The fine art of ragequit
So, the interviewees saw the true side of the people they chose to get involved with in SL. Having lived (presumably) in fishbowls where the wickedness of the world could not reach them, they saw (and still do!) RL through thick, rose-tinted glasses, believing that people around them are all nice, with no nastiness in them – this “gifted” them with the sort of naivety that would get one in extremely serious trouble in RL, had they found themselves trying to survive on their own. And when they thrusted themselves headlong into SL, they found themselves in a world where societal conventions and demands are irrelevant and people express their emotions and urges far more freely than they do in RL.
And what did they do? They went in full-on denial mode. They said “no, these people here in SL are not real, they’re only pretending.” Pretending what exactly? Were they pretending when they mistreated others? Of course not! They were merely showing their true colours and hanging them proudly and visibly on the mast for all to see. Yet, our naive friends chose to close their eyes to this (admittedly very ugly) reality. This led to the following: instead of coming to terms with the fact that, when cut free from societal constraints and the fear of consequences and accountability, those who are inclined to wrong and mistreat others will do so with far fewer hesitations than they normally would, instead of ditching those partners and creating a new circle of friends, they deluded themselves into thinking that “this is not real” and that “it’s just a game”, even while they were still deeply involved. This ineffective defence mechanism, of course, didn’t really do much to protect them. Instead, it prolonged abusive relationships that should have ended long ago and, of course, it prolonged their suffering within a relationship that was characterised by codependency, a situation all too common in RL – and hey, if it happens a lot in RL, why wouldn’t it happen in SL too?
And, really, SL is not “just a game” as so many people (including yours truly) have pointed out. Behind the avatars are real people, with real desires, feelings, insecurities, personality flaws etc. And the feelings and reactions observed in SL are often very genuine and very real. Yes, people in SL are very likely to be showing their true colours – much more so than they would (and should) be expected in RL, where they often have to suppress their urges, desires and feelings.
So, what was the next step? Ragequit. They went out of SL and placed the blame on SL itself, not on the people they were involved with and on themselves for choosing to stick around with them. And, of course, they went on Facebook, where “people are real”.
To be honest, I’ve seen this kind of attitude before. Several people I’ve either known personally in SL or have known through their content creation work also ragequit, because (a) they sought relationships that would extend into RL and their partners didn’t want that, (b) they started affairs that lasted until one day the other person ditched her account and either quit SL altogether or started over with a new account (perhaps to avoid someone’s clinginess, methinks). And they went public with it, accusing their former lovers of pretty much everything but JFK’s murder – on any platform they could: SL forums, their personal profiles, their blogs, etc. Uh… And exactly how is this not vindictive and malicious? But I digress…
The nature of SL relationships
One could say (Aria certainly did – in a comment to Gwyn) that in RL, relationships are largely activity-based and we spend a lot of time with each other, without really communicating and so, we may end up spending significant amounts of time with people that are not compatible with us, because this lack of proper communication prevents us from seeing what they really are all about. On the other hand, in SL our relationships depend entirely on communication; so, we end up disillusioned by people that are incompatible with us much quicker, because their true colours become evident sooner.
This is an interesting perspective and it hits a very important point. In RL, we often don’t really communicate – instead, we just do things (activities) and experience feelings that are awakened by the sharing of these activities. SL, on the other hand really does depend a lot more on communication, because we can’t reach out to touch the other person, to hold them. We see avatars in various poses and animations; we see – let’s be blunt about it for a bit – pixels on a screen. For any relationship to develop in SL, communication is beyond vital. Sure, you can click on pose balls all you want. You won’t evoke feelings that way. You won’t inspire affection, desire, love, lust, tenderness, want, yearning.
It’s no surprise that the most successful sex workers in SL are the ones that are more eloquent, more descriptive, more skilled in the art of creating a scene, a mood and an emotionally and sexually charged atmosphere than others and not just the ones that look “hotter” – everyone can look sexy in RL. So, in sex and romance in SL, it’s not all about how you look, but mostly about how you write or, if you use voice chat, how you talk. It is because of this requirement that is placed on SL sex workers that the most successful ones are also prolific writers, have well-written blogs and, whenever they host “serious” discussion events, they’re quite interesting.
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