How Second Life can help achieve 2015 New Year’s resolutions

How Second Life can help achieve 2015 New Year’s resolutions

The blank canvas of a desert is so alluring in the same way that a new year beckons. In true New Year’s fashion my resolutions often include insights and pushes towards the things that are getting quotidian short shrift.

And so here I am venturing back into Second Life, after a long absence, feeling compelled to heed the call of the creative possibilities that it promises.

I had so much fun shooting this desert photo shoot. The minimal desert contrasts so nicely with voluminous finery. Even flexi dresses that usually seem cheap and overdone really shine in this stark space. The bareness of the background mirrors the calendar that many of us are currently planning for the next year. All that space invites us to wonder what we can be, do and have if we set our minds to it.

So 2015, wow. What’s next?

As part of my annual preparation to welcome in the new year I am deep into my desires.

How Second Life can help achieve 2015 New Year’s resolutions

I have long followed (and gotten all my friends to follow) the work of Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map which turns typical goal setting on its head. Instead of setting random goals, Desire Mapping gets you to really explore the feelings you desire to feel, and then has you isolate 5-7 words that crystallise those feelings. You then design your goals around activities that are chosen to help you feel those feelings. It’s a hotline to feeling the way that you want to feel, instead of putting unreliable intermediaries (fast car, new job, large house, hot body) in the driver’s seat.

LaPorte feels that we often get it backwards. We typically set goals without investigating the feelings that we are actually after. Generally this traditional goal setting method can lead to a lack of fulfilment. You might get the hot bod or the new job, but it’s very likely you don’t end up feeling the way that you expected. One doesn’t often lead to the other.

We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have, get, accomplish, and experience outside of ourselves. And we hope, yearn, pray that we’ll be fulfilled when we get there. It’s backwards. It’s outside in. And it’s running us in circles. – Danielle LaPorte

How Second Life can help achieve 2015 New Year’s resolutions

Preparing for a new year based on how you want to feel is more direct and satisfying. When I looked at some of my old goals a few years ago, I realised that my core desired feelings were not likely to follow from the goals I had set for myself at the time.

Each year I reflect on how I want to feel. My core desired feelings (CDF) have changed a bit year on year but they generally stay within a family that includes feelings of authenticity, freedom, joy, connection, growth and play. The words you choose are very personal, and you go through a process of honing down semantically to the words that push your own buttons and truly light you up inside. You need to not simply think about these words. You need to feel them in your gut.

My core desired feelings for 2015:

  • Playful (P)
  • Radiance (R)
  • Adventurous (A)
  • Expansion (E)
  • Union (U)

The thing is that with these feelings calling the shots, I have so much more clarity when planning my weeks and months. Now, the question becomes:

“How can I feel <X> this week?”

The question “How can I feel playful this week” brings up a list of simple things I can do, including ‘listen to Spotify to discover new (to me) music’. This is something I love but never seem to get to. Adding that to my to-do list for the week makes me happy and I look forwards to the time I’ll spend playing in this way.

Similarly the “How can I feel expansion this week” gets me thinking about a few things to include in my weekly plans including a practice of short daily meditations, a list of books that I would like to read  (the plan is 1 book a week), and an online course that I’ve been putting off taking, but I know will really rock my world.

How Second Life can help achieve 2015 New Year’s resolutions

Today I created a spreadsheet of daily and weekly things I’d like to be doing that will help me feel the way I want to feel. I ended up with a list of 25 things I want to be doing fairly regularly. The spreadsheet allows me to track them each day, and see how I’m doing. These are not crazy, large goals. They are daily habits that help me to feel how I want to feel. Some of the habits are part of larger goals. One of them is an “expansion” feeling goal that is focussed on daily small “research bites” that might help me to write a book over the course of the next 2 years, but most of them are basic things like:

  • floss (R)
  • write 750 words in my Artist’s Way journal (E)
  • do some kind of basic self-care / beauty ritual (nails, hair tx, epsom salt bath) (R)
  • declutter for 15 minutes (A)
  • dress in a way that makes me smile (R)
  • have a green smoothie (R)
  • take a walk (R)
  • read (P)
  • stretch for 10 mins (R)

Doing any of these things for any length of time allows me to gain a point for the day, for that item. Even if I go on a 10 minute walk. Even if I read for 15 minutes. These count. I am building up the feeling that I’m after. The fact I have a chart to count points may sound onerous, but I find that the 5 minutes a day I spend on this keeps me focussed and is great feedback telling me how well I am doing towards feeling the way I want to feel.

So how does Second Life help me fulfil my core desired feelings?

Second Life is something I enjoy to add balance to my life. Something I noticed today when getting my spreadsheet together is that my goals are heavily unbalanced at present.

Here’s a breakdown of the things I am doing towards generating each feeling:

Playful Union Radiance Expansion Adventurous
3 2 12 4 4

As you can see I am doing really well on the radiance feelings. But just like Luke Skywalker, I can feel an imbalance in the force. Over the last 3 years I’ve been very focussed on getting in the best shape of my life (I’m not knocking it – feels awesome!) But when I look at that chart above, and think about how much I value the feelings of being playful and having a sense of union with my friends and family I see areas where I would really benefit from adding new things into my life that can help me achieve these 2 feelings specifically.

I’ve written before about how Second Life can add wonder and play to our lives. Out of the 25 things I’ve focussed on doing in the new year, only 3 are play oriented, and that is a number I intend to increase. A great way to do this is by spending more time in Second Life. As mentioned before, each person’s method of achieving a feeling is very personal. For me, taking the pictures for this blog post was incredibly playful. Making the outfits, choosing the hair and makeup, finding this landscape, posing with goats, choosing the emotions, fixing the lighting, etc all tap into a feeling of silly, playful, fun. It’s not something I have to do. It’s something I want to do for the sheer joy and playfulness of it.

I actually find that Second Life contributes 3 of the 5 feelings I’m after in my life. Not only playfulness, but also a sense of union with others, as well as a great environment for self-growth and expansion.

I look forward to playing and connecting more in 2015 and am grateful for the valuable platform and opportunity that SL adds to my life.

How does SL help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions?

How Second Life can help achieve 2015 New Year’s resolutions

Saying goodbye to all manner of things

August bank holiday weekend (and labor day) is always full of bittersweet feelings for me. Summer is almost over. This summer is ending rather abruptly in the UK with the weather plunging almost overnight in the last couple weeks.

I thought I would kick-off the almost-beginning of autumn with a wee retrospective of some of my favourite summer fashions from 2014  (baby’s first summer in SL!) all set to the soundtrack of the song Michigan by the Milk Carton Kids, which I’ve been obsessed with much of this summer. So hit play on the video before viewing the fashions below… and keep your hands where I can see ’em. It’s time to say goodbye.

Today, I headed over to the Basilique Sim which has been my most regular haunt in the short time I’ve been in Second Life to date. This is still one of my favourite Sims with a picture perfect scene opening up in front of you around every corner. It’s ideal for fashion shoots and you’re really spoiled for choice as to where to setup your lights and tripods!

Adieu my love... saying goodbye to summer 2014

Adieu my love… waving goodbye to summer 2014

Adieu my love... saying goodbye to summer 2014

A sendoff from the Basilique pier… saying goodbye to summer 2014

Adieu my love... saying goodbye to summer 2014

Savouring the last food markets of summer… saying goodbye to summer 2014


A fond farewell to sleeveless tops and easy summer dressing… saying goodbye to summer 2014

 So adieu my love. See you next year.

So adieu my love. See you next year.

Self growth and the invitation of Second Life

Communing with nature and Batdog at the Moonlight Teahouse

Communing with nature and Batdog at the Moonlight Teahouse

I am attracted to Second Life for many reasons. It wasn’t until I had to make several profiles for myself in a row that I realised my main interest was in self growth. Discovering things about myself that I wouldn’t get a chance to via other means.

Something that one of my favourite marketing gurus, Seth Godin, often says about discovery is that it’s useful to introduce limits for yourself when attempting to solve problems. This could be a graphic designer who forces himself to design something using only 2 colours, or a team leader who declares the project will be shipping in exactly 2 weeks regardless of whatever state of readiness it is in. Boundaries and structure force you to be inventive. You will try things you wouldn’t otherwise have to.

The imposed communication format in Second Life is ripe for discovery of this sort. When you purposefully remove people’s vocal and visual cues, it’s so intriguing as a newbie to observe how relationships might change and see what innovations are born.

Poetry often acts in this same way. By purposefully invoking a set structure, you often wind up with pared down delights of clarity and  a few mind-splitting-open experiences.

One of my favourite poems is The Invitation. While the form of this particular poem is not sparse, the content touches upon some of these relational benefits that Second Life invites us to experience. By stripping away the inconsequential surface details we so often get hung up on, we can dive deeper into the more substantial, authentic and juiciest bits of life.

The breakthrough for me inside these so called limits, is that the end result feels more like an opportunity for communion rather than mere communication.

I hope you savour this poem as much as I do.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

– The Invitation copyright © 1999 by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

Could women be empowered by getting naked in Second Life?

Empowerment via nakedness in Second Life?

Does the ability to take your kit off at will and try on a sexier persona, empower or diminish women in Second Life?

Thanks to Kay Jiersen’s great post on the the complicated problem of female sexualization in games and virtual worlds I’ve been pondering how my views on nudity or overly sexualised females in games, magazines, and movies has changed over the last few years.

It used to be very clear to me that hyper-sexualization was a negative thing, full stop. In the last few years I’ve been leaning more towards the “embrace your erotic creature” argument which strongly supports more overt female sexuality in our culture. It’s looking like a paradigm shift that could be a much more powerful and joyous addition to the world than I had considered before.

Proponents of this concept include the inventor of the S Factor, Sheila Kelley, whose sold-out seminars teach women around the world how to fully embody their own sexual power. Kelley explains that “Women’s sexuality is something that is a very touchy subject for a lot of women … I had to free my body from all of the binding, all the shutting down, and all of the censorship I had already put on it. When I did that, everything in my life changed. My relationship with my husband changed. My relationship to the world changed. My relationship to my body changed. My relationship to my female friends changed in huge ways.”

This TED Talk by Kelley fascinated me when she described  the “primal, wild untamed sexual altar ego that lives deep within every woman.” She suggests we could make a personal reclamation of the female body,  not by hiding our body or our sexuality, but by celebrating all of the female nature in public, including our sexuality. “I say take it out of the dark, seedy clubs. Don’t let it be owned by men anymore. Own it yourself. When you own it yourself, then you feel complete.”

I find myself, as Kay’s post mentions, dressing not for men, but for myself. Another factor for me when getting dressed is to ensure the end result is not something that might offend other women by being too overtly sexual. This is not a conscious exercise. And I don’t think I really have articulated that before, however I imagine that some form of this internal censor is somewhere in the mind of many women when getting dressed. The funny thing to me, is that this is true for me in both SL and RL.

In SL when I dress in a more sexy style, I  really appreciate the digital ability to wear much less than I would in RL. I find the ability to celebrate the female body very freeing. And when I say “I wear sexy styles in SL,” I am aware that I’m playing it very safe compared to many. I still, even in SL, feel the pressure that Kelley says, “society puts on us to keep ourselves under wraps so that we can be taken more seriously in a world that values masculinity.” My societally installed trashy-radar is still set to high.

In RL, I just noticed a pattern this past weekend. I was getting ready to go to a cocktail party on Friday. I often will put on a sexy dress at home, feel wonderful in it, but ultimately decide to change into something less overtly sexy before leaving for fear that I’ll be judged as “not serious” or “trashy” or something of that sort. It feels socially unsafe to show myself fully in public. It could be just me, but since I’ve had the “is this too short/tight/revealing” conversation with many a girlfriend prior to going out, I’m thinking it’s not likely an isolated issue of mine.

Why are we hiding our beauty? Our gorgeousness? Our femininity?

Whenever I resist this pressure to de-sexualise myself and actually do go out in a body conscious dress that celebrates my femaleness, I feel wonderful. I’m wondering if the bleed from the sexuality seen in Second Life and also video games could one day encourage more sanctioned overt sexuality from women, if we contextualised it in this positive, new way? I’m not saying this isn’t a sea change, and I’m not suggesting that women walk around naked all the time. I am suggesting that we wear what we want, when we want to, perhaps starting with SL and then consciously spilling some of that positive freedom and powerful energy back into RL. Could that be a possibility, for when we want to express ourselves this way?

Through some of the work of Alison Armstrong, a thought leader on helping men and women create unions based on real partnership, I’ve come to appreciate that men truly value and feed off of women, and part of this is shown via appreciating the female form. Women sometimes criticise men for this activity, calling it objectification, however if we viewed things from a different perspective, could we not see this as appreciation that we were not open to receiving? Are these sexualised gaming avatars, as created mostly by appreciative men, not actually compliments for women to enjoy and take pride in?

I see a lot of avatars flashing their bare flesh in SL. Is it stemming from empowerment, or is it a guilty pleasure that will never be owned up to in RL? Could we change our approach and encourage women to harness the power of female sexuality and celebrate the female form when it’s willingly shared in public? Or is too much flesh in public “tarty” and open season for judgement?

I truly don’t know the answer, but I’m asking myself this question these days. What do you think?

Day 2: Review of Welcome Materials from Second Life

A happy and hot June howdy to you! It’s been just gorgeous, lovely weather in London and I am quite stunned to realise it’s been so long since my last newbie update! Before I get totally swept away by summer’s charms, I wanted to finish off these thoughts about the early welcome emails from Linden Lab that newbies get in the first week. My review of the day one email material is here. Below I review my impressions about the day 2 emails I received in quick succession right after I joined Second Life.

Day 2 Materials: Shopping, Home Ownership and Finding Friends

Day 2 Welcome Kit

Day 2: Shopping… in French?

Day 2: Email: Get Started with Second Life Shopping. Cool, shopping! Something I understand! But oddly when I clicked the link in the email it went to a Second Life video about shopping all right, but… it is entirely in French audio (quoi?), complete with French subtexts! So needless to say I did not watch this video. Um, just to be totally clear…. I speak English. I signed up in English. Huh? Anyways, I go and get the shopping primer from my friend Becky instead.

Day 3 Welcome Materials

Day 2: Home ownership

Day 2: Email: Make Your Second Life Even Better.  I get an email all about something called a premium membership which seems to allow me to own a home along with some other random benefits that don’t make much sense to me. I cannot really even walk yet and I’m finding basics like dressing, fairly difficult. I think perhaps I will wait before getting involved in home ownership. I am no where even close to that headspace at the moment. Before I would consider upgrading, my order of operations include basic stuff like “Can I do this thing called Second Life? Should I even be here – does it appeal to me? How does the system work? What is this all about – why do people come here?”  There are too many things to learn already – I don’t want to consider that step yet, and I have no idea why I would even want a home.

Day 4 Welcome Materials

Day 2: Finding “like-minded” people

Day 2: Email: Find People Who Share Your Interests. This is intriguing! I would like to meet some people as it’s one of my main motivators for joining. Inside the email it says “Follow people who share your interests!” OK, so I check each one out in turn. The first suggested contact I click on is someone building a community for Greek People – alas I am not Greek.  The second person says “I love to help newbies (or not)” – well that is not all that encouraging! The third person I click on is called “NCI” – there is no explanation for what NCI stands for or why I might want to connect with them. (I later find out this is New Citizens Incorporated, but I didn’t realise it when I first clicked on this link). The fourth person they suggest is a cartoon dog with no bio info – I move on. The fifth person to connect with is a robot who uses French in their profile? What is that about?  Why does Second Life think I am French (or Greek)?

The verdict on the day 2 wave of emails?

I’m not feeling “gotten” in that I’m being offered stuff that is clearly not tailored for my needs. Regarding possible people to connect with, if this is the best on offer in terms of contacts “suitable for me”, then I’m guessing I’m not going to find many people to whom I have common interests! Luckily I already know someone in world, otherwise, this is not looking like something that is “for me”.

So during my first week I was not really feeling like I’d had any hand holding, and the information was all a bit obscure and non–personalised. I’m wondering “is this thing really something that makes sense for me?” I feel a bit rudderless and dependent on friends to help sort me out, otherwise I get the feeling it’s going to be a bit of a mission to figure this place out.

A review of welcome emails for newbies in Second Life: Part 1

I wanted to continue sharing what happened to me after I survived “Welcome Island” in Second Life in case Linden Labs is interested in feedback on how it feels to experience Second Life for the first time. I genuinely like Second Life and think the benefits are far too hidden inside the current user welcome experience. I hope this review of the welcome materials below will in some small way help to highlight things that might be changed to make things a bit better for the next round of newbies.

During my first week in Second Life, I was feeling a bit lost. I chalked it up to my haste to leave Welcome Island. I figured I had probably inadvertently missed some key piece of information that, had I stayed there longer, would have enlightened me about the next steps on my newbie journey in this strange new land. I now turned hopefully to my email inbox, looking for some hand holding.

Day 1 Email: Welcome to Second Life! Get started with the basics

First email from Second Life to get started

First email from Second Life to welcome new residents

  1. Item A: Explore Now! This takes you to the general Destination Guide. This is useful! It gave me the impression there are some great things on offer here to take a look at, so I bookmarked that link. It was a bit overwhelming in terms of the volume of choices, and I had no way of deciding which places might be good “firsts” to check out. Also, before I jumped straight into checking out some places, I felt like I wanted to get a better grasp on the general premise, what to expect, and how to conduct myself here, so I moved onto item B.
  2. Item B: What is Second Life? This contains a video promising to explain “What is Second Life?” Now that sounded great! I was disappointed that this video simply contained the following explanation for what Second Life is: “A place to connect. A place to shop. A place to work. A place to love. A place to explore. A place to be. Be different. Be yourself. Free yourself. Free your mind. Change your mind. Change your look. Love your look. Love your life. Second Life. Join Today.” Ok, hmmm. I have already joined. Why did they send me the marketing video? Now that I’m in, I want different messaging, like: “We understand that it’s overwhelming, so here’s a loose guide of general steps that many people like to take when they first arrive in Second Life”. Now is not the time to market AT me. Try and engage me please, at the level I am currently at which is something akin to total confusion!  Hold my hand please and let me know you understand!
  3. Item C: Hot Events. This looks interesting. I will save that for later, once I’ve figured out more of the basics.
  4. Item D: Editors’ Picks. Ditto to above. Once I am feeling oriented, I will check that out.
  5. Item E: Help Zones! OK, now we’re onto something! And funnily enough, I totally missed this last item in the intro email. I just noticed it now while writing this blog post. This stuff should have been sent in an email all by itself on Day 1 with a title something like “How to Start Your Second Life”.

I thought for a moment that the Help Zones would contain the holy grail content I had hoped to receive in my first few days in Second Life but when I clicked on the link it took me to a page called “Newcomer Friendly Spots“. Instead of a step by step guide, it’s a four page hodgepodge of random stuff. Nothing seems intentional or designed to speak to the situation I’m currently in. On page 1, I do see 3 items that look like legitimate help, and then some beaches and clubs that are “newcomer friendly” – but I’m not sure what that means. Also on this help page is a link to something called a “Help Island” – but this description does not sound that appealing:

Help Island is an easy to learn island with a freebie mall. Take a boat, land a plane, shoot clay pigeons, you can even learn how to DJ. They also have personal mentors to answer questions. So with tons to do and see, you should check it out.”

Easy-to-learn sounds good, but shooting clay pigeons and learning to DJ both sound like very random offerings when I’m trying to learn how to not bump into stuff, walk in some resemblance of a straight line, keep my clothes on so that I don’t walk around naked, and get up to speed on Second Life as fast as possible. I wonder, “what is a freebie mall and why do I need one?”

The verdict on the day 1 email?

My general impression of the information in this very crucial first email is that it feels more like a data dump than a help guide. There is a good volume of information to explore, however the recipient has to sift through it to make sense of it for themselves. Sifting takes time and discernment and most people at this stage probably don’t have much of either. Also, the way the information is delivered (providing a link to a dynamic webpage), means that the user experience is uncontrolled because the webpage will undoubtedly change over time. This means that each new user is getting a different experience based on what is randomly showing on the website that day.

I think there is a time and place for giving people a lot of choice, but early on in the user experience is not the time for uncurated information. As a first time user, I would prefer a controlled experience and the comforting feeling of a leader or guide or sherpa who will help me down the path towards more competence and away from uncertainty. At this stage, if there was a series of game-like challenges or tests to get me up to speed, then I’d be all over that.

In my next post I’ll talk (more briefly) about the remaining follow up emails I received during my first week and how they contributed to my early days in Second Life.

I survived “Welcome Island” in Second Life (my t-shirt is on order)

Ella Brightside on Rez Day in my newly minted "Rocker Chick" outfit.

Hi, my name is Ella and I survived the welcome provided for me on “Learning Island” in Second Life! This picture on the left and above capture me on Rez Day in my newly minted “Rocker Chick” outfit. The rez day experience was totally unexpected, and only marginally less scary than the hot coals I walked over at one of Anthony Robbins’ epic life changing events. I am telling you this today not to spew vitriol, but because I really like Second Life. I hope that the day-to-day reality of it can be better translated into a safe and fun learning area for new users, so that other people don’t have to experience what I did!

This is nowhere near the size of the baby that accosted me when I first joined Second Life. This lady is also rolling out the welcome mat with her 2 pistols ready to go!

Bienvenido from a pistol packing mamma! This is nowhere near the size of the mountainous baby that accosted me when I first joined Second Life. I went back to document some of what I found on the first go-around. This time I found a few other characters who are not exactly rolling out the welcome mat. There is a lot of noise and confusion thrown at newbies when they first encounter Learning Island.

Day 1: Signed up on March 1st, 2014. It all started so well. I had fun picking a whimsical name (Ella means beautiful fairy) and then chose a female avatar. But as soon as my avatar rezzed, the trouble began! Some miscreants had bunkered down on the welcome island to terrify every new person that rezzed (I later learned that these people are called “griefers” and they like to shake things up by being disruptive). Highlights from my rez day included:

  • A gigantic buddha-fat baby, ten times the size of a regular avatar appeared on my screen. It was surrounded by what appeared to a massive black-hole (a black octagon like shape that surrounded the baby) to which quite a few avatars seemed to be stuck to. These avatars seemed trapped all helter skelter; with limbs and body parts adhered but jutting out of the black hole at various angles.
  • There was a kind of Modern-Warfare-esque thumping electronica playing. Layered over the music was a male voice yelling something like: “2 down, 4 to go!”
  • I felt like this creature was sequentially targeting every new avatar and that any minute I would be next. I was thinking to myself “great, I’ll be taken out by a giant baby on day 1 never to be heard from again!”
  • So after this welcoming incident, I figured I’d change scenery. I quickly walked to another part of the island looking for instructions on what to do next. I couldn’t find any. I typed in my chat window to some of the other people around me asking “Does anyone know where the help instructions are?” Complete tumbleweeds – nobody answered back.
  • I flew around the island a bit, checking out what was there: a deserted dance floor, a lighthouse, some empty platforms, nothing really that interesting.
  • I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I used a lifeline. I used my mobile to call a friend in real life who then sent me a TP and effectively rescued me from the confusion and boredom of Learning Island.
This guy had a really cool avatar, and I enjoyed photographing him... today. But if the first thing I see when I get into Second Life is a guy dressed up with angel wings that are covered with blood and thorns, carrying a placard, I'm not sure I'm going to stick around. Is this the right test for fit in Second Life?

Aloha! This guy had a really cool avatar, and I enjoyed photographing him… today. But if the first thing I see when I get into Second Life is a guy dressed up with angel wings that are covered with blood and thorns, carrying a placard, I’m not sure I’m going to stick around. Is this the right introduction to Second Life?

It appears I’m in good company on this kind of experience. Theia Magic wrote about similar dazed and confused experiences for newcomers in Second Life, and Skyspinner Soulstar recently posted a video commentary on the sorry state of the new avi experience in Second Life. At the most recent weekly Basilique Salon, I heard a story from a lady that spent 3 weeks on Welcome Island (one of the predecessors to Learning Island). It’s funny to think about it and we all laughed at the time, but I can totally see how that could happen.

To date I’ve realised that the early user experience of Second Life is nowhere close to being reflective of the real benefits and fun that avatars routinely experience. This has to change!

This fellow is pretty cute, but I am not clear on why he's here, and who exactly was speaking and saying "f£$% you everybody!" over the stream in the welcome area. Is this the best that we can offer to those seeking to explore a new world?

Willkommen! This fellow is pretty cute, but I am not clear on why he’s here, and who exactly was speaking and saying “F**k you everybody!” over the stream in the welcome area. Is this the best that we can offer to those seeking to explore a new world? (Oh, and the fellow behind him was a jumbled variety of animals with a pineapple jammed up his rear! Funny, yes! Introductory material… no!)

I’m glad I stuck it out to find ways to explore and experience Second Life that made me feel connected and engaged enough to continue on the journey, but I highly doubt I would have, had I not had a real life friend telling me there was a light at the end of the tunnel. This is a user experience you have to ‘work around’, instead of ‘engage and enjoy the experience’. It’s felt more like a battle than a delight. Perhaps that is the market – people that like a challenge, and perhaps there is some pride to be had in being affiliated with other people that are part of this special club of folks that hung on until the day the battle turned delightful. In that case, maybe I’m not meant to be here – perhaps I should have let natural selection take it’s course and not used “life support” to artificially survive. It’s impossible to know now!

I have now been in Second Life for 2 months. I’ve learned a lot and there’s so much more to learn each day! I’ll be exploring some more of my early days in here over the next month to make sense of what I’ve learned so far. If you have any funny or fond memories from your early days in Second Life, it would be great to hear about them in the comments below.


Reclaiming wonder through Second Life

Second Life offers up the opportunity for wonder, a fact I missed at first glance

Second Life offers up the potential opportunity for wonder, a fact I missed at first glance

I was listening to my new girl-crush, Arianna Huffington (really! she is so very wise!) about her latest book Thrive. During her interview with Sheryl Sandberg at the Commonwealth Club, she talks about how the success dynamic in our culture is focussed on 2 metrics: power and money, yet there is a third metric that most of us are completely missing the boat on. This third metric is a general sense of living “the good life”, and one of the four pillars she proposes make up this third metric is something I think most of us have long stopped experiencing: wonder.

Wonder is defined as “a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.” When I think of wonder, I think of children lost in their secret worlds of play. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words “secret worlds of play” what do you think pops into my head? Of course! Second Life.

I naturally think of Second Life as having this incredible potential for stimulating wonder, and yet I realised that personally I have not yet fully succumbed to this dynamic. I am very new to Second Life. Oddly it never occurred to me that after hitting Welcome Island, I might simply start anew with life. Maybe it’s because I resisted the “Second Life” concept before I became involved in the platform. I found it presented me with the idea that there may be something wrong or missing in my first life, so much so that I would need to go out, find another life and start all over again. So maybe in disliking the name, I also threw away the potential upside of having a whole new side of myself to explore. A possibility of getting lost in the beautiful and unfamiliar.

So no, I must admit, I was not a captain of hedonistic pursuits or a trailblazing psychological adventurer… at first. Instead of building a “second” life I felt compelled to almost bring my first one in with me. I didn’t even really think about it. I just did it. I set about finding an avatar that looking somewhat like me, dressing like I do in RL, and getting my social media all sorted out, so that I felt like my avatar had some kind of home base to spring forth from!

This idea of reproducing my first life thing, didn’t really cross my mind until a few weeks in, once I had gone through the startup pains of getting my basics sorted. I was so busy with learning how to walk, dress, emote, buy stuff, TP, etc., that I didn’t slow down to ask a very basic question. Why am I even here?

I laughed out loud when I realised that in a world where anything, literally anything is possible, I have been busying imbuing my second life with the trappings of my first.

And that was it. All of a sudden a thousand ideas came crashing against each other in my mind. Ooh what if I could have another life? What would I try? What would I change? Who could I be? I loved the idea! I couldn’t believe I had limited my vision to only that which was possible and known in the real world. Such a wasted opportunity! And in an instant my mind changed as to what I was doing here.

All aboard! First stop: wonder!