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reSLience… a.k.a. resilience

it's what lies within that really matters

Second Life is an experience. It is a tool. It is a game. It is a place for wish fulfillment and imagination. For everyone who creates an avitar, it has a different expectation. Amazingly enough, it can be each of those things. Second Life has the ability to offer each a unique experience depending on what the individual intended it to be.

It is a place of business and commerce. It is a place for collaboration and education. It is a place for creativity. It is a place fo recreation. It can be a blend of any and all. It most definitely is an experience that evolves with you.

I have been in SL now for a little over a year. With my background in online professional development, I created an avitar and began my explorations with education in mind. I had been involved with Stanford/NSF’s TappedIn and enjoyed the experiences I had there. I had participated in online conferences such as the Illinois Online conference for educators. I have designed multiple online course environments for educators in Moodle and Blackboard. I have participated in hundreds of webinars and been an avid user of instant message. I understood SL to be an amazing combination of all these things. And, over the past year and a few, I have learned it is all those forms most definitely. Those, and more.

The ISTE sim and Eduisland were my first stops after leaving Orientation Island. I was akward and noobish of course, but I didn’t know any different. I was fascinated but clumsy and figured I could take it or leave it. If I had trouble, how could teachers who struggled with other online experiences ever grow in SL professionally. I left my avitar and went back to the other forms of professional development I was familiar with. Then, a funny thing called summer vacation happened.

Dave had also made an avitar that day and explored with me. He too let his just sit until close to his birthday when I came home from work one day to find him telling me he wanted to just get Lindens for his birthday and have a premium SL account. Yes, it was Bigd that pulled me back into SL with a new set of glasses on. He had found some rock n roll hangouts where you could dance and had met people from Europe. He had enjoyed his explorations and wanted me to try. I laughed at the new interest thinking how he had been obsessed with fantasy league baseball online each summer prior and I figured this could be something new we could try together.

You know the rest of the story really. I have blogged numerous entries over the past 6 months about my journeys in SL. I have met fantastic people. I have made friendships that will be a part of my life for a long time (imaginary or not, heehee). I have explored virtual replicas of places I may never travel to in RL. I have attended so many parties and events that my social life in SL can almost been seen as exhausting. For a busy working mom with 4 kids and a great husband and career, I live vicariously through my avitar. You would laugh – but it is fun. It is selfishly fun and that was something my life never had before. I’m a fixer and a doer – and my life up until this point – my RL life was about doing just that – for anyone and everyone in my life – personal and professional. SL became a place just for me. Better than Diner Dash, I didn’t have to just obsess over a higher score on the screen, I could explore and meet, I could laugh and I could enjoy music. I honestly had forgotten how much I just love to soak up good music.

I have experienced friendships and heartache. I think that is always involved when people come together. Sociologically and psychologically you can easily dissect the process. There is a norming process whereby all ways of interacting are defined – formally and informally – the social order is established, roles are set. This happens whether we want it to or not. There is a storming process that follows. This also happens whether we want it to or not. The social order is challenged. People decide they are not happy in their current roles and people get restless. People readjust. Through this process – sounding as analytical as I can – people’s feelings get hurt, people show who they truly are, the newness wears off, and people either grow closer together or farther apart. Depending on the individuals involved, people can form stronger bonds, or dissolve them and move on to start the whole process over again.

It helps me to sometimes step back from my Second Life and realize this process, as cut and dry as it can be in black and white, occurs whether you are a human being or an avitar. It is simply how we are wired. It is because we have hearts and brains and the will to make decisions. For some, they decide it is best to walk away from SL. Understandably. First lives are packed fuller than ever these days. When something doesn’t offer satistfaction and enjoyment any longer, why continue to punish yourself? Just like you would make a decision in your first life to no longer work at a certain place or attend a certain church or live in a specific city, people move on to reintroduce change into their lives and improve their status or release a hurtful force in their lives.

Everytime I have experienced a friend or colleague (many of whom I built close friendships with) move on, I have tried to be happy for them. It was because they were moving on and into something they perceived as better. How can you not be happy for someone making a decision like that? If they are truly your friend, you want the best for them. I would be lying though to say it doesn’t make my own heart hurt a little. I let people in. I let them close to me. I care about them. Overly sensitive, probably so. I become very attached. Change is hard. I am the kind to work through that norming and storming process and come out on the other side closer to those I am friends with. When I learn of people leaving, I am filled with saddness but I realize it is for a reason. Unlike my husband who jokes about friends being overrated and when we move those friends are now dead to him, I keep them in my heart. I know he does too but you have to laugh at the emotional preservation of his statements.

In the past week or so, I have known two SL’rs who have talked of moving on and out. Of course, I wish them only the best. I wish them a speedy return to SL if that is what their heart decides. I wish them all the good things they desire in their RL as well. They know who they are and they know how much I care about them.

So… Second Life… that funny little hand icon on our desktops… that thing we logged into and didn’t know quite what to expect. Cheers to what will be around the next corner for each of us. And, a toast to finding what we dream of and helping each other on the way… whether it be in our first, or our second lives.

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