The other day i got an IM out of the blue from a stranger in SL. She had read my profile and wanted to discuss what i had written: “Started over a few months ago and thought i understood SL and all its ups and downs but realized how quickly you can get knocked down as soon as you think you’ve found your place in this exciting and frustrating world. Sometimes you meet people who you just connect with. Sometimes feeling like you have known them forever and sometimes they just “get you” when it feels like so many don’t. I am very lucky to have such friends, old and new, in my life and it is not something i take for granted.” This is something i wrote when it felt like things just kept going wrong in my SL. i felt down and wondering if this was all worth it and, well if you have read any of my previous posts you know how i felt. i guess i just never took the time to update my profile but then getting random IM’s from people who can relate or just want to discuss it is something i enjoy so i haven’t really been in a rush to change it.
Well anyway, what she wanted to discuss was her view on what i wrote, and her view being: Getting to know people in SL that are physically too far away from you to ever make it possible to have a RL relationship is a waste of time and will never work. Is that true? Is it impossible to make a relationship work in SL if you have no intention of transferring it into your RL? Or is it possible to have a happy relationship and even a better one in SL because we don’t have to fit it in with all the challenges and obligations of RL? Does a relationship in SL have to be moved into RL to survive? Well i suppose this is a question that has many answers depending on what SL is and means to you and i won’t even try to pretend i have the answer. i admit that at first i got a bit annoyed with the question, it felt like someone who doesn’t know me was judging my relationships, but taking a step back i suppose it is a valid question. i know it’s one that i have asked myself, especially on an off day when things felt like they just won’t go your way.
What i told her and what i will tell you is that i am from Sweden, only two other people on my friends list are from Sweden and everyone else is from other places around the world. The UK, Canada, The US, South Africa, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium and probably many more that i can’t think of right now. Kytten, one of my best friends since i first joined SL lives almost as far away from me as someone could, our time zones are not even close to working but still it works, we make it work the best way we can. i will probably never meet anyone of my SL friends in RL and it’s not something i think about because it doesn’t make any difference to me. They are all a huge part of my life, i make the time and effort to see them as often as i can, i share happy times and sad times with them and never once has that required us to be closer physically. They are there for me as i am for them and sure people leave SL and some come back and some don’t but that is not something we can’t walk around worrying about. i enjoy the time i have with them for the time i have it and nothing will ever change that.
When it comes to relationships of a more intense nature than friendship then? Well my Mistress does not live in Sweden but at the same time our time zones are as close as they can be without being one and the same. Did i choose that? No, does it help? Yes of course, it usually means it’s easier to see each other without staying up all night or changing your schedule around your SL just to get some time together. i am grateful that we get to spend as much time together as we do, i know not everyone is as fortunate and i also know how hard that can be. It would be easy for me to say that different time zones wouldn’t change anything between me and my Mistress, and i would like to think that if you find someone who lives on the other side of the world that you connect with you would still make it work, but i know it’s not always that easy. No matter how much you want it there will always be one more hurdle to jump over on top of everything else. But people do make it work because with SL that is still possible, you can still have a very intense, amazing, wonderful relationship, romantic or not, with people living so far away from you that you would have missed out on having them in your life if you didn’t have SL.
My personal opinion about this is that it all comes down to why you are in SL and what it means to you. We are all here for different reasons. If SL is a game to you, if you log in to “play” you might not be interested in maintaining relationships with people you meet, after all you’re only a character in a game, if you are here to be someone you’re not in RL, you might not want to open up and give others a chance to see the person behind the AV. If you on the other hand, like me, see SL as an extension of your RL, making friends and having relationships in SL is no different than RL. There is no right or wrong, after all SL is whatever you make of it and we are all here for different reasons. But of course talking about this brings up the question of physical touch. Can you have a D/s or a romantic relationship where touching, feeling, sensing things is such a huge part of your experience? If it’s a whip striking you, a hand spanking or caressing you or lips brushing against you, how can a virtual touch ever compare to a physical one, can it ever?
The mind can be a powerful tool, if someone touches me in RL and my mind is not in it, that touch is just a touch, but if my mind is in it all it takes is a person brushing against me for all my senses to react. How can that translate into a virtual world, a virtual touch? Being in SL you have to use the tools you have available to you, it means that other senses work harder. Watching a virtual person jump on a pose ball doesn’t in itself do anything to most of us. But if you use the most obvious tool you have in SL, communication, so much more of your mind gets involved.
One thing i’ve noticed is that in SL we communicate more, that is sort of obvious since we have to say everything we are doing or thinking, there is no reading of emotions or body language, there are only words. But words used the right way by someone important to you, words that involve your mind can make you feel things in a way i didn’t think was possible before SL. If we only focus on the limitations instead of using the possibilities there is a risk of missing out on all the amazing things available to us through virtual tools like SL. i admit that being on SL, communicating through violet, i have found myself laughing out loud in RL, blushing as things happening to violet is making me feel and react in RL, i have cried, smiled and many other things i won’t type out here 😉 and the thought of our bodies reacting to our minds is not that farfetched, at least not to me. What we feel for people in SL is not fake, to a lot of us it is very real, SL or RL it’s still me.
A lot of people also add another RL element to it all, RL tasks. Quite common in especially D/s relationships in SL is to set tasks to be performed in RL, it can be tasks to do when not online or things you do as you are online to enhance the feeling and bring SL closer to RL, feeling what your AV is feeling, doing what your AV is doing. But i will leave my thoughts on that to another post 🙂 So can a relationship in SL survive without moving it into RL? In my opinion, yes it can if we don’t see it as replacing the ones we have in RL. Me, i want both, i need both and i have decided not to focus on the limitations but on the possibilities because i know it’s worth it.