In Second Life, there is a lot more communication. Oh, sure, people can spend endless hours clicking on pose balls, but, even in spite of that, there is far more communication going around. In fact, as many sexual workers in SL have reported, it’s not about the way you look (because everybody can look sexy in SL), but the way you talk — or write. Not surprisingly, sex workers in SL are prolific writers, tend to have awesomely well-written blogs, and, when they do “serious” discussion events in SL, they’re among the most interesting and well attended. This is a very unique characteristic of virtual worlds, as well as of online communities who use mostly text (and perhaps a few images) to communicate: “sexy” people are the ones who know how to best write erotically. And that’s hard to do. Specially because in the real world we don’t tend to have much “training” in that — but, of course, dating sites like Facebook (or IRC in the 1990s) are changing all that: we pick partners for the interesting things they say.
Still, if you’re not used to that — and if, for you, a “relationship” is merely “doing things together” — then coming into SL can be a huge shock. For some, the complete inversion in values is too drastic to grasp, and they might leave in shock; for others it might become “addictive”, in the sense that if you’re not gorgeous-looking in RL, and have few interests in “going out and do things”, but are a good writer, you’re suddenly a SL sex symbol. That can be very addictive for sure.
It’s a strange world. But perhaps not so strange. However, this “excuse” of labeling “SL is a game” in order to protect oneself and objectify everybody else, thus detaching completely from the strong and intense emotional mess one has gone through — well, that’s simply denial. But a very persuasive form of denial. Everybody — specially our friends, relatives, acquaintances — will silently nod agreement, if we tell them that “SL is a game, everybody is pretending, so it’s stupid to establish meaningful relationships there” — because that’s what people’s expectations are: virtual worlds are fantasy, escapism, and places where morons or mentally disturbed people go to have some fun.
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