What must it be like to live a second life in a virtual world where you can be whoever and whatever you want to be? For my Self & Society in Virtual Contexts class, I was able to find out.
What is Second Life?
Second life is a popular computer program that allows you to create an avatar that looks however you want
it to look, and even be whatever you want it to be. You have the choice to make yourself completely opposite of who you may be in real life or to keep your appearance similar to yourself. In Second Life, your avatar can fly, shop, meet new people, travel to “new worlds”, attend events, and even create relationships with other avatars.
For my avatar, I chose to make it look similar to the way I look in real life. I gave her long dark hair, with a similar body type and facial structure to my own. I think i chose to do this because I am still new to Second Life and I wanted to just keep my appearance simple.
Learning the Ins & Outs
Upon first setting up my account, I tried to figure out the way the “world” works. It took me some time to get the hang of how to truly modify your avatar to make it more personalized. I didn’t realize how many capabilities you actually have in regards to your avatar. It took me about 2 sessions over the course of two days to really figure out the basics of the program. They make it possible to change every single facial feature possible if you so choose. I then tried to figure out how exactly to navigate throughout the land. I found it easy to walk, run and move around but in order to go places where there are other people, I was able to teleport to different destinations. In the beginning I found myself in areas of Second Life that didn’t have many people at all.
I found it strange how people communicate in Second Life. Some people are really friendly while others don’t even answer your messages. To be honest, I don’t blame the people who don’t answer. There are a lot of strange people in Second Life and it is so easy to be “catfished” being that there are no real pictures of people. However, I found my friends Charlie & Amy in the Winter Festival event.
The Future of Second Life
After experiencing Second Life first hand, I honestly don’t know how long of a lifespan it will have. Personally, it isn’t really something that I could see myself continuing to use. However, people who are really into gaming, meeting other people online, and those who enjoy spending time on the computer for these purposes really love Second Life. The Second Life community seems to take the program very seriously. Some people even made careers out of creating stores on second life and converting the “Linden” (Second Life dollar) into american money.
With social media and online platforms becoming more and more popular, it could be that Second Life stays very relevant and continues to thrive among people online. Be that as it may, I still prefer to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Weighing My Personal Pros & Cons
When looking at my Second Life experience, there were things that I thought were pretty cool. I think that the fact that your capabilities are almost endless in the game is a really interesting feature. In my opinion, this is the reason why people get so caught up in it. The fact that it is as limitless as it can be for an online game, I feel that people put so much of their time and energy into this “second life” of theirs online. Being that they are able to construct themselves to be
whatever and whoever they want to be allows people to feel a sense of excitement in their daily lives that they may feel they are lacking.
For me unfortunately, I didn’t feel this way. I tend to be very cautious when it comes to online games and even social media. I don’t like to really talk with people I don’t know and interact online with people I’ve never met before. If I was introduced to it earlier on in life, I might feel differently but now being that there are so many social media sites and apps that are so regularly used amongst so many people, I don’t feel like Second Life is a necessity to me.
Don’t Knock It ‘Till You Try It
Although my Second Life experience wasn’t really as thrilling as I imagined it would be, I still encourage others to try it out. I can imagine that everyone has a different type of experience in Second Life because there are so many different destinations and people to talk with. Just because I haven’t found it to be “for me”, I still plan on attempting to try and learn more about it.