When Sea and Sky Collide

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Second Life was always sold as just that: a second life, a place where one can live out fantasies and adventures which were not attainable to most people in everyday life. There are those who live to that mantra; they do not share anything about their real life and to them, the two parts of their existence are always shuttered.

There are those of us, most of us, who enjoy some overlap. Our second lives are not some big illicit secret to the people we know, and our real lives are not totally hidden from those we consider friends and family inside Second Life.

But what has been very front and center lately is the way Second Life has become some kind of ‘Facebook with Avatars’. Political agendas in this unsettled time are bubbling up and I’ve already seen some evidence of it cutting communities in half, breaking up groups and driving wedges between people.

At the end of the day this just emphasizes and reminds us all that behind every avatar, there is a living breathing human; whether they represent their real life self or a facsimile of themselves on the screen.

Twenty-Seventeen

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I’m going to just write this in one stream of consciousness so I make no apologies for the rambling nature of this post. I’m wordy, I know. Get over it 🙂

So here we are into another year of Second Life. This year will see my 10th anniversary in Second Life (assuming I actually survive until June). When I signed up for my account, if someone had told me I would still regularly be logging into SL in ten years’ time, I would have thought them insane.

In all of my ‘almost ten years’, I have rarely been away for very long. A week or two at most when I was away from internet camping or some such. I’ve never really taken a so-called SLacation (time out from Second Life) because like everyone else, I find it hard to be away for any length of time.

Second Life has, over the years, been my social life. I’m on a level playing field here. In ‘real life’ (funny how we all make the online/offline distinction as if it really matters. Personally it’s all just ‘life’ to me but some people are not as comfy as I am without a line drawn somewhere down the middle) my social skills are a little strained at best. I am hearing impaired if you didn’t know, which means that hanging out with people in groups, at bars or parties, can be hard work for me. I lipread and I don’t do well catching the spoken word. I get left out; I miss jokes or gossip and people just think I’m being cold or stand-offish.

In Second Life, we all talk with typed words (well, most of the people I know do). Means that I am able to communicate and be sharp-witted with everyone else in the room. That is a big thing for me.

The thing about Second Life is that every few months, it is like a new chapter in a book. I go to different venues, I hang with different people, I try different things. But lately I think I have been trying too hard to stay popular and it’s causing me to over-extend my friendships with people. I am sure most of my friends would say I am being over-analytical and I should get over myself; but I am my own worst critic: only-child-syndrome I call it. It’s a conflict between liking one’s own company and craving the attention of others. It’s a battle I will never win; I just have to learn not to piss people off in the process.

So here we are in 2017. Another new year, more changes and technology coming along in SL and no doubt many changes in faces (…actually literally this time around), venues, friendships and relationships. I know I will piss people off. I will hurt people. I will cause people to think less of me. I don’t do it maliciously or deliberately and often it happens because I care too much about people’s feelings. I’m a ride in an open top car without seat belts: you might end up getting hurt but the journey will be a lot of fun.

In the Mountains of Alki

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On my way to Alki, I happened to stop by the Lesbian Teahouse (aka The Lesbian Busstop, The Teahole, Teapit etc). As far as I know, every single prim laid there was done so around 2007, making it not only one of the most untouched regions in SL, but also one of the most dated. So imagine my shock and surprised to see that the adjacent “mall” had been removed and a sign erected indicating that there is going to be a “remoddling” (whatever one of those is).

Arriving at Alki (home of Z&A, the everpopular venue owned by Zoidyn and Alana) I decided to take a quick look around as I had never ventured much beyond the club itself. To my surprise there is a whole vista to be seen including a stunning view of mountains and valleys. Guinn joined me and it was a perfect photo opportunity!

Pull yourself together!

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“We are very sorry ma’am, there is nothing more we can do…”

I don’t know if it is just that my internet connection has gotten worse, my MacMini just doesn’t have the required oomph anymore or Linden Labs need to put the hamsters on amphetamines, but rezzing has gotten slower and slower to the point that I can be 20 minutes into a conversation with someone before their face arrives.

Second Life introduced the “complexity” tools, including choosing to render the heavy hitters as a gummi bear in a latex bodysuit; but that hasn’t really made a large impact in my overall graphics performance.

Mesh heads seem to be one of the worst offenders. Not only are they currently very boring (if there were more than 3-4 variations, it would not be so bad) but they seem to take forevvvvvveerrrrrr to rezz. Everything else for 200m around can be fully rezzed, textured and done and I’ll still see brains, eyeballs and disjointed faces hovering around the room. It’s like some really bad 1970s horror movie.

Well, hopefully in the time it’s taken me to write this article, everyone’s clothes, faces and legs will have arrived.

The Duchess (reborn?)

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Remember The Duchess Dyke Bar? In its various iterations it was once the most popular venue for queer people in Second Life. When I first started visiting the place, it would always be heaving with people morning, noon or night. Then it moved location, its owner, Beebo got sick, and the place went into a bit of a decline. Live events livened the place up but only on those evenings.

The recent consensus is that “the Duchess is dead, nobody goes there anymore….”

So I decided to go there for the first time in ages and see what was going on. To my surprise, the old place is totally gone. There are no longer the MkI or MkII buildings and instead there’s a complete prefab street scene like something off the set of EastEnders or Coronation Street (British soaps for those who don’t know…)

It’s nice. It’s clean and looks great; but it was still deserted when I went there and I wonder whether people will start to go back? The interior of the bar is ostensibly the same: the same posters on the walls, the same pool table and stools. Even the ice block and fan (still, in October?) which would please Rachel no end if she knew about it!

Some months ago I suggested to both Beebo and Ellen that they should perhaps combine The Duchess and Ellen’s EBar into one venue and benefit from the traffic each brings. Looking at these buildings, there’s enough upstairs space for Ellen to remodel EBar, and there’s a nice flat roof for those long summer Monday and Wednesday jams we’ve all grown accustomed to.

I hope it thrives here. The Duchess was the first place I came in SL that had a definite women-orientation and I made many good friends from here. I guess only time will tell.