When I logged in to Plurk this morning I had a bit of a shock.
My dearest, closest Second Life buddy had deleted her Second Life account overnight.
To be frank, it was something I had had an inkling that may happen, but not with such finality. I’d envisioned her taking a break from Second Life, but her leaving it entirely didn’t enter my mind. Second Life was too important to her to warrant such drastic action, and besides, she’d built up a formidable reputation in-world and had a large network of friends. But her heart was broken. You see, no matter what people say about virtual worlds, the emotions are VERY real. Some people do play at the emotional game, but for others the feelings are genuine. Behind every avatar is a real person after all.
In November 2009 my friend was married in Second Life, something that she took incredibly seriously, and she lived a deliriously happy virtual experience with her partner.
Then, fifteen weeks ago, her partner stopped logging in-world.
There was no warning, nothing to indicate anything was wrong.
Of course in real life this would be alarming, terrifying even, and it was just the same in-world. Seeing my poor friend in such pain with no way of knowing what had happened to her partner was simply dreadful.
Each day she would log-in hoping for a sign that her beloved had been in-world. A message, even if it was just to say that she was OK but wouldn’t be coming back, would have been horrendous to receive, but better than nothing.
All these weeks my pal has lingered in-world, hoping for a sign that her partner would return, but there has been no communication. No note, no message; it’s as though her partner had never existed.
My buddy’s enthusiasm for the virtual world she called home inevitably started to wane. How could she enjoy the metaverse without her dear partner her side?
Her decision to leave Second Life has left me bereft, but acutely aware of the impact a virtual relationship can have.
If you are going to enter into a serious relationship in Second Life I implore you to please set some ground rules, such as these:
- If you commit to another avatar realise that you aren’t just doing this in a virtual environment but also, to some extent, in a real-life environment too. Establish your boundaries early in the relationship.
- Just as you should always be genuine about your feelings in real life, be clear about them in Second Life.
- If you enter a relationship with someone in the metaverse then PLEASE set ground-rules for your relationship and stick to them like glue. You are dealing with people’s emotions after all, to do anything else would be cruel.
- PLEASE have some sort of real-life contact system in place. Even if your relationship is only based in Second Life, please try and have a way of communicating outside of it in case of emergencies. For example, have an e-mail address that you can use if something happens and you won’t be able to log-in world for a time, or ask a trusted mutual friend to assist you in keeping the lines of communication open between you.
- If you decide to leave Second Life for whatever reason you OWE it to your partner to share with them the reasons why. It’s common decency, and no matter how difficult it may be to do this it’s necessary to allow them to move forward and get over the relationship. Yes, you may hurt them in the short term, but better that than leaving them to worry and wonder for months and even years to come.
Fortunately I know that I have made a dear friend for life whom I will be able to keep in touch with outside of Second Life, but it pains me that I won’t have the pleasure of her company as an avatar ever again.We’d been friends for a very long-time in-world, and made a lot of happy memories, so it is very hard saying goodbye, but I understand why she has made the decision to do this, and I can only wish her love and happiness in her future, something that she truly deserves.
So long Cyberpink, I will miss you xxx