Posts Tagged ‘obsession’

While reading the comments on a friend’s blog post about Freebies, I came across the standard comment (and from a Second Life resident no less), which goes along the lines of “it’s all just play clothes on virtual dolls, why do you all give a crap?”. I was going to reply to it but realised what I had to say had wider application and goes to the heart of trying to understand why people bother with a virtual world at all. So it’s getting its very own blog post over here instead 🙂 .

The first thing to realise is that that style of argument can apply to every single element of Second Life, “it’s just pixel pieces, why do you care that this sim is being destroyed..” “it’s just fake water, why does a view of it matter”, “it’s just toy bodies, why do you care who they have virtual sex with”, etc. So as Second Life residents we should always be suspect of this argument from anyone else who is a resident too – surely we know better than that by now. We might find it easier to defend why we value whichever part of Second Life we take part in, but struggle to appreciate someone else’s interest in something like Second Life fashion.

It doesn’t take a lot of reflection to put together the arguments though – the way we dress our avatars expresses our own style; some people write poems, some sing songs, some do pictures, others dress up. They are just all ways to say “this is me, this is what I am, this is how I feel”. Then there’s all the arguments about the fact that people make real money from virtual clothes, and spend real money on virtual clothes, there is livelihood at stake here and that is always going to be important to the people involved in it. Throw in the points about the art-form itself of creating virtual clothes – the precision and expertise involved – and all up it’s really not that hard to understand why some people care so damn much about it.

However, you don’t have to go through those sorts of in-depth or reasoned arguments if you don’t want to – because this whole discussion just emulates the exact same arguments we throw at each other in real life about real life activities. For example, I have no idea why so many of the men I know spend money and time following and caring about sports. I’ve heard their arguments and none have convinced me I should suddenly take an interest in it myself. You can push the examples to the edge of reason as well and try to appreciate the money and time people like MTG players put into a small pieces of cardboard that the rest of us would just throw out as rubbish, or stamps, or whatever – the examples are unlimited. All that matters though is that they do value those things – whether they can make you value them too or not is going to be irrelevant to their own desire and possible obsession over them.

To the same extent it becomes pointless to constantly ridicule people about the things they value – in any world. We all take joy from different things, it’s part of the beauty of the diversity of humanity, why would anyone want to destroy that, and make us all like the same things? What an incredibly boring world that would be.

There is a line to be drawn of course: If someone is spending time or money on something to an extent that they are endangering their own or their family’s lives, then we say enough is enough. But we call that an obsession, or an addiction, and we generally understand that just about any imaginable (legal) activity becomes dangerous at those extremes. However most people don’t live at the extremes of addiction and obsession, and the chances of you being able to figure out if they do or not from some brief blog comments they make, seems very low. So even with this line of concern there is little ground to dismiss what someone else values as “stupid” or “unreasonable”.

What is considered “valuable” changes from individual to individual. And even when two individuals value something equally, the reasons for them ascribing it that value are likely to vastly differ – whether those reasons are monetary gain from on-selling the item later, emotional ties, rarity, beauty, or historical connections. Some people will mount arguments for “objective value” – but that’s usually at the fringes of philosophical debate, where we try to make the argument that everyone should value life, or happiness or other things which are rarely on the market anyway. The ways in which we achieve happiness or our versions of the good life are reflected in the rest of the items and activities we try to surround ourselves with; trying to tell someone they are “wrong” for valuing stamps or sports or pixels when in fact they help that person achieve one of these higher goals (of lets say, happiness), is to miss the point entirely.

Within certain communites we can have meaningful discussions about value. For example in the Second Life fashion community there can be meaningful discussions about the value of a well-made dress with fantastic unique textures. But if you don’t value Second Life fashion at all, trying to jump into that discussion and tell them they’re all morons for thinking it matters who designed a dress or the details of the texture, is a waste of your time and a waste of theirs; go get involved with discussions about things you do actually care about, instead of focusing so much effort on bringing down what makes other people happy.

There are a lot of thoughts I’m trying to get out here, that require more space than a single post rightly allows. But the point is an important one: Why we value Second Life at all – why we value what we do there, why one person values clothes and the other values snail races – is as much a discussion as to why one person values collectible playing cards and another spends their time drooling over Ferraris. Just accept that what makes you happy might not make your neighbour happy, but that as long as you’re not addicted or obsessed to the point of destroying lives, just live and let live. You’re not going to convince me to stop valuing everything Joss Whedon creates, and I’m not going to convince you that following sport is pointless (even though it is :p ).

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Would you rather be in Second Life right now... or are you already..?

Would you rather be in Second Life right now... or are you already..?

A recent commenter on my blog claimed you can’t be addicted to Second Life. I countered with a “oh yes you can be”.

It doesn’t take much of a Google search to find people making the claim that it’s possible (examples of relevant links include this and this and this).

Inspired by my good friend Rrish over at Metaversally Speaking who did a quiz about Second Life body shapes, I’ve decided to provide a link to an Internet Addiction Quiz that I found quite interesting and relevant. When I took the quiz purely in regards to “Internet addiction” (which is it’s intention and wording), I received a score of:

25: Internet addiction possible: Based upon your responses to this quiz, it appears that you are likely experiencing fairly frequent issues related to your online use. This often occurs when individuals start exploring or using Internet resources (or game playing) to an extreme, without considering balancing them with their real-life needs. Think of it like this… You generally don’t spend 5 or 6 hours in front of the television, every night, nearly every day. Most people wouldn’t think that’s normal. So if you find yourself spending that amount of time online day after day and it’s affecting your ability to interact in your real life, you should seek change or additional help.

I took the quiz again specifically inserting for myself the words “Second Life” instead of “Internet”, “email” and “online”and got this (again, with “Second Life” replacing the words “online” and “Internet”):

11: No Second Life Addiction: Your use of Second Life falls within the range of the average user. From the way you answered the questions, it is unlikely that you have any problem with Second Life use at this time. You have a balanced relationship with your Second Life use.

Sounds good right? It does now. This is the honest result I would have gotten answering those questions about Second Life a few months ago:

33: Second Life Addiction Likely: Based upon your responses to this quiz, it appears that the amount of time you’re spending in Second Life may be causing you significant concerns within your real-world life. People who spend a lot of time in Second Life often find that they have difficulty balancing their Second life with their real-world life (especially if you are new to Second Life). You should look at how you’re using Second Life right now and see if there are ways that you can reduce or otherwise change your use of Second Life to reduce the issues it may be causing in your life. Think of it like this… You generally don’t spend 6 or 8 hours in front of the television, every night, nearly every day. Most people wouldn’t think that’s normal. So if you find yourself spending that amount of time in Second Life day after day and it’s affecting your ability to interact in your real life, you should seek change or additional help.

So things have clearly changed for the better, and I stand by what I’ve said before in my blog: I used to be addicted to Second Life but no longer am.

What about you? Are you addicted to Second Life? Run through the quiz the way I did – inserting “Second Life” for those other Internet terms, and if you’re brave, let me know what your score was. Or just pop it into my attached poll, or even better – do both 🙂

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This is the next installment in my stalker series: The typical stalkee.

I was interested to hear in the responses to my last stalker post that being stalked wasn’t as widespread a phenomena as I was lead to believe by my own experiences and by my other friends! So I thought it would make sense to consider what makes someone the ideal stalking target.

First up, let’s not be cruel enough to assume that the stalkee “deserves” the behaviour. It has to be in the stalker’s nature to be that way in the first place, but we’ll be getting to analysing the classic SL stalker later.

The classic SL stalkee will have open communication channels: If you never reply to the person trying to talk to you it will be far less likely that they’ll become obsessed. I’ve written before about my own open nature and the fact I will accept most friendship offers. I will talk to anyone who talks to me when I first meet them, and I have no interest in changing that about myself. This of course makes it much easier for a stalker to think I might be interested in them – let’s be clear, it takes extremely little for a stalker to think you have some sort of relationship with them. “Hello” can be full of secret messages and longing for them.

The classic SL stalkee will also be too nice to tell the stalker to bugger off, at least, not at first. Where other people might be much more direct or be clearer about their utter lack of interest in the person, the stalkee will try to be at least minimally friendly and “leave the door open” instead of slamming it in their perverted faces.

Another thing a good stalkee must do is be in-world often enough for the person to obsess over. If you only turn up in SL every week or so you’re far less likely to become their obsession – they’ll eventually find someone far more accessible who “deserves” their loving attention.

Oddly enough, I also recognise another attribute in SL stalkees – confidence. Maybe it adds to the person’s aura and charisma if they come across as confident and strong..? I suspect this will make more sense to me when I get down to analysing the classic SL stalker.

I don’t know how much this list of attributes makes someone a good target for an RL stalker too, I can see some cross-over sure, but at least for SL this list rings true for my experiences and my observations of others.

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