July 9th, 2010: LillieJay Mills

Friday morning, breakfast in my office, gazing out the window, thinking about time.  Time – so arbitrary; a group decision, a construct. We turn our clocks ahead and back, synchronize our watches, label our time zones. Eastern Daylight Time here; hazy, humid, hopeful daylight awaiting heat-breaking rain.
Emails managed, facebook statused, plurks read, twitters tweeted, time to log in to SL. I logged off hurriedly yesterday amid a flurry of nasty IMs from mentors who do not like v2.0.  Strange that in a virtual world dependent upon software and newness people are so afraid of change- they must be using Word Perfect in Windows 3.1.  No job is all sunshine and flowers, but usually SL does not feel like work to me.

Three years ago I jumped at the chance to become our campus SL person, running SL labs, attending conferences, managing parcels, writing grants, helping faculty fly. As a virtual advisor, meeting with students in SL sounded ideal. Unfortunately out of 382 advisees only about a dozen log in with any regularity- a mixed blessing; I would like to see more of them inworld but, yikes, not 380. Education in SL differs from strictly social SL because we need to know each other’s RL names; I note them on their profiles.  Many people know me as LillieJay, similar to my RL last name Littlejohn; I answer to either.  My avatar and my human self merge more as time passes.  Boundaries between work and play fall away; I can build in my office and teach on Sunday morning- the time does not matter.  My builds in SL reflect the place I’d like to live in RL.  My friendships in SL are often more intense than in RL; there are SL people I speak with daily that are very important to me. SL can also be very emotional; the avatar is as sensitive as the human, typically choosing flight over fight, avoiding crowds. My friends and places in SL make me happy; time and again fun outweighs work.

Summer students in the hall rushing to class; a voice, “Good morning LillieJay! Which world are you in now?” Laughter, a pause. “My own,” I reply.

____________________

LillieJay Mills works in a SUNY community college & lives in Elba, New York, surrounded by corn fields and onions.

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