Strawberry is back again, this time with an Advice for Newbie Challenge. I'm actually a semi-big newbie person. I carry gifts for newbies, and part of this blog - the Newbie Resources Page - is directly aimed at giving practical advice for how to get nice things and get around. They are some of my most visited pages, though usually I don't get much feedback on them and some of the sub-posts have been very difficult to keep up to date. They are more nuts and bolts, so for this list of five pieces of advice I'm going to focus on the more abstract issues of how to thrive in Second Life.
- Start with something you're interested in. Is it music, philosophy, dance, charity, creation, fashion, or art? Is it socializing, romance, self-expression, games, or exploration? The search on Second Life isn't the best, but if you search for any of those words you'll end up somewhere to begin, and you can search on the wider web as well. I'd honestly recommend looking in at least two directions - I started with fashion and philosophy - so that you don't become too isolated in a small sub-genre and loose sight of the larger picture of how diverse Second Life is. Don't try too many, though, because it can be easy to get overwhelmed; Second Life is largely about who you meet and who you are, so be mindful of both.
- Invest in a single persona at first. Second Life offers a lot of angles for re-imagining oneself, but to get the full effect, focus on one expression of yourself at first until you find your sea legs. This doesn't necessarily mean focus on one avatar form - I've known people who change avatars very often and with great glee, but that is part of the persona they are building, as someone transcendent of image. Spreading out all of one's aspects of persona across many accounts, however, can lead both to a shallow relationship with Second Life, but also make it much more likely that if something happens within that context, one has less to keep oneself in world.
- Make a second persona about the stuff you want to hide - your shadow. In addition to being a wonderful way of pursuing things one enjoys and doesn't mind people knowing about, it can also be a wonderful place to explore the personally taboo with less risk of danger or discovery. This may mean a gender change, an appearance change, or moving into communities one normally avoids, but Second Life offers unparalleled freedom to explore the external unknown and our inner darkness both.
- Remember that NPCs are few and far between. It's easy to begin to think of other avatars are players in our own stories, but the truth is that we are all the main characters in our own stories, and we weave in and out of each others' lives in ways both pleasurable and painful. One way to minimize the latter and emphasize the former is to not be so attached to ourselves as an isolated actor, and instead recognize that everyone has a lot going on and their own perspective which may or may not be equally valid to our own.
- Keep several things going at once, if you can. People have a tendency to mono-focus, even in a diverse world like Second Life, and that can lead to stagnation, isolation, and cynicism. Most of the time when people talk about how Second Life is no longer the wonderful thing it was, they mean that something hurt them in one of their experiences, and since that was their main or only experience and focus it soured the whole rest of Second Life for them. This souring is often relationship based, which is part of why I encourage people to make friends in different social groups instead of focusing on a single community, or even a single relationship. I've had hurtful things happen in relationships in Second Life, but the positive other experiences I had - some community based and some not - kept me going and enthusiastic.
Everyone was new once, and I hope this helps you to be as successful and happy in Second Life as I have been.
( More pictures here. )