Friday, May 27, 2011

Passing Time

I spend a lot of time on Second Life doing a lot of different things.

The photography and fashion aspects of it are probably the most obvious on this blog. I spend a certain amount of offline money buying virtual goods, something which no doubt makes me strange in the eyes of a lot of people - though less so now with the spread of facebook games with their monetary components. I think it's only a matter of time before the idea of spending money for virtual rewards is no stranger than buying tickets to a game or gambling, but right now it's a strange thing.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

One funny thing about marginalized populations, like online people in a place like Second Life, is that while one would expect them to be more open and less judgmental of others within their group - often they seem to replicate the same judgmentalism and even prejudices against each other. On of the more visible examples are griefers (who spend time on Second Life) targeting furries (ibid) because furries are somehow more strange and deserving of abuse and derision. Another, less online-violent example is What the Fug flicker groups and blogs, which photograph then share the pictures for others to insult and be amused by.

I'm a member of that Flickr Group, and am often amazed by what I feel are "ugly" avatars, with a less noble and important contribution to Second Life than mine, but more and more I'm questioning my own assumptions about whether what I chose to do is inherently superior to, say, making a scantily clad character to roleplay out being a prostitute, for example. Should the aesthetically challenged among us be viewed as inherently lesser, and worthy of being mocked? And, indeed, how is what we views as aesthetic often situationally determined, as commentary and my own thoughts on a recent Barbie Doll Avatar shows. At the same time, it is and should be all right for us to put our negative opinions out there, about someone else's aesthetic judgments, their creations, as well as their behavior - without also being characterized as somehow lesser and worthy of being mocked, or some sort of negative killjoy. 


The more I think about it, the more I think it's the poor characterization that bothers me - that and the implied lesser worth. It's the sort of traps that intellectuals often fall into, characterizing the hoi poloi as being less intelligent and thus less important, and often with a countering prejudice against the intellectuals of being clueless and stupid about anything but theory. Now, granted, these sometimes are accurate, but not always, and it is the over-generalization which causes problems - in my opinion - as well as the ascribing of certain motivations based on holding a group of people in contempt.

As I said above, I do a lot of things on Second Life. Fashion is a big focus, and a very visible one. So is exploring sims - something probably less obvious because I don't always crop widely, but usually a photoshoot is half the outfit, and half the hunt for a sim to take pictures in. The few times I have done shots on photostudios, it's been for very specific purposes of highlighting what I'm wearing in exclusion, but usually what I enjoy is the interplay between avatar and location - how the artistry of skin, clothing, hair, jewelry, cosmetics, plants, animals, buildings, sim creation, and lighting all combine into something unique and beautiful.

Sunset Scattered
I also seek out art installations. I particularly like ones which combine interactivity and beauty, like the circular exploration of art currently going on at Split Screen. There's a pink sign telling you what to do, but after a time or two through the cycle it's easy enough to guess  and let your focus be on photography. You can also sit on one of the pieces and become part of the entire experience, which I found intriguing and which may be more  highlighted in a future visit to the sim! I had been looking for a sim to photograph in, though, and the Split Screen display, while lovely, did not fit that criterion.

I blog less about the art, so those who don't follow my flickr stream are more likely to have missed it. They're also likely to have missed my time spent roleplaying, for a long while at a Modern Dark sim with vampires, before that in a Medieval sim, and now again in a gorgeous new Medieval sim where I'm revisiting Deoridhe the Fae with a great deal of enjoyment. They are also likely to have missed my stepping into something which I was surprised to find, on the blogs I follow, is worthy of contempt - virtual, breedable pets. This reflects another change - access to land (though in many ways I'm a charity case, I like to think my generosity of spirit and winning personality make my primmy pets more enjoyable) as when the breedable pets initially came out I was without land of my own or any sense I could own pets on the land I was allowed onto.


I knew thoughts were negative about breedable pets in general, but I was surprised how they coalesced around the release of Meeroos - the first breedable pet I've ever invested in (I'm also breeding horses, now, but those are almost all as a result of gifts from friends, not my own investment). Some comments focused on how spending on these breedable pets - as opposed to virtual land, virtual clothing, DJ tips, etc... - was somehow a scam or a waste of resources. Other comments were on how people must be breeding Meeroos and taking part in the other activities around them (I'm assuming they're including treasure hunting, though they only mentioned the Oracle trivia) is due to boredom and needing something to do.

I got involved in the meeroos because it seemed fun. I'm remaining involved not due to any impression I'll make scads of money with them, but rather because I love their sounds, I like picking them up, I find them cute and lovely, I love the mystery aspect of breeding where they chose who they'll breed with, now and then I wander around the grid with one in my arms, and the cost seems low enough to justify the fun. I'm also now breeding plants, which glow and release particles and make noises, because they seem fun and enjoyable and I'm looking forward to growing weirder and weirder things.

It disturbs me that simply by adding another thing to my wide repertoire of fun in Second Life, I've entered a new group of breedable owners to be characterized as too stupid to see a scam and needing something to do.

Credits (pink outfit):

Eyes: De La Soul, RooMee Eyes - Rainbow
Ears: Illusion, Mystic Fairy Ear
Skin: De La Soul, Charlie - Cream Nude with Rainbow Makeup
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Azarelle
Hair: Truth, Orchid - driftwood
Dress and Legwarmers: SG Fashion, Viola Tunic and Legwarmers - Pink
Shoes: G Field, Bow Strap Shoes "Kate" - rose

Location: La Isla Obscura
Light Settings: [TOR] FOGGY - Catastrophe

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only

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