To Orb Or Not To Orb, That Is The Question…

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And it’s a question that I’ve never had to ask myself, until now.
In all my years of being a Second Life resident (almost 8 years now, eeep!), I’ve never been especially harassed by trespassers at my various abodes. Sure, a few times I’ve rezzed into my home-space and found someone enjoying my furniture and epic decorating skills (obviously!), but it’s never troubled me enough to want to inflict ban lines (urgh) on my neighbours, or invest in a security device. The prompt for this change of opinion occurred two nights ago. I logged in at my new residence, a beautiful Brownstone that I recently took ownership of in the delightful Sunshine Mist community. I had coveted these residences from afar, because I particularly love Harlow Heslop’s epic landscaping skills, so when one became available I jumped at the opportunity to rent. I wanted to feel a sense of community, especially as we enter the Holiday season, and the idea of having neighbours again appealled to me. As I write I’m still busily moving my stuff (read: cats) into the property, and it’s fabulous fun.

I’m incredibly fussy when it comes to virtual home-making, it has to be *just* right (I’m a Virgo, ’nuff said) so I’m having a grand-old time making the space feel like home. All the pleasure, with none of the pain (Although fitting virtual curtains is a challenge and a half, let me tell you! )I find decorating virtual houses exceptionally relaxing after a long, hard day in teh real world, and I take great pleasure from it, as I’m sure regular readers can tell. One of my favourite toys as a child was my doll’s house, and I think my love for that has somehow relocated into the virtual world. It’s incredibly relaxing decorating from behind a keyboard, and there are some absolutely amazing items in Second Life that you can decorate with ( I relish my daily read of LTD!).   and, for me, it’s chill out time. Behind the screen in real life I’m enjoying a brew and listening to music,on-screen I’m moving a wardrobe or changing the colour of the cushions at the touch of a button. It’s bliss, it really is, and it makes me so happy.

So I was a little rattled when my home was, for want of a better phrase, intruded upon.  I logged in, and as soon as I did I realised someone was in the house. At this point I wasn’t concerned, and soon identified that my visitor was sat on my kitchen sofa, drinking a cup of tea. I wandered down the steps and into the kitchen-space, and as I did so the rather well-dressed intruder jumped to her feet. Now, at this point I wasn’t angry, nor was I considering making a fuss. I was (if anything), curious, and had things progressed a different way I’d have sat next to her on said sofa and poured her another cup. She was no newbie, not by the way she was dressed, that’s for sure. She was sporting a quality skin, and a retro look; in other words, the kind of look that would take time to perfect. Yet, according to her account, she was three days old?!

If my name was Alice, I would have probably said, “Curiouser and curiouser!” but it’s not, it’s Kitty.

I actually saved the chat-log, but I’m not going to name names, because I think I was dealing with an alt.Not only that, but an alt who either didn’t have English as a first language, or who was actually taking the piss, and not in a funny way. (All spelling appears as it did in-world. Comments afterwards are obviously mine:) 

[10:42] Kitty Otoole: Hello:)
[10:42] XXXXX: Hi do you live here?
[10:42] XXXXX: Cause I move hear alredy (Really? So that’s why the house was empty when I moved in..)
[10:43] Kitty Otoole: Hi, yes, moved in yesterday
[10:43] XXXXX: so can you go please not saying in a bad way  (I’m glad she wasn’t saying it in a bad way because, you know, I might have taken offence…)
[10:43] Kitty Otoole: Oh! Did Harlow Know? ( At this point, gullible Kitty that I am, I thought there had been a genuine mistake. That thought lasted a nanosecond..)
[10:43] XXXXX: yes (Fib! Fibby fib-fib!)
[10:43] Kitty Otoole: Oh ( I’m realising this is definitely a fib)
[10:43] XXXXX: So please.. (Detecting odd sense of desperation..)
[10:44] Kitty Otoole: Well I’d better have a word with her, so I can get my money back ( I put this out there because obviously I had paid rent upfront, and my mysterious visitor had not..)
[10:44] XXXXX: well ok (Ooh! Seems almost legit!)
[10:44] XXXXX: bye (RUDE)
[10:44] Kitty Otoole: You’d better return all my stuff as well (Bear in mind here peeps, she’s sat enjoying a rather lovely BAZAR kitchen, along with all my accessories, some epic NYLON PINKNEY artwork and a few cats. As well as a cup of tea.)
[10:44] XXXXX: no plaese (Eh?)
[10:44] XXXXX: i dont know were to live (No, but you know where to shop judging by that outfit/hairstyle/skin..)
[10:45] XXXXX: so can we live together tham (Hmm, how do I put this? NOPE.)
[10:45] XXXXX: please (A minute ago you were telling me to go, now you’re asking if you can stay?!)
At this point, I lost the plot. I don’t normally, I’m usually very easy-going and wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, I was feeling played here, and a tad pissed off. Had I not been tired and grumpy I might NOT have done this, and I’m NOT proud of it….
[10:45] Kitty Otoole: Go and find your own place like everyone else does.
[10:45] Second Life: Avatar ejected.

And that was the end of that. Two minutes of banter before I ban-hammered.

And you know what? I felt SO GUILTY. Did I over react? I mean this is a virtual world after all, so does it really matter that much?

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Well, actually, yes it does. I’ve paid rent, bought furniture and invested in the Second Life economy. Had my intruder been a genuine newb I would have perhaps offered some advice about the best way to interact in Second Life (As I poured another cup of tea and offered them a biscuit of course. I’m nothing if not a cordial host!) But my visitor was, quite obviously, not being genuine with me.

Perhaps I’m just too trusting, and perhaps I assume incorrectly that everyone thinks the same as I do, that it IS possible to cultivate respect for fellow virtual citizens, just like your real life peers. But you know, this has started me questioning my own judgement, and now, for the first time in my virtual life, I’m considering installing a security device. And I really don’t like that thought at all. I’m having a virtual-existential crisis here guys!

Thing is, I LOVE seeing how people have decorated their virtual abodes, and I enjoy nothing more than wandering a sim and drooling over the interior ideas I spy around every corner but I set myself hard and fast rules. I always check if someone is in their home before I cam-in, and I NEVER go into a property uninvited. (Probably the only trait I share with a vampire!) But perhaps even that is too much, and I’m no better than my uninvited house-guest?

I get that Second Life can be daunting to a new member, and it can be expensive and alienating as well as welcoming and exciting, but just because this is a world of pixels and polygons it doesn’t mean we have to leave our manners at the log-in screen. 

So the question remains, leave my house as is knowing that people will be able to enjoy it when I’m not around (something I’ve never had a problem with before), or do I hit the marketplace, and buy a security orb?

 Readers, how do you feel about your virtual home? What do you think, am I over-reacting, or is this actually an issue that deserves more consideration? 

Berry’s Memes: Best & Worst Meme

Time for another Blogger Challenge !

I’ve not completed one of these for a while, and this was a nice one to have a think about.  Many thanks to the ever-fabulous Strawberry Singh for providing this Meme! 

What is the best thing about Second Life?

There’s so much! For me, it allows me to just switch my RL brain off and engage with the virtual world as Kitty for a while, so that means shopping, dressing up and taking photographs, decorating a virtual space and exploring amazing locations. I love it; I still find so much new stuff to enjoy after almost 7 years in the world!

Worst thing about Second Life? 

DRAMA. Causing a fuss about nothing and hiding behind a keyboard is one of my pet-hates in the virtual world that I call home.  As I said in my recent 1500th blog-post there needs to be a lot more love and a lot less hate in Second Life right now, and trust me when I say that drama, and those who cultivate it, are always best avoided.

What’s the best thing in my inventory?

You know, I don’t think I can choose just one thing because I have new favourites practically every day! I think this year has been all about the Bazar Arizona house for me, so that’s definitely one of the best things in my inventory, even though I’m not living in it at the moment. What, you didn’t know? Shock horror! (There’s a blog post coming soon about my change of dwelling, although truth be told I miss my Arizona house..)

What’s the worst thing in my inventory?  

It’s probably a gesture. Oh my, can you remember when gestures were a thing? They were so annoying! I’ve been to so many gigs in the past where gestures spoiled the sets because people just wouldn’t quit it with them, especially a silly whip-cracking sound and action that used to drive me insane.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned because of SL?

 I’ve learned lots of things through my involvement in Second Life actually! For example, I’ve learned how to use WordPress through my blogging, and basic photo improvement and enhancement for the images that I feature on my blog.  I’ve acquired basic building skills in the world too, and although I will never create masterpieces I know enough for my own needs and requirements. (In other words, I know how to make a box. YAY ME!) You know there are probably lots of skills that I’ve acquired over the years through my involvement in this mad environment that we call home, and I’ve never really thought about it until now.  Wow!

What’s the worst thing you learned because of SL?

The realisation that haters are gonna hate, real life or Second Life or both.

Unfortunately, some do it incredibly well in both lives, but I reserve a special kind of loathing for people who generate shit-storms in Second Life as you can probably tell.

What’s the best thing about blogging? 

The best thing for me is when people like a post that I have written and they care enough to share that with me. Also, I’ve received some lovely notecards over the years from content creators thanking me for featuring their work, and I treasure those.  Receiving a blogging package always gives me a buzz, that’s never gone away, and being selected to blog an event is especially rewarding, although it can be stressful too  because you desperately want to do a good job for the event and the people that selected you. But most of all I love it when I’m writing about something that I’ve found in world and I know it’s fabulous and really want everyone else to see how amazing it is. I get a real buzz from that; blogging is my equivalent of jumping up and down on the spot whilst pointing and shouting “Look! LOOK AT THIS THING!! Isn’t it AMAZING?!” I’m like a kid in a sweetie shop when I have my blog-happy on!

What is the worst thing about blogging?

For me, it’s missing self-imposed deadlines and being my own worst critic. I’m a typical Virgo when it comes to self-critique!

Then there’s the panic that sets in when you haven’t had time to blog, and the feeling of failure when I go through one of my ‘bloggers block’ periods, and sadly there have been a couple of those over the years.  Also, it really annoys me when  people assume that I make money from blogging! I’ve had a few people seriously believe that I am paid for this, and nothing could be further from the truth! Also, I dislike it when people assume that EVERYTHING you blog about has been gifted to me. This year (my sixth year of blogging) has been my most fruitful in terms of items received, BUT I would say compared to other bloggers I receive very little. But that’s not a complaint on my part; I am always grateful for anything I receive and always try my best to blog what I get, although of course that’s not always possible.  I don’t like approaching designers and asking for items to blog either; although I have done it a few times this year in response to being invited to do so.  To be frank, I’d far rather retain my autonomy, and the creator be paid for their amazing work.

Best thing to have with french toast? 

And here’s where I lose some of my allure….what’s french toast?

Is it like eggy bread?! Look, I’m Northern, we don’t have french toast! We have crumpets or toasted teacakes or toast and jam, we don’t have french toast around these ‘ere parts!

Worst thing to have with french toast?

Seeing as I’m not sure exactly what it is, I’m going to say the worst thing is probably….spam.  I don’t imagine spam would go down very well with it at all! (That is, if French toast is what I think it is..)

OOOH HANG ON!! Berry said: “..The twist is, the final question you need to change and make up your own best & worst that you want to share..”

Right, scratch the french toast answer. Let me try again:

Best thing in the world ever? 

TEA.

Worst thing in the world ever? 

NO TEA.

There you go, simples! Be sure to pop on over to Berry’s Blog to see all the other participant answers!

Kitty’s 1500th Blog Post!

Snapshot_011Can you believe that this is my 1500th post on the blog? 

Blimey! I wanted to write something suitably awesome to mark the occasion, but quite honestly I can’t think of anything windswept and interesting to post at the moment.  I’m still recovering from the worst cold I’ve had in an age in real life, and it’s really taken a toll on me. Ghastly germs!So instead of my writing a post about something new, a place to visit or an item that you must own, I have a favour to ask.  Second Life, as we all know by now, is a wonderful place to meet and mingle, and we sometimes take our chats off-line onto various forums like Plurk, Facebook and SLUniverse to name a few. However, oftentimes there’s a lot of drama and negativity played out upon these spaces.

I’ve said it before, but I really don’t understand why people hiding behind a keyboard think it gives them free reign to insult, belittle or be downright rude to people.  It’s one thing to have an opinion, but quite another to share it in a hurtful way. It’s such a simple phrase, but the saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it” springs to mind.

It’s easy to make fun of other avatars. Heck, I was doing it myself yesterday, I’m not innocent of such immature behaviour.  But after I’d done it, I actually thought what a mean thing it was to do. Even though they will never know, my words are still out there, floating in cyberspace. And I should know better.   Just because someone chooses to express themselves in a certain way in-world it doesn’t give me, or anyone else, the right to make fun of them. We’re as diverse in the metaverse as we are in the universe, and I should be more mindful of that.

So, starting right now, I want us all to be a little more Second Life Conscious.

Words on a screen have just as much power, if not a little more, than words spoken out loud.  We live in an age of  ever-present criticism and condemnation through social media and where does that lead to? Hatred and misunderstanding.  It’s not wrong to say that we need to spread more love in the virtual world, and it doesn’t have to be the kind that requires a Hud or a Poseball.  Spread the Second Life Love! Let’s be more mindful of what we say in our virtual spaces, and how we present ourselves. Would you say that in real life? Why is it OK to say something in a virtual world that you would never say in the real one? Think on that point for a moment.Be graceful.  Manners are NOT a bad thing, they exist for a reason.  Let’s show gratitude to creators instead of constantly criticising. If you buy something and you really love it, drop them a few lines on a notecard and tell them!

People are quick to complain, but rarely as quick to congratulate.

The next time you are in a crowded area in Second Life, or at an event, take a good long look at the avatars that surround you. Read the profiles, snoop if you will, and then PAY SOMEONE A COMPLIMENT.

It doesn’t have to be over-stated either. In fact, this is something that I have been doing for a while now; it’s sort of a Second Life spiritual practise, and not only do you make someone feel good by doing it, you’ll feel pretty good yourself too. Double win!

So, what kind of things do you say?  Here’s an example: Yesterday I spotted an amazing avatar when I was shopping in ISON. In private chat I messaged the avatar and wrote, very simply, “I love your avatar!”  This was a genuine compliment, straight from my heart.  I really liked the way that her avatar was styled, and also because she was unusual.  She had an aged look to her, something that you really don’t see in Second Life that often. I very quickly received a delighted response. “Wow! Thank you so much for saying that!” and that was it. I had a smile on my real life chops, and I’m pretty sure she did too. It was THAT simple.

Of course, you could follow these words up and enter into a conversation, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Oftentimes I just follow my compliments with the phrase “YVW! (You’re very welcome)” or “NP (No Problem) Have a great day!” and that’s that.

It’s such a simple thing to do yet it REALLY does make such a difference. And if you aren’t doing this already (I’m sure some people reading this probably are) then I’d like you to please, give it a go.

Because I know from my own experience that it will make difference, so imagine what will happen if we all start to do this!

OK, in the grand scheme of things this isn’t earth-shattering or life-changing, but imagine how you will feel in a week if you’ve been practising this every day? And even more importantly, imagine how you will have made other people feel too! So please, spread the word.  Instead of turning up at an event, camming around, making a few purchases and leaving, next time take a peek at the avatars around you. Is there one who stands out? Do they have a really great sense of style that you admire? Or are they just incredibly cute and have impressed you with their look? TELL THEM! There’s nothing creepy about a quick compliment, and you may make a real difference to their day.  Plus you get to speak to some pretty amazing people too. (Well, I say people, yesterday I complimented a giant hamster on his cuteness. I think he was pleased!)

We’re a community, and in a metaverse as disparate as ours it’s easy to forget that. With the festive season of goodwill fast approaching, let’s start early in-world, and spread the love.

Thank you for sticking with Kittywitchin’ through 1500 blog posts. Here’s to the next 1500 and beyond! 

(PS If you DO follow the steps above, please share your experiences in the comments below.)