I've had occasion recently to think about what I must seem like to a person reading this blog who not only doesn't know me, but doesn't know Second Life.
I know people sometimes stumble upon this site and take a gander... just like people who aren't avatars find my Flickr feed and follow me. I always wonder why, and it's my practice not to follow them back, even if they take lovely photos.
For me, this is all about Second Life.
My real life is pretty out of sorts... no more, and no less, than anyone else. We all deal with things, stress, family, work, job, relationships, money, and any of 100 trillion other things. And we all choose to deal with it in our own ways. Hobbies, for instance. Some people knit. Some play sports. Some read, some prop themselves in front of a television for hours.
I "play" Second Life.
I think of it a bit like playing adult Barbies. It's fantasy... I play dress up, I play house. I play some very adult themes. It's fun... it's a goofy escape from the real world. When I log on, for a bit of time, I get to forget my family issues, work issues, all the personal issues that I have to deal with on a daily basis just by the nature of being an adult.
But I'm very well aware where fantasy ends and real life begins. Even as I type most of these blog posts, I'm usually logged in because I'm being Beth Macbain. The friends I've made in Second Life know a lot about my real life, as I know about theirs - as far as they're willing to share with me. But once I'm logged in, I'm SL Beth, not RL Beth. What happens inside Second Life doesn't spill over - much - into the real world.
I say "much" because there is some, of course. When you become friends with someone, you care about them, online and offline. But there is a very definite limit as to how far that goes. I used to blur it a bit more because I would occasionally talk on the phone, or do voice chat in SL but I stopped doing that a couple of years ago. I found that it destroyed the illusion. When you start putting a real life voice to a character, things get too complicated.
Anyway, I flat-out chickened out of that meeting. I didn't want to meet anyone from SL in my RL.
I don't want to meet anyone from SL in my RL, and that includes Hugh - tenfold, actually. It would probably surprise most people to know we've never even talked on the phone. We established very early on in our relationship that there were lines that we were going to stick to no matter what, and we have. Our thing was strictly SL. Yes, that included emails... but those emails were always between SL Beth and SL Hugh. We shared RL stuff, but our relationship was firmly planted within the confines of SL and that's the way we both wanted it.
Neither of us were, or are, in any position to change a thing about our real lives. Beyond that, neither of us want to change a thing about our real lives. We're both pretty darn happy with where we are in life. No boats need to be rocked. We both needed something... that little escape from RL... and we found it in Second Life and with each other.
Which, I suppose, leads me back to my original point. What would a... er... regular?... person think about me by reading this blog?
It's hard for me to say because I think there is such a dichotomy between my words and my photos.
My photos... as I said, SL is a bit like playing grown-up Barbies to me. RL Beth does NOT have SL Beth's body. RL Beth would not pose nude or wearing lingerie. No way, no how. I don't want to scare people!
I go to bed later than I should, wake up tired and do it all over again. Take care of my elderly father. Deal with family drama. Do my job. Buy some groceries. Go out to dinner with friends or family every once in a while, but since I'm a huge introvert, I'd always really rather be at home, in my pajamas, with the cats.
And logging into Second Life to escape my completely satisfactory, mundane, generally happy life. And I get to be this exotic form of myself... this sexy beast with a sexy boyfriend and we dance and do sexy things together and both just de-stress and decompress and relax for a bit and forget about the real world and all its inherent things we have to deal with.
It's funny, because I very much judge the people who play SL as children... child avatars. I think I've blogged about it before... I can't remember. But it creeps me out. No matter what they say, what the reasons are, it creeps me out. But I have heard many times that some use it as a sort of therapy. Maybe they were abused as children and use SL as a way to relive their childhood, but this time they have the power to make it a happy childhood.
I've often wondered what a psychologist would think about that.
And yet I've just realized that I use SL as a form of therapy. I feel good about myself in Second Life. I feel confident and in control... and I realize that when I log off, some of that confidence comes with me. I feel like Beth Macbain for a while. I get to view myself as someone who has everything under control and it sends me out into the real world with a bit of that control. It does give me some strength to carry forth with whatever burdens happen to be around my shoulders for a while.
Is that healthy? I don't know. Maybe that's for another blog post to explore. I don't see how it can be anymore harmful than losing oneself in a book or a TV show. Hell, at least I'm not out LARPing (not that there's anything wrong with that, either).
But that's why I post the erotic photos. And sometimes the erotic words that go with them. But mostly the words are more... real life stuff. Issues happening in the world. Stuff that's on my mind that I need to stumble through and figure out.
Sometimes those words are about Second Life. There are certainly a lot of words about me and Hugh. And me and several other men before him. Those words are all about... god, I hate to call it a game, because I really don't think of SL as a game, but I can't think of another way to phrase it.
RL Beth isn't in love with RL Hugh... because she doesn't know him, and he doesn't know her. Yes, we know things about our real life selves but those are quite limited. As I mentioned, there are lines we just don't cross. In addition, I don't think either of us believes you can really know a person you've never met. I know I don't. SL Hugh is the guy I know and love, and I'm very aware that he's a character... and just like me, SL Hugh is a part of RL Hugh, but just a small part of who I'm certain is a very complex, complicated, quirky human being, just like me. Are those quirks things I could deal with in real life? I don't know. I don't want to know. I don't need to know.
That's not part of us. We both turn off our computers and cease to be those characters we inhabit in Second Life. And I would hope that anyone reading this who doesn't know Second Life, and doesn't know me, would realize or understand this on some level. We have this wild, outrageous love affair in SL that is always new and fun and fresh because we can make it that way because he doesn't have to see me picking my nose or stuffing my fat face in a vat of ice cream and I don't have to see him scratching his balls or cutting his toe nails. We're not there in sickness and in health. I don't have to deal with him when he has the runs and he doesn't have to hold my hair back when I've got the flu and am puking into the toilet.
All that stuff... the good and the bad... that goes along with being a real life human being, sharing your life with another real life human being. We don't have to deal with any of that. He can't hold me when I'm crying and I can't give him a back rub at the end of a long day. We can't curl up in bed together and discuss what we've got on our plates for the next day. We can't reach out to each other and give that reassuring touch that lets you know someone is there for you, just for you, for always and ever.
We only get this little fantasy world where everything is perfect... but perfectly unreal, too.
I have no idea if any of this makes sense to anyone but me... but it was something I felt I needed to say.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May your world be filled with peace.