One of the hardest things about withdrawal from Second Life has been the loss of touch with my SL friends (see previous blog post). There’s some on Skype who aren’t on Twitter, some who aren’t on Twitter or Skype but only on email, some I can just never seem to pin down in any way at all. But fortunately we haven’t all disappeared completely off the face of one another’s planets. Mostly we all keep in touch via email (but that does remind me to turn Skype on. BRB.).
Well, I got a very lengthy email from one such friend today, about having read this post over and over and feeling more and more like this person wants to leave Second Life as well. I don’t have this person’s permission to quote what’s in a private email, so I hope I’m forgiven for just the title of this blog post.
I do want to paraphrase what was said, however, because I feel it’s important. This person and I may not be the only ones who feel this way, and if anyone reading happens to feel the same as well, know that you’re not alone.
My friend tells me about going to work multiple times on Monday morning and feeling like the entire weekend was just kind of pissed away on Second Life, and feeling like that’s a real problem. My friend talks about what a seductive time sink it can truly be; how one can rationalize it by calling it “me” time, but then all these hours go by and you haven’t created the thing you wanted to create or done the thing you wanted to do, but instead find yourself caught up in other people’s issues and the hours and days go by and RL responsibilities go completely unaddressed. My friend also mentions how exhilarating, how freeing, it feels to NOT be on Second Life. I’ve experienced all of this. I know exactly how this person feels.
The thing is, I tend to disagree with what seems to be the consensus among posters at forums like On Line Gamers Anonymous. The stance there tends to be very extreme: there’s nothing good about Second Life, it’s a poison, the people in it aren’t real friends and you don’t need them and they don’t need you, they just take and take and hurt you. There are extraordinarily good things about Second Life, and for many people it’s a balm, not a poison. And the friendships made in Second Life can be very real, and very enduring, such as in the case of my friend who wrote me. But for certain individuals, me (and from what it sounds like, my friend) among them, it can become toxic. My friend closed the email, wishing for all the free time back, to watch movies and read and really create things.
I SO KNOW HOW YOU FEEL.
I’m learning as I go, how to get by without SL. I’m experiencing withdrawals and loneliness and boredom. And I’m also working on what to do with the hours now (in case you’re curious: I’m learning how to make video games, and applied for an entry-level job for a local game development company. And I’m doing housework and paying the bills and stuff). I’m learning how to actually budget creative/”me” time with day-to-day important time. I do little milestones, like the other day how I changed my Twitter avatar from an SL portrait to an anime-style one. I’m invested more in RL relationships. I even went to a real live Christmas party last weekend, with real people and not a dance ball or tip jar to be had.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m certainly no expert on recovering, I don’t wholly agree with the sources that claim to be experts on recovering, but I surely do know what my friend means in their email about wanting to break away, because I feel/felt that way too. And it makes me wonder about other people who are also wanting/trying to break away from addiction. Once again I’ll reiterate: Second Life is not bad. The people in Second Life aren’t, by default, bad. Addiction to it, when it sabotages your RL, is.
So I am going to continue to blog. I am going to continue to talk about the withdrawal and the steps and the contacts and the everything. If someone is having a hard time with addiction to SL, they can talk to me. I don’t know how to fix it, but I do know how you feel.