“What a bunch of losers,” a friend said when I told her about Second Life (SL) and how close we become to those around us in this virtual world. Losers we may be, in the eyes of those who are not residents but there is something that connects us all in SL.
Lately we have seen a number of old-time residents either leave us or become gravely ill, many of whom contributed greatly to this virtual world. I have heard their names, read their blogs, and heard friends mention them many times. But I have never met them, inworld or off-world.
It is in my nature to be concerned with those who are suffering and to grieve those who are gone. However, when we are talking about SL residents the feeling is somewhat different. There is a sense of deep loss for a partner in crime, an accomplice, someone who understood the magic of SL, who wandered through amazing sims and recognized that this is an extraordinary place. Yes, there is a common denominator among old-time SL residents. They are dreamers. Despite the hurdles, despite the technical limitations, the countless problems, they stay on. When one of them goes, SL is poorer, weaker.
I know there are many who believe that SL is a lost cause. I do too at times. But, if nothing else, SL brought new friends to my life, even if I didn’t know them, even if they didn’t know me. Yes, friends, because they were part of this chain of people who are strongly passionate about making SL a special place, a chain whose rings go from complete strangers to acquaintances, from virtual friends to very real friends we share our lives with. And that is when the virtual is distant or cartoonish no more; that is when we worry and are saddened.
I guess what connects us is the fact that we are stubborn enough not to forget our humanity.