Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can SL and RL truly be seperate from each other?

Here is the Mix'n Match blog swap (Web) post from Stuart Warf of The Insane Life of Stuart Warf (Web).

When I was assigned this topic of "Can SL and RL be truly kept separate?" My instant reaction was to say that they can't be separate. In the current state of technology it is hard to keep something like SL and RL separate. But then it dawned on me that my situation isn't entirely the same as others in Second Life.

Now there are many reasons why somebody would want to keep their Second Life separate from their Real Life. A simple example of this could be that the person just wants their right to privacy. There are multiple reasons why an avatar would want privacy though. Someone could have a high profile job in some area and want Second Life as an escape without anyone finding out who they are. Some companies do have policies that require them to say who they work for in their contract which can cause all sorts of issues and see it fitting to just not mention who they are in order to maintain a simple life and escape.

In todays digital climate it's hard for someone to keep their real life identity a secret once they have revealed it, thanks to things like Google. So people who are aware of this decide to just keep their real life information separate from their virtual life.

Another way in which SL and RL can be separate is via roleplaying sims where you can act out a different life as a character and interact with a world. Examples of this could be the fantasy world of Avillion or the Star Wars world of Little Mos Eisley.

However there are many beinifits to not keeping SL and RL separate. Depending on what you do outside of the virtual world, you can be more open about who you are as a person in reality. A great example of where this typically happens in social networks like Facebook. Social networks like these can help you get to know your SL friends more and maybe even make new friends.

Other ways to interact with other avatars are microblogging websites such as Twitter and Plurk. Not only can these services give you another communication window into peoples lives.

When I look at who are probably the most open of avatars in Second Life I think these people are the podcasters, bloggers and active community members. Podcasters love to talk openly about things which says to me that they are also open in Real Life about their Second Lives.

Personally I think that SL and RL can be separate if you really try it but you limit yourself to what you can do in the virtual world. What I mean by being limited is that you miss out on a lot of the things you could enjoy in the world. If your trying to cut your real life off and be someone totally different in Second Life then ultimately it won't last forever. You can easily not tell people your in Second Life in real life but that can cause problems and that's why I figured that when I entered the world, I'd talk about it to friends and family.

Another thing that I've found while being in the virtual worlds is that aspects of it changed me in real life. I have become increasingly confident towards people (and I know that this has also happened to friends on mine in Second Life as well) and I truly believe that because of things like this that SL and RL cannot be separate.


Learning Teacher said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Stuart! I appreciated them as this is a topic I've been thinking about for awhile now. It just seems very difficult to keep both worlds completely separate -- I think most of us cannot help but reveal a little about our RL selves, even if it is just to mention on Plurk what we are having for dinner!


Uccello Poultry said...

Romantic relationships are difficult to have without mixing realities. Cuddling with someone you love naturally leads to conversations of time outside Second Life® (SL) because the level of caring goes so deep. Much easier to be anonymous or aloof with casual acquaintances. One person in-world that is not a blood relative knows my full Real Life (RL) name. Probably three know my RL first name. A few dozen know I live in Maine, USA. Well, probably more now :::giggle:::

It all boils down to privacy and trust. It is not easy to tap on people in RL and read Profile information. But it is very easy to look at those blank spaces in our SL profiles and feel the need to fill them.

BTW - Thanks, Stuart, for such a thought-provoking post. I'm glad I was involved in the Mix'n Match and I hope everyone gets a chance to read more blogs.