Before becoming a resident of Second Life, I was unsure exactly what it was and what I had to do there. I wasn’t sure whether it would be more like a game or just a place to hangout on the Internet. I quickly realized SL was not like any other computer activity ever before; it was more like as the title suggests. Second Life is a different world that closely mimics real life and provides real experiences over the internet. One of the most important parts of SL involves the real experience of altering your appearance. People change their appearances, from the clothes on their back to the motion they make when they walk, all for fitting in with the rest of those in SL. Many people will often times dress a certain way to be accepted in some group or be accepted by society in general. Where SL differs is that people usually dress in something they would never wear in real life. How often could I walk into public places wearing a full body banana suit costume? SL allows for an altered view of reality where any style of appearance is accepted as normality. Only when something is especially normal is it seen as different.

My journey, as does everyone else’s, began at Orientation Island. This place is more or less a gathering of n00bs that continually bang into each other and other various objects. I literally had no idea what to do, where to go, or even what controls to use. I eventually found the search function and was able to teleport to different areas; the first couple locations being my favorite ball club’s new stadium, Yankee Stadium, and the Sistine Chapel on Vassar College’s campus.

From here I went on a journey to find a set of clothes. I originally found a sweet pair of sneakers, jeans, a nice polo shirt and a hat. It may have looked good in real life, but in SL it was too normal. The only thing that gave my avatar, Hennessy Harbour, any kind of edge was the cigarette that he continually smoked. After realizing that my avatar was extremely normal, I went straight to a costume shop. Since then, I have strolled around in a full body banana suit costume drinking a glass of cognac. It is not like this was a quick process either. It took me hours to find clothing shops that I liked and also had good quality. What I’m saying is that in both our real life and SL, we try to distinguish ourselves from everyone else, whether it be 60,000 avatars or 6 billion people.

Second_Life_pic_1.jpg Here is a picture of me in a tiny room I found in a hole in the ground.

I find that SL is more than just a way for people to recreate themselves into something they wouldn’t normally be. This is just an added benefit. SL has gotten its popularity because it can mimic real world communication, a more human experience, over regular online communication systems, like IM. Residents enjoy the amazing amount of customizations that can take place, but they are really there to socialize in a variety of interesting settings. Socializing in SL was a little awkward for me at first. It mostly involved asking strangers how to perform certain functions. It was a bit of a nuisance not knowing what to do when stuck in the riding a scooter position with no actual scooter to sit on. Since I’ve started, everyone I have talked to has been very kind, but I don’t think even the so-called greifers could be as bad as their name suggests. Because we still have the same protection as regular Internet communication, any potentially dangerous situation can be avoided by logging off or teleporting to any of the myriad amount of locations.

Although I see tons of room for improvement on Second Life, some experiences can only be really replicated by experiencing them in real life. As we saw in Into the Wild, Grizzley Man, and Walden, these men were looking for a world of solidarity with nature. Second life does involve venturing into new areas but does not require nearly the risk those men put on the line. Residents of SL are looking to disguise themselves and share their experiences with others, while these men were looking to take their own isolated invented worlds to new extremes. We are now in an age where efficiency is a must. Second Life may one day become that place for both the economical consumer and the environmentalist. SL will attract those who want to save money on travel costs as well as those who think oil-burning machines are ruining our real world. Second Life is just a small piece of the pie that future technologies may evolve into.

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