power and reality of online relationships.   I had thought I was leading a pretty mundane, content existence until I joined Second Life.  There, I’ve had my world shaken to its core in amazing ways; my heart touched more deeply than I ever thought possible by one woman.  It hasn’t always been easy since we’ve agreed to keep things online out of respect for my offline situation.  But that hasn’t made the reality of our feelings any less powerful, nor dimmed the thrill of hearing her voice on Skype.  We give each other the support and affirmation everyone needs.  We give each other the assurance that we are not alone after all, even without physical contact.   To love and be loved begins inside us, in our minds and hearts.   That’s what is conveyed over the tiny copper wires of our computers and cable modems.  

I consider myself one of Wildefire’s “lonely dreamers”, and I’ve found my other home in Second Life.   Home, after all, is where the heart is.

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December 13, 2006 - Posted by | Second Life

6 Comments »

  1. Hey, Cin. Nice post!

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post. SL has enriched my life and given me an outlet for things within me that had just about whithered and died. I feel more complete these days. My Real Life is wonderful and happy, if somewhat constrained. My Second Life opens the doors to some of those compromises we all make and allows me to explore and express myself in ways I thought lost, without risk to my family, marriage or job.

    While the world is filled with people who lie and cheat as a rule, In SL, the Lindens have made it easy, even appealing to indulge our baser instincts. Get an alt fsck someone over. Lie about who we are. Become a griefer. That’s all out there, easily done.

    However, with it being *so* easy to lie and cheat, I find myself feeling it is even more important to be true, honest and open. I find that by there being no safeguards, it becomes critical to be honest with others. Your word once again becomes soley YOUR responsibility. Yours to either trash or make stand. But the only person who will really ever know is.. you!

    Curse you, Lindens. This Lab Rat is appalled, fascinated, trapped and (grudgingly)enjoying your little social experiments.

    –Dash

    Comment by Dash Curry | December 13, 2006 | Reply

  2. >”We give each other the assurance that we are not alone after all, even without physical contact. To love and be loved begins inside us, in our minds and hearts. That’s what is conveyed over the tiny copper wires of our computers and cable modems. ”

    So very true and eloquently put. :)

    Comment by Allana Dion | December 15, 2006 | Reply

  3. […] Please take a look at LONELY DREAMERS by Cindy on here blog Virtually Speaking […]

    Pingback by Second By Second » Another Excellent article by Cindy Claveau | December 15, 2006 | Reply

  4. Cindy,
    Such a pleasure to have read this…especially as a normally cynical 28 year old city girl…I just didnt expect to be able to really have such a deep and emotional Second Life..But being your friend after metting you a year ish ago has proven what you just said over and over again…I love you Sweden and I just cant imagine either life without you…BAH SO CHEESY I AM :D

    Comment by haver | December 16, 2006 | Reply

  5. […] what’s the point of this blog entry? I read a rather old post on Cindy’s blog, and I think it deserves reproducing as many times as possible.  See, for the longest time, I […]

    Pingback by How come you no call me no more? « SecondLife Tweeze | April 29, 2007 | Reply

  6. EXCELLENT post!

    I subscribe every word in that excerpt

    Comment by Ana Lutetia | May 16, 2007 | Reply


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