When I tell people I use (not play, never play) Second Life, they tend to look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a second head.
And though I've frequently tried to explain what Second Life is to people who've never heard of it, until you immerse yourself in it and experience it, it's simply unexplainable.
Of course, those who have heard of it usually have an unfavorable view of it, thanks to some bad press Second Life got a few years ago.
What do I get out of it personally? Why is so much of my free time spent in Second Life?
A million things.
As an introvert, I get energy from being alone. It's not that I don't like people... on the contrary, actually. Human beings are fascinating.
And absolutely utterly exhausting.
I work with a lot of people, and I have a very large family. And they're all absolutely wonderful and I love them.
But at the end of the day, I need my me time.
I spend that time in different ways... reading, playing games... and Second Life.
I once tried to explain SL to a friend of mine and she just couldn't wrap her head around it. This friend always had a problem with my introversion... she was an extrovert and simply couldn't understand that where she draws energy from human interaction, it drains me. She also went home every evening and spent hours and hours and hours watching television.
I said, "You know, you spend all this time watching TV. Those hours you spend doing that, I spend in Second Life instead. And I'm actually interacting with real people when I'm doing it and not characters on a TV screen."
She didn't like that. Because she just didn't get it.
Second Life affords me the opportunity to get to know people from all over this planet of ours... know them intimately, in ways you just don't when you know someone in the real world. The veil of anonymity we have gives us the chance to be our best, truest, realest selves AND lets us share that with other people in a safe environment without fear of repercussion or judgment and know them in the same way.
Second Life also gives me confidence. Beth Macbain is gorgeous. And it carries over into the real world. When I log off, I still feel like Beth Macbain. I'm look in the mirror and it's my best self that I see. Beth Macbain is GREAT for my self esteem... lol.
And Second Life is just fun. I can travel anywhere in the universe with the click of a mouse. I see amazing creations and art installations. I can go dancing, snow skiing, scuba diving and explore another planet all in the course of an hour. I can travel back in time, or I can leap into the future. I'm an architect, interior designer, cover model, business woman, Martian, mermaid, astronaut... hell, I can be anything I want. I can see whatever I want.
And the people... I've got friends from all over the world that I actually get to see. I can go dancing with my friend from the Netherlands. Go horseback riding with a boyfriend that lives in the Caribbean. Lie on a sunny beach with someone that lives in Siberia. The possibilities are endless and the miles between us are meaningless.
So when people ask me "Why Second Life?" I ask them... "Why not?"
Is it any different, or better, or worse than watching television, or playing video games, or reading a book, or just staring at a wall? I'm neglecting nothing... this is my free time and my recreation.
And it's fabulous.