Thursday, November 26, 2015

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

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.
Yes, the character I've chosen is very similar to RL Beth in a lot of ways. I do try to stay pretty true to myself, on the inside. Physically, I certainly don't look a thing like SL Beth... maybe when I was in my early 20s, but certainly not as 46 year old RL Beth.

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.
I had the chance about a year ago to travel to meet a couple people I met in SL. Musicians. Completely PG, I was just going to go hang out while they jammed. One of them I'd even talked to one the phone a couple of times... I remember it well because when I answered the phone, she said "OMG, you really are a chick!"

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!
And it's fun to be sexy as fuck in these virtual photos of a virtual girl. I do think there is an artistry to it... something I practice and am constantly learning new things about. A hobby within a hobby? And it's very much part of the character of Beth Macbain. She's a very sexually liberated, open-minded woman. RL Beth is, too... on the inside. It's not something I play out in RL. It's been so long since I've had actual sex with a real life human being I might as well be a born-again virgin. I'm old. I'm a fat middle aged woman who is too damn tired at the end of the work day, or work week, to bother with exploring any kind of real life sex life. I come home and change into my pajamas immediately. And they aren't sexy pajamas, either. Any make-up that I haven't already rubbed off during the day gets scrubbed off. Hair gets piled into a messy ponytail. I curl up on the couch to greet the cats and start chain-smoking. I eat something wildly unhealthy and check Reddit and Buzzfeed and Facebook. I play some games on my iPad while listening to the news in the background. Eventually, I'll either log into SL or find something on Netflix to binge on.

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).
SL Beth is definitely a part of RL Beth, but it's only one small part... and a part that I don't let bleed over into my RL too much.

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.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fuck your Exclusives

So I'm a Belleza mesh body girl.
It isn't that I don't like the Maitreya body - I do. It's perfectly lovely. I even bought it. It's delightful... on others. It's just not for me.

And when I see an item for sale somewhere and it says "Exclusive for Maitreya", it says to me that this designer doesn't want my money.

What an odd thing! I have money, I want to spend money... but you don't want my money?

I don't quite understand what's going on. I know there are politics involved and I've read a few things here and there about the mesh body creators not giving out developer kits to every Tom, Dick and Harry that wants one.
I imagine there's a lot of "I'll give you my kit but you have to agree not to use so-and-so's kit."

I'm not sure why the designers are agreeing to this blackmail, if that's what's happening.

In my mind, there are 3 viable choices for the women's mesh body - Belleza, Maitreya and Slink. I know there are many others, but I count those as the big three. There's another popular one, but I don't include them because I think their method of doing business is scammy as fuck.

I don't know any of the creators behind those three bodies, other than a couple chats with Tricky Boucher of Belleza. I hear lovely things about Siddean Munro, but I've never spoken to her. Until the Venus came out, I was head over heels in love with my Slink hands and feet but don't need them anymore with the Venus. I don't even know who the creator is behind Maitreya... Onyx something-or-other?
I've read some troubling things, though. I have no idea what's true and what isn't but let me be very clear... I don't care.

I don't care.

I. don't. care.

Whatever politicking is going on behind the scenes, I don't give one single shit... except it's inhibiting my ability to spend money.

And I like to spend money.

I'm not a fashion blogger, I don't get freebies or gifts. I buy everything I have.
It makes absolutely no sense to me that the mesh body creators aren't handing out developer kits left and right. Sure, I sort of get that they want to maintain some quality control because there are some shitty ass clothing designers out there. But so what?! If people want to wear shitty clothes, let them. Money is money, right?

I probably should have tried to speak to some of the folks making these decisions before posting this. Tricky, Siddean, Onyx. And maybe some of the designers, too, to try to find out what is going on. Especially those who are designing the exclusives.

But again... I don't care.

I just want you to make clothing for my particular mesh body. And the other ones, too, so we can ALL spend our money and fill the pockets of the designers so they'll keep creating for us.

By designing exclusives, you're cutting out entire segments of the market that want to give you money.
And if one of the mesh body creators gets shitty about it and doesn't want to give you a kit because you won't agree to be exclusive, fuck 'em. If enough designers stand up and say no, well, that's going to be money out of the pocket of the body creators... few people are going to buy a mesh body that they can't shop for.

If it hits them where it counts, they'll stop demanding this exclusive bullshit. 

I'm getting sick and damn tired of going to event after event after event with my lindens clutched in my lovely mesh hand and not being able to spend them because of items designed for one particular mesh body. Why the hell are event organizers allowing those designers into their events unless it's an event specifically for that body? If your item isn't designed for the wider audience, stay the hell out of events.

Since you're so damn exclusive, your exclusive customers can go to your exclusive store and buy your exclusive items.
And I know it's a pain for the designers to have to create all the different sizes for all the different mesh bodies... but you know what? If you do, I will pay for it. Up your prices, if that makes it worth your while. When I find something that fits my body perfectly, I'll spend the money to get it. In several different colors even. Sometimes I'll spring for a fatpack if it's something amazing. So go ahead and charge what you feel is fair for the work you put in.

I want more clothes. I WANT MORE CLOTHES.

It's really that simple. I want more clothes and I'm willing to spend the money to get them.

Tricky and Onyx need to stop holding their developer kits hostage. I don't include Siddean in this because I've not noticed it so much with Slink. Just for shits and giggles, I tried to apply for a developer's kit from Belleza because I wanted to see what was involved in the application and agreement designers have to sign. But you know what? APPLICATIONS ARE CLOSED.

What? WHAT? Why? Why the fuck are applications closed? In fairness, I checked out Maitreya and Slink, too. Maitreya and Slink both seem to have applications open but both make it clear that not everyone will get the kit.

What I really don't understand is why there even needs to be an application. Just let designers have the damn kits. 

Again, as a consumer, I don't give a single shit about the reasons. I just want to buy things. ALL THE THINGS.
The consumers are the losers here. Followed by the clothing designers. A couple of mesh body creators are holding all the cards.

And that's a damn shame, when the SL economy isn't exactly booming like it was a few years ago. These people are purposely inhibiting the market for their own selfish reasons, be it artistic or simple greed. 

But it's going to bite them in the ass. In the short-term, they may think they're doing the right thing by holding their developer kits. But if they're in it for the long haul, they are simply going to have to accept that there is, and will always be, competition. That's the beauty of the free market. 

There will always be those who choose the buy the cheapest things... or, that's all they can afford and that's fine, too. Not everyone has the pocket money to spend in SL on clothing. But in the same vein, there will always be those who will pay for quality. 

The mesh body creators are simply going to have to let up. The crappy ass clothing designers are already out there half-assing it by trying to make clothing without the kits. This just makes it look worse... the clothing looks shitty on the body and, in turn, that makes the body look shitty.
This dress... god. How many "designers" have bought this template, re-textured it and slapped it on the MP? I tried a couple demos and it looks awful - at least, it looks awful on me. And there seems to be hundreds of them.

And that makes the body creators look shitty because their logos are all over it. Since I can't find the original template maker's name on any list of official designers, I'm assuming he's just winging it without any official kit.  

So release the damn kits and let people figure it out on their own. I won't buy something without a demo. If it looks like crap, I won't buy it. Eventually, that's going to separate the wheat from the chaff. The bad designers will get left in the dust by the good ones... and the body creators will come out on top because more people will be buying their bodies if there is more selection in clothing. 

What can we, as consumers, do about this situation? I'm certain that any of the big creators would be most happy if we switched to their bodies simply because of the availability of clothing. 

I'm not going to do that. I love the way the Belleza Venus looks on me and I'm not going to be pushed into wearing different bodies like I wear different shoes just so I can wear something from an "exclusive" designer. 

I suppose all we can do is yell and hope they listen. 

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