I came to Second Life three years ago at the invitation of one of my mommyblogger friends who had bought an island. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but I was bored and about a dozen of us created AVs and logged in.
I’ve told many people that I’m Gidge in both lives, because it didn’t occur to me that people embraced anonymity here. I wasn’t being clever, I just used my nickname.
I was surprised and confused at first, by the secrecy other people cloaked themselves in – one “friend” even telling me that they were terrified that anyone ever learn who they were on The Grid. It felt very unnatural, as other RL friends joined, having to coach them NOT TO ASK people about themselves. I always felt a bit surreal having friends whom I spoke with every day, that I actually knew nothing real about. It didn’t feel like fantasy, it felt like lies.
Three years later, my Second Life couldn’t be more different:
I’ve proofed and reviewed resumes for people. RL resumes. My day starts with text messages from my friends on the grid. I know all of my friends full names and have some people in my phone as their RL name, some people as their AV name. Cajsa calls me on lunch. I drunk-called Kess awhile back. I know where my friends live. I think part of it comes from the community of SLers that formed on Plurk – a weird drama-filled family where we love each other and hate each other in odd turns. We get to know each other. Our walls come down. The human driving the avatar is as important to me as the avatar. I can respect your need to be a fashionista zombie AND the fact that you are a single mom who can’t pay her electric bill this week. Knowing your RL information doesn’t make your Second Life any less tangible to me. In a lot of instances, it actually makes it more viable.
At the end of the day, after my kids go to bed, I log in and a small pixel world comes to life and it becomes real, because we are.
Gidge Uriza is a fashion blogger on It’s Only Fashion and Second Style. She’s a real person in both lives.